For the survey, an international team of experts analyzed all available data since the nuclear power plant accident two years ago, the world health organization (WHO) announced in geneva on thursday. There are only minor additional health risks within a radius of up to 20 kilometers around the plant. The environmental organization greenpeace, on the other hand, accuses the WHO of playing down risks.
WHO recommends long-term medical observations of the affected population. Beyond some immediate radiation sites, however, the organization gave the all-clear: extensive studies by international experts had shown that the "predicted risks to the general population within and outside japan are low and no measurable increases in cancer rates above baseline levels are to be expected.".
But there was concern about the increased risk of specific cancers from radiation exposure in certain places and among some of the population, said maria neira, WHO director of public health and the environment. For example, the future risk of breast cancer in women who lived in the most severely affected areas as children is expected to be six percent higher than normal.
The risk of blood cancer for men is seven percent higher under the same circumstances. An increased risk of thyroid cancer has also been calculated for women who were exposed to radiation as children in parts of the fukushima area: while the risk over a lifetime is normally 0.75 percent, it is an additional 0.5 percent higher for women from the most affected areas.
About one-third of emergency team members who worked at the nuclear power plant were thought to be at increased risk of cancer. Two-thirds of them, on the other hand, are at no greater risk than the average population. As early as may 2012, the WHO declared that radiation exposure following the accident at fukushima was lower than feared and mostly within permissible limits.
Greenpeace accused the WHO of failing to adequately determine the radiation dose to which people had been exposed at the time. "The WHO is shamefully downplaying the consequences of the early release of radioactivity from the fukushima disaster on those people within the 20-kilometer evacuation zone who were unable to leave the area quickly," said greenpeace radiation expert rianne teule. The WHO report was "a political statement to protect the nuclear industry".