TOKYO (majirox news) — Dr. M. Romachev presented a worrisome report on the connection between radiation on childhood cancer in Belarus, which borders Chernobyl. The presentation was given at a symposium on Nov. 18 in Chiba, Japan. Romachev is a doctor and specialist in juvenile cancer and the head of the Russian Commonwealth of Independent States Institute of Juvenile Blood Diseases, Tumors and Immunology.
The purpose of this symposium was to draw lessons from more than 20 years of experience with the Chernobyl disaster so that the people of Fukushima could benefit from this experience. The crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant continues to leak radiation after the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March.
Even after 20 years, high levels of radiation contamination are being found in some children in Belarus. Romachev cites carelessness and disregard of basic precautions when testing food for radioactivity as the likely cause.
The border of Belarus is only a 15-minute drive from Chernobyl in the Ukraine. Both of these countries became independent when the Soviet Union dissolved in the early 1990s. Because of prevailing wind patterns, some parts of Belarus were hit almost as hard by nuclear contamination as Chernobyl.
“Internal radioactive contamination (by eating radioactive food) continues in Belarus,” Romachev said. “It is possible that in some children, permanent damage to the immune system has occurred.”
Romachev conducted tests on 550 children living in Belarus between 2009 and 2010. Romachev detected abnormal levels of radioactivity in one out of every five children.
According to the US Army Field Manual on Ionic Radiation (2006 edition), “A normal adult has a natural radiation level in the range of 4,400 becquerels that is part of the metabolism, and which the body maintains at a fairly constant level.”Romachev found that in the children he tested, over 20% had a level of internal radiation that exceeded 7,000 becquerels. In addition, in 2003, Romachev and his colleagues were able to perform extensive autopsies on adults and children who had died in Belarus that year to measure internal cesium levels. They found that in all cases the major organs had high levels of cesium contamination; in the case of children, their thyroid glands had exceptionally high levels of radioactive contamination at about 1200 becquerels.
Romachev believes that this contamination is the result of complacency and carelessness. “Restrictions on food and proper testing were not carried out with sufficient rigor. When we moved children out of contaminated areas, and had them eat food which had been tested to assure that radioactive contamination was not present, within just three months, their internal level of cesium dropped dramatically.”
Romachev also carried out tests in Bryansk, about 200 kilometers east of Chernobyl. These tests were conducted for ten years between 1998 and 2009. The distance separating Bryansk from Chernobyl is only a bit less than that separating Tokyo and Fukushima. However, due to wind patterns, Bryansk suffered perhaps the worst nuclear contamination of any area of Russia outside the immediate vicinity of Chernobyl. In Tokyo, wind patterns and the mountainous areas to the north and east of Fukushima tend to shield the Tokyo area from potential radioactivity.
In Bryansk, Romachev found that immune system cells in children were about 10% less than the normal level for Russia’s population. He believes there may be a connection to disease and possibly juvenile cancer in this area.
“It’s conceivable that the level of internal radioactive contamination is having various effects on the immune systems of the individuals tested. This certainly calls for an in-depth investigation.”