I was really looking forward to this report when it came out but a guy I read a lot had this to say:
Fukushima...One More Time
Fukushima Disaster & Radiation Poisoning | Natural Health Newsletter
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Date: 01/16/2012 Written by: Jon Barron © 1999-2011 The Baseline of Health Foundation
Fukushima...One More Time
Back in December, a press release1 was broadcast to the media about a peer reviewed study conducted by Joseph J. Mangano and Janette D. Sherman (M&S)
that claimed that at least 14,000 people (with a special focus on children under the age of one) had died in the U.S. during the 14 weeks following
the Fukushima disaster.2 At the time, I ignored the study for several reasons.
The peer reviewed journal in question is not that notable -- ranking 2883 for its impact within the scientific community among all scientific
journals, and 29th within its own category of Health Care Sciences and Services.3 (That doesn't mean it's a bad journal -- just that other
researchers don't cite it much.)
The fact that the study results were broadcast through a press release is "odd" to say the least.
Not many media outlets carried the story. The Sacramento Bee did, but not many others. (The story is now curiously missing from the Bee's website.)
No one wrote into the Foundation asking about it.
And radioactive iodine and cesium just don't kill that quickly unless the doses are massive. It made no sense.
But recently, things have changed a bit. Several significant alternative health websites have picked up on the study and are trumpeting its "peer
reviewed" credentials. What this means, of course, is that questions are starting to stream into the Foundation -- questions that now must be
However, before I address the study itself, I need to mention something. I have spent six of the last seven newsletters trashing peer reviewed studies
from the medical community that disparaged nutrients and concepts strongly supported in the alternative health community: vitamins E and D, niacin,
and that weight gain really results from what you eat, for example. It would be, at the very least, hypocritical to suddenly exhort the virtues of a
peer reviewed study simply because its conclusions are in line with beliefs held by many of my associates, without at least putting the study under
the same scrutiny that I have exercised when evaluating mainstream studies. And as it turns out, when you actually do that -- put the study in
question under a magnifying glass -- it doesn't stand up.
That said, let's look at the study and explore some of the problem areas in it.
Examining the Fukushima "death" study
As Michael Moyer in his Scientific American blog4 points out, the study provides no evidence for one of its fundamental assertions: that significant
levels of Fukushima fallout arrived in the United States just six days after the reactor meltdown. The study's authors provide no evidence for this
assertion, nor any citation to back up their facts. Moyer also points out that even the study's authors acknowledge that the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency's monitoring of radioactivity in milk, water, and air in the weeks and months following the disaster found relatively few samples
that demonstrated any measurable concentrations of radioactivity. But undeterred by this lack of supporting evidence, the authors pull an unsupported
conclusion out of their hats and state that "clearly, the 2011 EPA reports cannot be used with confidence for any comprehensive assessment of
temporal trends and spatial patterns of U.S. environmental radiation levels originating in Japan." Or as Moyer sums up their conclusion, "In other
words, the EPA didn't find evidence for the plume that our entire argument depends on, so ‘clearly' we can't trust the agency's data."
Moyer goes on to argue about how the study relies on "sloppy statistics" by using data from 122 cities, 25 to 35 percent of the national total, to
project data for the entire country. And he further indicates that others have accused the authors of cherry picking the data. But this all misses the
key point: that the data itself is bogus -- cherry picked or not. And here we find that SpunkyMonkey in the Physics Forums (a favorite haunt of
nuclear engineers) did a great job of exposing this major flaw in the study.5 And I quote:
"Immediately seeing major problems with that study by Mangano & Sherman (M&S), I asked a statistician what he thought of it. He crunched the data and
while he found several devastating statistical problems, his most remarkable finding was that the U.S. infant-death data M&S report as being from the
CDC does not jibe with the actual CDC infant-death data for the same weeks.
"The M&S infant-death data allegedly from the CDC can be seen here (go to Table 3, page 55). And the actual CDC infant-death data can be seen here
(go to Locations, scroll down and select Total and press Submit for the data; the data for infants is in the Age column entitled "Less than 1"). The
mismatching data sets are included at the end of this post, and with the links I've provided here, everything I'm saying can be independently
confirmed by the reader.
"Here are the mismatching data sets, note that post-Fuku weeks 15 through 24 do match:
(Note: this is not the actual chart on SpunkyMonkey's post. His didn't adjust for the exclusion of Ft. Worth, New Orleans, and Phoenix. M&S state in
their report that they pulled those cities from the data since they did not consistently report data for the required timeframes. In truth, it didn't
change things very much. Nevertheless, I did that so we'd have an apples-to-apples comparison. I also included a comparison of the data for the
previous 12 months -- as that also plays a key role in "proving" M&S's premise, and the discrepancies are even more egregious.)
"The nature of the mismatch is that all the pre-Fukushima M&S data points are lower than the actual CDC data points and bias the data set to a
statistically significant increase in post-Fukushima infant deaths. But in the actual CDC data, there is no statistically significant increase. The
statistician also found that even M&S's data for all-age deaths was in fact not statistically significant, contrary to the claim of M&S."
(Note how the M&S data and the adjusted CDC data actually tend to match number-for-number post-Fukushima, which pretty much confirms that we're all
working from the same CDC database. Also you will note, the identical sort of discrepancies hold true for the data presented for the previous 12
months -- again biasing the data to a statistically significant, but unsupported, increase in deaths from one year to the next.)
"Why the infant data are mismatched is not understood at this time. However, a review of the archived copies of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly
Report archive finds that the historically released data points for the weeks in question jibe with the CDC's MMWR database. So I see no reason to
believe the CDC's online data are not the true data."
The bottom line is that it looks as though the alternative health writers who jumped onboard the Mangano & Sherman Report and pitched its shocking
conclusions to their followers were tricked into buying the proverbial pig in a poke. That's no