Research and report Shino Yasutomo
Translated by Dr. Yuri Hiranuma
Report #3 Content
Case collection period: October 21, 2011 to January 10, 2012
Total number of reported cases: 358
Total number of reported symptoms and categories: 26 categories and 203 symptoms
(As of this report, cases involving children are no longer separated.)
1. Distribution map of individuals who reported cases
The most obvious characteristic in this month’s report, which marks the ninth month since the occurrence of the Fukushima nuclear accident, is the expansion of the range of reported cases to include more areas to the east and the west. Newly added areas include eastern Honshu, Iwate, Fukui which is on the Sea of Japan side in the middle of Honshu, Tottori, Yamaguchi which is on the west of Honshu, and Nagasaki and Fukuoka in Kyushu.
Based on the content of the case reports, Iwate seems to be seriously contaminated. Two of the cases reported show that they came to stay in Iwate from other prefectures for nine days and two days, respectively. A woman who walked around the debris for nine days doing volunteer work later developed bronchitis, back pain, and menstrual irregularity. Another woman who similarly did outside activities for 2 days, sitting in a folding chair on the grass in the park or on the concrete, developed diarrhea, paresthesia in hands, bruises, and hair loss. Also those living in Iwate have reported such symptoms as lymphadenitis, tongue paresthesia, metallic taste, fatigue, urticaria, chest pain, worsening of allergies, and swelling.
Included in the reports received from newly added areas such as Fukui on the Sea of Japan side in the middle of Honshu, Tottori, and Yamaguchi on the west end of Honshu, were decreased visual acuity, epistaxis(nose bleeds), bleeding gums, nose pain from strange odors, and chest pain. Also the areas considered as completely “clean zones” on the west end of Japan, such as Nagasaki and Fukuoka, had cases reported. An individual reporting the case from Nagasaki had eaten convenience store bento for almost all meals and keep having recurrences of cough, inflammation in throat, headaches, rhinorrhea and chills. A case report from Fukuoka concerns the occurrence of a neck lump after eating “tarako” or salted cod roe. “Tarako” is familiar to us as a product of Fukuoka, but the original ingredient, “cod roe” mainly comes from Ishinomaki, Miyagi, which is within the 100-km zone of the accident.
The two case reports from Nagasaki and Fukuoka, which are on the west end of Japan, suggest that there is a possibility that symptoms will occur no matter where you are in Japan, as long as no protective measures against contaminated food are implemented. The government’s legal standard for permissible levels of radioactive contamination in food is faulty, and it should be assumed that contaminated food is in circulation. The manufacuturers’ fraudulent claiming of origin and the disguised labeling in supermarkets are pervasive. Also, there have been reports of the use of rice bran from rice grown in the contaminated area being found in the livestock feed and the mushroom beds. Bones from contaminated cows, pigs and chicken are reportedly used in meat extracts, beef tallow, and gelatin. In the case of shellfish farming in the ocean, seed oysters from Higashimatsushima-City, Miyagi, are reportedly transported to and grown in Karatomari fishing harbor in Fukuoka-City.
As the very foundations of food safety are shaken in all areas, those who are sensitive to radioactive contamination are inclined to seek out food from western Japan despite high prices. They have to confirm not only the production areas but also the source of raw ingredients such as wheat and eggs. Many say that “It costs more to buy food for more frugal meals.” School lunches for children are of the greatest concern: some parents send homemade lunches with their children, whereas some municipalities are beginning to do radiation measurements of school lunches. Examples are Fukushima-City (Fukushima), Kawaguchi-City (Saitama), Tsukuba-City (Ibaraki), Kurihara-City (Miyagi), Kiryu-City (Gunma), Midori-City (Gunma), Narita-City (Chiba), Joso-City (Ibaraki), Yokohama-City (Kanagawa), and Yokosuka-City (Kanagawa). Testing for radiation of school lunches is beginning to be performed beyond the original area designated as contaminated to areas more distant from most hazardous areas. When it comes to restaurants, regardless of whether they are expensive and high class or not, it appears that they barely recognize the radioactive contamination of food as an issue. As expected, there are many cases where the symptoms improved after refusing school lunches and abstaining from eating out. It is extremely important to take protective measures against contaminated food no matter where you live in Japan.
In addition to food contamination, there is the problem of airborne radioactivity due to the government’s policy of incinerating contaminated debris. Debris from Fukushima prefecture is slated to be transported to every other prefecture, or this is already taking place. However, from the time of the nuclear accident up to the point when the acceptance of the contaminated debris was announced, all the contaminated areas had been incinerating household garbage which inevitably contained radioactive particles. Thus even before the transport of the contaminated debris, many incidences of such symptoms as pain in the mucous membranes of throat, eyes and nose, accompanied by nosebleeds, dizziness and fatigue, were reported by individuals residing around the waste incinerating facilities, such as the waste incinerating plant in Meguro Ward in Tokyo. If the acceptance of the contaminated debris is openly carried out, it will be inevitable that worsening of these symptoms would be accelerated. In addition, the incinerated ashes from the Metropolitan area had been transported mostly to the Tohoku region even before the nuclear accident. The incinerated ashes from the contaminated debris incinerated in the Metropolitan area would also be expected to be transported along the existing routes. In other words, even if the contaminated debris wasn’t accepted for incineration, there is a possibility that secondary contamination is occuring in the clean zone.
Judging from these issues of contaminated food and spread of contaminated debris, it is anticipated in the future more areas will report cases and the cases will be both more serious and occur at an accelerated pace.
From this point forward, Japan is faced with an immense challenge about how to manage and maintain a clean zone. Those living in clean zones need to gather as much information regarding the radioactive contamination as those living in contaminated areas. They need to do a planned survey of the soil and rivers on a regular basis.
2. SymptomsThe number of symptoms per person increased from 4.5 last month to 4.9.
The highest number of symptoms was at 13% in the general systemic category with fatigue, fever and drowsiness and at 10.1% in the skin category with eczema and bruises. This was followed by 8.2% each in the throat and respiratory categories with cough, sputum and breathing difficulty, 7.9 % in the cardiovascular category with chest pain, heart pain and palpitations, 6% in the nose category with epistaxis and rhinorrhea, and 5.7% in the eye category with a decrease in visual acuity, dark circles under eyes, bloodshot eyes, and eye pain. Please refer to the original database regarding the details of each category.
Most notable this month were many complaints of mental and cognitive states.
· It seems more difficult than before to form sentences.
· I can only write 150 words at a time, and I can no longer think about forming any more sentences.
· I feel at a loss over an addition such as 150+120+180.
· My reading speed is slower. (I have to keep reading the same part more often than before.) I cannot maintain my concentration.
· Lately I often cannot enunciate words well. During conversations, I frequently cannot find appropriate words or expressions.
· I cannot form my thoughts
· My brain wants to do less and less every day, and my memory is becoming vague.
· I am losing my concentration and feel lethargic.
· I have a marked decrease in memory, concentration, and judgment.
· It might be from a shock due to trauma of the earthquake, but I feel spaced out and cannot think.
· I feel less enthusiastic, have less concentration, and am more forgetful.
· My husband and I both feel our memories are worsening.
· I am more forgetful. I drop things more often when I eat.
· I am having difficulty talking and moving fast.
· It’s becoming harder for me to be watchful and considerate. I think it requires more effort to socialize than before.
· I am more irritated, angrier, and more easily depressed. I was told my personality changed.
· I have an abnormal outburst of rage, and I am more arrogant. I feel stubborn, persistently sticking to a certain idea.
· I don’t feel tired. I feel fine despite sleep deprivation.
· I have a higher tolerance for alcohol. I have an abnormally increased appetite.
The youngest individuals that reported symptoms in mental and cognitive states were in their 20’s, mostly living within a 100 to 300 kilometer range of the reactors. However, these symptoms had been confirmed much earlier among those who were in a close range of 8.5 kilometers from the Fukushima nuclear plants at the time of the accident. In her case report, by the end of March this individual had “difficulty speaking.” In the middle of April she “experienced a marked decrease in memory, concentration and decision-making ability.” Currently she says, “It’s sometimes hard for me to find words to speak or to concentrate. I have difficulty remembering what just happened a moment ago. “ “I thought maintaining a record on my blog of what happened to us since the evacuation might be stimulating to the brain. I have been trying to write sentences, recall and remember things, but each day my brain wants to do it less and less. My memory is becoming vague. I can hardly update my blog.” (This is an actual excerpt from the report).
The contents of e-mails to this writer do reflect the mental and cognitive symptoms of senders. For instance, someone who was writing fluently until two months ago can no longer form coherent sentences. Also some show a lack of objectivity in thoughts so that
Many individuals spend a lot of time indoors due to being nervous about long-term radiation protective measures and safety. They tend to feel depressed because of protective measures they take in their daily lives such as wearing masks when going out and not being able to let children play outside freely to their hearts’ content. Also because of this being winter season, there has been an increase in infectious diseases such as common colds.
Relocation and Medical Care
As regards to relocation, it has remained about the same as previous months at 6%. Many people have not recognized the danger, and even if they do, they are skeptical about relocation. When they bring up the topic of relocation, they might be looked at strangely. Thus many stay where they live even though they might recognize the need for relocation. However, as long as they remain in the contaminated area, the outlook for the improvements in their situation is not hopeful. If someone were to begin having symptoms, there is basically nothing in their present life situations that would promote improvement of the symptoms. Despite an early relocation, many have started to have very serious symptoms after the relocation. Also, people do not seem to grasp that internal radiation exposure will have genetic effects that will be carried on from generation to generation.
Of the reported cases, 39% have visited medical facilities for specific symptoms or general malaise. This is an increase of 4% as compared to last month. It shows that people are actively seeking medical care. When experiencing a casual episode of general malaise or an occurrence of symptoms they never had before, it seems that those who are sensitive to radioactive contamination are beginning to associate the symptoms with external and internal radiation exposures. Based on some reports, there are physicians who -- short of using the word “hibaku” or “radiation exposure”-- might ask the patients about their activities since last March when taking medical histories. Some physicians also are actively palpating the neck and throat area. As such, although some individual understanding and effort is seen amongst medical personnel, this type of response from medical personnel is not by any means widespread. Some physicians simply laugh at the notion of radiation exposure; some don’t talk about it at all, whereas some even deny it. Some people had their feelings hurt by physicians calling them “phobic” or “neurotic” or suggesting that they are “worrying too much.” Much more profound understanding is called for on the part of medical personnel.