Thyroid gland irregularities have been detected in a number of young children and teenagers evacuated from Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture following its nuclear plant crisis.
According to a study, 10 out of 130 children evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture showed hormonal and other irregularities in their thyroid glands, the Kyodo news agency reported. The investigation was done by a charity dedicated to help victims of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident.
The Japan Chernobyl Foundation, which is based in Japan’s Nagano Prefecture, carried out the study in cooperation with the Shinshu University Hospital, taking blood and urine samples from individuals up to 16 years old and infants as young as one month old.
The tests took place through the end of August in Chino, Nagano, where the children were housed temporarily following their evacuation from Fukushima, where the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was crippled and caused the country’s ongoing nuclear crisis.
The study revealed that one child had a thyroid hormone level lower than normal while seven had above average thyroid stimulation hormone levels. In addition, two of the tested youths were diagnosed with slightly high blood concentrations of a protein called thyroglobulin, possibly caused by damage to their thyroid glands.
However, Japan Chernobyl Foundation chief Minoru Kamata underlined that no clear link was found between the radiation released from the nuclear plant and the children’s health condition. Nonetheless, Minoru stressed that long-term observation is necessary and key to finding any possible impact on human health due to the nuclear crisis.
Last Friday, the government of Japan lifted its evacuation advisory in certain areas within a 20 to 30 kilometer (12.4 to 18.6 mile) radius from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The lifted advisory had covered the entire towns of Hirono and Naraha, the village of Kawauchi, and parts of Minamisomo and Tamura, all located in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture which was hit hard by the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis.
Also last Friday, plutonium was detected at six locations in Fukushima Prefecture, including in the village of Iitate which is located about 45 kilometers (28 miles) northwest of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Japanese science ministry official said the plutonium was detected as a result of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima plant. This was the first time the government confirmed the spread of plutonium to the village. However, officials said the amount of detected plutonium was low and poses no danger to health.
Japan has been facing an ongoing nuclear crisis since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was severely damaged on March 11 when a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and a subsequent tsunami devastated the country. The disaster disabled the cooling systems of the plant and radioactive elements leaked into the sea and were later found in water, air and food products in some parts of Japan.
At least 15,813 people were killed as a result of the earthquake and tsunami while 3,971 others remain missing. There are still more than 88,000 people who are staying in shelters in 21 prefectures around Japan.
By PAUL VAUGHAN – Thu Oct 06, 3:28 pm