• Palo Alto, California

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In the July 31 article “Fukushima teacher muzzled over radiation,” Chris Busby, a professor who visited Fukushima recently, is quoted as saying, “When you bring out the (Geiger) machines, you can see everything is sparkling and everyone is being bitten by invisible snakes that will eventually kill them.”

This is fear-mongering of the worst kind. A small fraction of the children said to be exposed to 20 millisieverts per year would eventually die if such rates of exposure continued for 50 years, but that is unlikely because of the weathering of radioactivity already released and the lack of a significant release since the spring accident was brought under control. Radiation levels will continue to decline so that it is unlikely that cancer rates in today’s exposed children will be distinguishable from rates before the accident.

Cancer rates in survivors exposed to radiation from the atomic bombings in Japan were shown to be elevated only if they had been exposed to 100 millisieverts or more. The details are in the numbers. It’s a judgment call every parent will need to consider. But they should keep the risk values, the mitigation techniques and the consequences of evacuation in mind as they decide what to do. Busby sounds like an alarmist with an ulterior motive.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

roland finston

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