December 11, 2011
Case collection period: October 21, 2011 through December 10, 2011
Total number of reported cases: 285
Number of reported cases involving children: 73
Total number of reported symptoms: 163
Number of reported symptoms involving children: 79
1. Distribution map of individuals who reported cases
As seen in the supplemental data added last month, there is a correlation between the occurrences of radiation contamination cases and the cesium 137 soil contamination map published by the National Academy of Sciences. Since last month, there were reports from several additional prefectures such as Nara, Kyoto and Yamanashi, yet the correlation between the symptoms and the soil contamination remains closely related without a major change. What is observed is an increased reporting from almost the same areas as last month as well as the worsening of the symptoms in added by the previous reporting individuals.
Under such circumstances, within the 300-kilometer range, symptomatic individuals recognize that they are in the “contaminated zone” and try to figure out why they had an onset of the symptoms even though those around them have no understanding of radiation contamination. There is a so-called “vague zone” (300-kilometer to 600-kilometer range,) where the contamination had gradually faded out from the 300-kilometer range which is generally considered the contaminated zone and led to the coexistence of contaminated area and uncontaminated area. In this “vague zone,” the awareness that “contamination is within the 300-kilometer range” is strong. People living in the “vague zone” have a strong awareness that “contamination is contained within the 300-kilometer range,” and thus they have lower awareness regarding self-protection. They are getting radiation exposure defenselessly, and they cannot and will not consider multiple symptoms they might have as related to radiation exposure. Needless to say, such “vague zone” has areas which are practically hot spots, thus the symptoms are not any different from those in the contaminated zone. It is necessary for people living in the “vague zone” to have even more self-awareness of and attention to the radioactive contamination than those living in the 300-kilometer range.
It should be reiterated that the awareness that it is safe if it is far is extremely dangerous. As long as there is food and soil contamination and air movements, you cannot overestimate distance. Radiation contamination is not an issue of how much quantity of it exists but an issue of “it exists or it does not exist.” Regardless of the distance, if there is an onset of symptoms, it is still an onset no matter where it is, and thus it is wrong to think that symptoms would be lighter because of distance.
Based on the above issue of “it exists or it does not exist,” it should be understood that even though the areas where cases were reported had only a few individuals reporting symptoms at the present time, even a single report should not be taken lightly.
For instance, there are only four reports from Hokkaido, one of which is the following:
“Case Number 230 Skin rash in a male with a history of an autoimmune digestive illness from Hokkaido.
November 16, 2011, Wednesday, 21:51:22
I went to a golf course near Chitose Airport on August 26 to watch a women’s professional golf tournament. During a thunderstorm, the tournament was temporarily halted and we took shelter under tents so as not to get wet. I dropped a towel, which I had wrapped around my neck to wipe my sweat, on the wet ground, and I put it back around my neck without rinsing it under running water. That evening a rash resembling a heat rash developed in the back of my neck where the towel had been. It was both painful and itchy for about a week, and it went away on its own. At a later date, I had a similar symptom when accumulated rainwater from a vinyl greenhouse dumped on my head and neck at my home which was on the Sea of Okhotsk side of Hokkaido and over 300 kilometers away from the golf course. It also went away on its own in about a week.”
In Hokkaido, which is far away from the point of origin of radiation, it was almost six months after the start of contamination when this man developed a rash after putting a rainwater-dampened towel around his neck. He had the same symptom again from rainwater from the plastic greenhouse located on the Sea of Okhotsk side which is over 300 kilometers away.
If this example is not taken lightly, it should be obvious that any of the pastures in Hokkaido was contaminated by air and rain from the spring to the summer, and grazing cows were eating the contaminated grass. When it comes to infant formula, it should not be guesswork that prior testing of milk should have been necessary.
In order for us to save human lives and understand the environmental conditions, health surveys should be done without delay on a regional level with honest disclosure, without relying on the national government.
2. Human diagrams and bar graphs showing symptom category by organ system
|2. Bar graph showing symptoms categorized by systems (whole)|
This month a big characteristic is a change in the number of symptoms per person. The whole group saw an increase from 3.96 symptoms to 4.5 symptoms per person. The children’s group went from 3 symptoms to 3.6 symptoms per person. Also, the addendum to prior reports revealed progression of symptoms in the form of worsening symptoms or a new onset of symptoms. Both in the whole group and the children’s group, the top three symptoms were in bronchi, skin, and general, and the numbers have markedly increased. Also infections are increasing, suggesting decline in the immune competence. This decline in the immune competence is thought to be triggering the worsening of symptoms and the new symptoms.
Based on repeated verification, there is no pattern in the symptoms as in a specific symptom follows another specific symptom. There is such an individual variation that there is no way to predict where the next new symptom will appear. This needs to be examined carefully, but it is thought that similarities of symptoms might be possible in blood relatives as in both mothers and children having skin rashes.
Also, there is something this writer personally wishes to strongly emphasize here for the record at this time. It is not about the reports of concrete details such as general malaise and specific symptoms. It is about the reports of the excessive stress people are under. In particular, quite a few mothers with newborns are subject to a disproportionate amount of stress due to anxiety regarding their future and stress about protection of their babies. After husbands leave for work and older children go to kindergarten, some women stay alone in the kitchen and sob. The existence of such mothers should be recognized by more people, even a few.
Many mothers desperately gather information in order to protect their children. When they cannot share such information with their husbands, or when their husbands are indifferent to radioactive contamination to begin with, they are emotionally alienated from their husbands to an extreme degree. They get hopeless feelings about the inability to evacuate their children as well as their husbands’ disinterest in evacuation, and they tend to blame themselves. Their differences about evacuation from radioactive contamination disclose the discord in their ethical view regarding a human life, often chasing them towards the verge of despair. Because of the difference in the way of thinking about and reacting to the radioactive contamination, there have been many cases of terminated relationships with friends and families or divorces upon evacuation. Even after evacuating as families, quite a lot of families are experiencing discord within the family.
There are many cases of mental pressure regarding financial difficulties accompanying the worsening of chronic illnesses and physical disabilities. It is not uncommon for many e-mails sent to this writer to have such statements as “Desperation is driving me insane,” “I often think of killing myself,” “I almost wish there would be another explosion.” These may not be specifically recorded as “cases.” However, this writer insists on recording them here, as they are just as bad as or actually even more serious than the various cases. It is extremely feared that in the future there would be not only an increase in those with symptoms but also a potential increase in those who commit suicide.
It is sincerely hoped that these individuals stop blaming themselves and find connections with those who share their feelings. It is thought that there might be more people who need mental care than those who have symptoms. It is acutely hoped that many psychological counselors pay attention to the issue of radioactive contamination.
The percentage of evacuation/relocation was 6.7% (13 out of 192 cases) last month. This month it was 17 out of 285 cases, decreasing to 5.9%. This writer’s sense is that perhaps the individuals who evacuated prior to November were presumably those who already understood the danger of radioactive contamination as knowledge even before the TEPCO’s radiation contamination as well as those who were able to make a decision about evacuation at that point from some awareness including the aforementioned danger. There are many who are considering as the timing for relocation such juncture as the end of the year or the end of school year (March) when children go onto higher grades.
Results of the survey, collected from November 21 to December 5, for the reasons to hesitate evacuation despite considering it were as follows: 57% answered that they hesitated due to the issue of work and school; 16% gave financial reasons, 15% stated a lack of understanding from families and others, 10% said they were uncertain if evacuation was absolutely necessary and 2% gave other reasons. More than half answered that they hesitated to relocate due to the issue of work and school. Work is the judgment of adults, but when it comes to school, this writer cannot help but interpret that they want their children to attend school despite radiation exposure.
Also, there are actually many people who are unable to evacuate due to financial reasons. It is a fact that a lot of assistance is necessary in several aspects not only in forced evacuation but also in voluntary evacuation. Voluntary evacuation of the so-called vulnerable such as single-mother households, those with chronic illnesses, and the disabled, requires a positive understanding by the areas which are able to accept them. Many are struggling to prepare for evacuation not just from a financial perspective but for such issues as the lack of co-signers for apartment rental. Moreover, in other instances, many have a lot of balance left on the home loan for their current homes. Again, if the areas which are able to accept them could cooperate with local banks’ assistance service in order to establish a pathway for such assistance, that would help those who want to evacuate to take the first step.
In December, albeit slowly, the mainstream media began to occasionally use words such as “symptom” and “cases.” In any event, it is thought that there would be a further increase in the number of people who have symptoms. It is anticipated that it would become more obvious that many people have symptoms, and there would be a second wave of evacuation before and after the spring break which is a juncture when grades are switched.
4.Seeking Medical Care
More people are seeking medical care, with 35% of the reports (100 out of 285 cases) have visited medical facilities. In the sense of medical care, as of November 28, preservation of “teeth” and “hair” began within Fukushima prefecture in preparation for health damage. The purpose is to use dental pulp cells in the future medical treatments and also to preserve hair as an evidence of radiation exposure. In particular, when it comes to “hair,” the haircutting and beauty industry is taking a leading part. In addition, Fukushima Heart Network was started by an individual so that the information is shared in order to face difficulties by those who feel things that do not normally occur are happening to children and pregnant women including abnormal birth (such as premature birth). At any rate, these activities are happening at the hands of townspeople, and it is extremely disappointing that medical establishments are not taking the initiative of such activities.
Research and report Shino Yasutomo
Translated by Dr. Yuri Hiranuma