A relay marathon was planned to take place in Fukushima prefecture yesterday. The area where the race was to take place has radiation levels equal to the mandatory evacuation zone in Chernobyl. Someone went to Fukushima with a radiation detector and camera and took readings. One point of reading is in front of a horse race track. The horse race track is closed down, they didn’t want the horses to be irradiated. But it is ok for teenage girls to run a marathon in the same area.
The readings on the race path are higher than they are at J Village. Workers outside at J Village are still required to wear a protective suit and face mask. Young girls running the race wore no protection. Just imaging how much contaminated air each one breathed in while running that race. Young female workers at nuclear facilities have tougher restrictions on exposure and are banned from certain higher risk jobs due to the increased risks from radiation contamination.
The government has announced they will begin ultrasound thyroid checks of 360,000 children in Japan that may have been exposed to radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. In one local visit doctors performed ultrasound scans on 240 children. This is a huge number of patients to scan in one day and raises concerns about the quality of the exam. We did some estimates on the program. 360,000 children in 2 years (730 days) you would need to scan 493 children per day. If you had 10 doctors with 10 ultrasound machines doing 300 children per day they would have about two minutes each to read the scan in three dimensions, compare to a previous scan (if there is one), diagnose structures, take any patient information etc. An estimate on an average thyroid ultrasound in a clinic setting is 30 minutes total to complete the scan.
Adding to the concerns is a previous announcement that people with radiation exposure must go to one of these government clinics, they are not to be scanned or evaluated by regular medical doctors.
Thyroid evaluation is a complex task even under the best of circumstances to accurately evaluate a patient’s condition. This current situation could also have the unintended consequence of preventing patients from getting medical evaluation for other thyroid diseases that would not have an origin in radiation exposure due to the ban on doctors evaluating patients.
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