In light of the nuclear disaster in Japan, we turn our attention to truths about the health effects of exposure to high and low levels of radioactive isotopes. As expected, medical and scientific reports from the media and authorities are incomplete, conflicting and confusing.
Dr. Jannette Sherman with Joseph Mangano of the Radiation and Public Health Project, authored the “Tooth Fairy Project” which studied radioactive contamination in thousands of baby teeth collected during the period of time when the United States and the Soviet Union conducted nuclear bomb tests in the atmosphere and which led to the Partial Test Ban Treaty.
Dr. Rosalie Bertell, founder of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health (IICPH) , participated in this important study of baby teeth to help scientists to link differences in tooth contamination directly with health outcomes. Dr. Sherman recently appeared on CBC Radio’s “The Current” and pointed out that contamination of the food supply, for the Japanese people and beyond, will persist “for decades to centuries.”
As Coordinator of the International Medical Commission on Chernobyl (IMC Chernobyl), Dr. Bertell presented accusations, provided testimony and requested that the Permanent People’s Tribunal convene. This collaboration has grounded IICPH in strategies to address public health problems by uprooting and exposing political repression masquerading as scientific arguments that function to deny, minimize, and ignore medical and scientific evidence of effects of hazardous exposures on communities.
In in its judgement, the Tribunal condemned the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and governments which serve corporations for trying to “promote nuclear energy through falsehood, intimidation and unethical use of money power.” Likewise, the International Commission for Radiological Protection (ICRP) was condemned for “the promotion of the nuclear industry, instead of being aimed at the protection of the potential victims.” Other respondents requested to attend the Tribunal included the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU). With the nuclear industry dominating government and international policy, economically and politically unpopular matters have been neglected by many institutions, thinkers and professionals. To maintain the integrity of its work, IICPH operates independently with its community associates and professionals as a registered charity, separate from industry and government.
Responses to Windscale, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Toka Mura and the Fukushima accidents can now be compared with exposures from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is unacceptable for international regulators to continue pushing allowable levels of radiation upwards, forcing the public toward chronic exposures of low levels of radiation. No level of ionizing radiation is safe.
We have learned that the World Health Organization intends to double the maximum allowable uranium in drinking water worldwide. Why?
The International Commission for Radiological Protection continues to ignore non-cancer deaths and illnesses from Chernobyl and other mass exposures to ionizing radiation. Why?
The United Nations has been unable to control humanity’s destruction of the biosphere or the buildup of nuclear weapons materials. Nuclear power is a poor investment compared to energy management, conservation and efficiency, yet its member nations still demand increasing generation of dirty nuclear power and their corporations provide it without due consideration of the human costs. Why?
The IMC Chernobyl Tribunal publicly represented the extremes of damage, lack of availability of data and lack of accountability regarding nuclear power and human rights. In the decades since the Chernobyl disaster, useful, independent information about radioactive exposure has become available, providing us with an experienced, compelling and long term perspective to guide our efforts to protect public health and safety.
The International Medical Commission on Chernobyl indicated that there were 32 million radiation victims, including the Russian people, “workers, the Japanese population, victims of above ground nuclear weapons testing and various accidents and incidents that have occurred.” The entire Northern Hemisphere was contaminated, and yet political dictates still permit radioactive waste to accumulate and create greater and greater risks.
On behalf of the innocent victims of nuclear disaster, surely we can do better this time. We can stop it this time. Nuclear Free Next Generation!
Willi Nolan has worked with Dr. Rosalie Bertell and the International Institute of Concern for Public Health for 15 years. A community activist and human rights advocate, her passions are the best interests of the Institute and Mother Earth.
Chernobyl: Environmental, Health and Human Rights Implications. Permanent people’s Tribunal, International Medical Commission on Chernobyl. Vienna, Austria 12-15 April 1996.
No Immediate Danger: Prognosis for a Radioactive Earth. Dr. Rosalie Bertell, 1985. ISBN0-913990-25-2
Study of Baby Teeth Sees Radiation Effects, Matthew L. Wald, New York Times. Published: December 13, 2010. Retrieved 17 March 2011.