The Sept. 16 Timeout article on antinuclear campaigner Arnie Gundersen, titled “The government could still save lives’,” sadly delves into scaremongering. Gundersen’s claims of massive casualties from xenon and krypton isotopes is not supported in scientific literature. That’s because of a few factors: The xenon and krypton isotopes are gases, so they spread out and are diluted rapidly in the atmosphere. They also are not retained in the body and, for this reason, do not have intake limits.
Gundersen’s comment on thyroid nodules and cysts detected in Fukushima children, which he attributes to “iodine contamination,” (presumably from the isotope iodine-131), is also far off the mark. Recent research from Germany indicates that modern ultrasonic scanners, of the type used in thyroid studies, detect many more thyroid details — thus more nodules and cysts — than older machines. That’s why the government is running comparison studies in other parts of Japan to get a good baseline for the study.
Gundersen’s claims that cars use the same amount of air as a person is also flawed. Data published by the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society estimated that even compact cars used as much as 29 times the amount of air as a person. It must also be considered that cars operate only in the outside environment; people spend more time inside.
Despite all his work and apparently illustrious career, Gundersen has failed to publish results of his investigations. If he is truly an expert, he should publish all the calculations and work he claims to have made in scientific papers so that they can be examined. (I have provided scientific references to The Japan Times with this letter.) Until then, he should stop scaremongering, which increases the anxiety of those suffering from the Fukushima disaster.
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.