Study Calculates Health Impacts Of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

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Roughly 130 people are likely to die from radiation exposure and another 180 die from cancer as a result of the March 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima-Daichi nuclear power station in Japan, according to a new study by Stanford University researchers.

The researchers presented a wide range of possible fatalities from the disaster, estimating that 15 to 1,300 people could die from direct radiation exposure. The scientists also said that an estimated 24 to 2,500 people could contract cancer from exposure to radiation following the meltdown.

Reporting in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, the researchers settled on the figures of 130 direct exposure fatalities and 180 cancer fatalities as their best estimates of the health impacts. Nearly all of the people affected live in Japan.

The Stanford scientists said that only 19 percent of the released radioactive material fell on land and that mortality rates would have been far higher if most of the radiation had not been blown out to sea. The researchers came up with their estimates by using a 3-D global atmospheric model to predict the transport and concentrations of material released from the stricken reactors.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.