Sunday, January 5, 2014

Rethinking My Thoughts on Fukushima and Radiation

In the wake of the disaster at the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant, with an abundance of good intentions, but not quite enough discernment, I put out into the world some initial thoughts on how North Americans could protect ourselves from any radiation exposure from the accident.

As a teacher, a practitioner, and a person, I feel like its important to admit my mistakes.   After a great deal of reading and research, and conversations with my friends and colleagues (especially Ryan Drum and Yarrow Willard,)  I no longer believe that seaborne radioactive contamination poses a significant threat to people on the west coast of North America.   For a good explanation of the issue see

Absolutely, the accident at Fukushima has had devastating effects in Japan.

And, yes, we could do with better monitoring of radiation levels in fish caught of the US and Canadian coasts that migrate to Japanese waters.   Frankly, we could need better monitoring of contamination in fish and shellfish generally.

And it is likely that everyone in the world was exposed to some airborne radioactive contamination in the days following the accident that may contribute to cancers down the road in those made more vulnerable by elevated systemic inflammation, poor detoxification, or immune dysregulation -- the same people who are already most vulnerable to cancer from the myriad physical and emotional toxins in our world today.    The best way to deal with these risks is to do all the things we do to mitigate other cancer risks:
  • Eat a diet high in Omega-3 fatty acids (from foods from animals that eat their natural diets) and low in Omega-6 fatty acids (from grains, nuts, seeds, and the creatures that eat them.)
  • Eat an abundance and a wide variety of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Support the liver with herbs like Milk Thistle, Reishi, and Schizandra (unless contraindicated due to effects on liver clearance of medications).
  • Support lymphatic movement through exercise, bodywork, and herbs like Cleavers and Red Clover.
  • Take a variety of immune modulating mushrooms.
  • Work to reduce stress and get support in healing trauma.

But the idea that people in North America are at risk from Fukushima radiation seems ill founded to me.  And I am disturbed by the proliferation of alarmist articles by unscrupulous websites like Natural News (which also peddle articles denying the reality of global warming, claiming that the Boston Marathon bombing was a government conspiracy, and asserting a variety of bizarre and insulting theories about autism.)    These articles are always claiming to present the truth that the ubiquitous "they" don't want you to read.   But let's turn the tables on Natural News and their ilk:  what are the stories the conspiracy theorists aren't telling you?

  • We are living in a world awash in ionizing radiation right now -- from routine tritium releases from nuclear power plants to the legacy of nuclear testing to the radioactive pollution from nuclear medicine.  The greatest radioactive threats we face come from close to home, and are in our power to address through political organizing.
  • The people suffering most from radiation related health risks in North America are never talked about in places like Natural News:  (mostly Indigenous) people who have lived near or worked at uranium mines, (mostly poor) people who live near nuclear waste repositories, workers in the nuclear industry and in nuclear medicine, people living downwind and downstream from places where nuclear weapons have been manufactured or tested.
  • We are seeing massive die-offs of sea life not because of radiation, but because of global warming.
Unlike the stories about Fukushima poisoning the Pacific, these are all well documented realities.   And the panic generated by sensationalist stories about Fukushima is making people too focused on their own safety to pay attention to these slow but devastating effects of the nuclear age.