World Bulletin / News Desk
People in the areaworst affected by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident two years ago have a higher risk of developing certain cancers, the World Health Organisation said on Thursday.
A magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, killed nearly 19,000 people and devastated the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, triggering meltdowns, spewing radiation and forcing about 160,000 people to flee their homes.
It was the worst nuclear accident since a reactor exploded at the Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine in 1986.
"A breakdown of data, based on age, gender and proximity to the plant, does show a higher cancer risk for those located in the most contaminated parts," Dr. Maria Neira, WHO director for public health and environment, said in a statement.
In the most contaminated area, the WHO estimated that there was a 70 percent higher risk of females exposed as infants developing thyroid cancer over their lifetime. The thyroid is the most exposed organ as radioactive iodine concentrates there and children are deemed especially vulnerable.
The report estimated that in the most contaminated area there was a 7 percent higher risk of leukaemia in males exposed as infants, and a 6 percent higher risk of breast cancer in females exposed as infants.
The report concluded that for the general population inside Japan, the predicted health risks were low, but that one-third of emergency workers were estimated to have increased risk.
But there was no discernible increase in health risks expected outside Japan, the WHO said in a 200-page report which was based on a comprehensive assessment by international experts.
Jim Smith, Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Portsmouth in England, said: "Apart from emergency workers, the most affected people were those who remained in some highly contaminated towns and villages to the northwest of the power station for up to four months before evacuation.
"The report found that these people received a lifetime radiation dose of up to 50 milli-Sieverts (MSV) and therefore have a significant, but relatively small, additional risk of contracting cancer in later life."
He said the average British person receives more than 150 MSV during their lifetime from background radiation.
He said the report did not yet give data on the numbers of people who received particular radiation doses, so it was not yet possible to estimate the overall health consequences.
Neira said: "The WHO report underlines the need for long-term health monitoring of those who are at high risk, along with the provision of necessary medical follow-up and support services."
Fukushima operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) earlier this month received approval to tap the Japanese government for 697 billion yen ($7.5 billion) to compensate those harmed by the disaster, taking the total fund to 3.24 trillion yen.
Christiana Figueres says there is 1.2 million euros deficit to cover upcoming sessions
Some of the world's major cities, most Pacific island nations are at risk of disappearing due to rising seas
Yemen forces allied to the Houthi have launched a scud missile toward southern Saudi Arabia
Three dozens of fires may cause an ecological catastrophe to Lake Baikal in Russia
National and international slow responses to epidemies show how far the world is from achieving global health security
Call for action in madrassas and mosques around the world is intended to emphasize the role Islam can play in combating climate change
New reports claim parent company Alphabet is attempting to fight malaria and other diseases transmitted via insects
Scientists are predicting that Earth could be heading towards an extraordinary event which would see compasses point south and the sun rise in the West.
Ambitious document to be ratified next month during General Assembly meeting
Using alternative sources to firewood as opened the path for one Kenyan factory to reduce energy costs and save the environment
A vaccine developed by researchers has shown promising results with a trial tests showing 100% protection against Ebola
Low lying areas in the Sundarbans region has forced many mothers to join fathers away from home to work, leaving little choice for their children but to take refuge in hostels away from family.
World Wildlife Fund communications manager says plan could come to fruition by 2020, but depends on final gov’t approval
Meteorologists expect El Nino effects to delay the rainy season as dry conditions force locals to pray for rain
Hawaii has become the first American state to ban the use of plastic bags.