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Radiation fears as report shows Fukushima fir trees to be growing strangely

47 Comments
By Evie Lund, RocketNews24

Following the events of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant complex, radiologists in Japan have been closely observing the area for potential changes. A new report by the National Institute of Radiological Sciences now suggests that the fir trees in Fukushima may be exhibiting strange growth patterns, with the radiation from the disaster being named as a possible factor.

The report, published on the organisation’s website on August 28, states that when comparing fir trees from within the affected zone to those from areas with lower radioactivity, the fir trees in the affected area were increasingly found to be stunted and exhibiting signs of morphological change, particularly bifurcation, the splitting of a body into two parts, i.e. "branching."

Each year of a healthy fir tree’s growth sees it growing directly upward while also putting out two horizontal branches. Scientists have noted, however, that some of the trees in the affected areas are only branching off into two separate directions at the tip, and exhibiting lack of upward growth.

The changes can be identified in the images above left, which were included with the report. Image A shows a normal example of growth. Note the vertical central branch. Photo B shows a trunk which has entirely split into two, and photo C shows horizontal growth only, with a distinct lack of vertical growth. The red arrows indicate where bifurcation has occurred. You can see in image C how the central, vertical branch of the tree which should be growing upward is missing entirely.

The investigation was conducted in January of this year, with trees examined in Okuma, Fukushima (3.5 kilometres from the nuclear plant), and two locations in Namie, Fukushima (8.5 and 15 kilometres from the plant). Radiation levels in Okuma were recorded at 33.9 microsieverts, and in Namie, the levels were 19.6 and 6.85 microsieverts, respectively. These trees were compared against trees in the north of neighbouring Ibaraki Prefecture from an area with a microsievert reading of 0.13.

Between 100 and 200 trees in each location were examined for changes, with the effect seen more often in the areas with higher levels of radiation. 90% of the trees examined in Okuma exhibited some degree of morphological change, a number which fell to 40% and 30% in Namie, and to less than 10% in northern Ibaraki Prefecture.

The correlation between the frequency of the morphological change and the proximity to the Fukushima Daiichi site/level of radiation recorded suggests that it is likely — but as yet not confirmed — that the changes are connected to the increase in background radiation.

However, the report notes that this particular morphological change has been identified in other areas and can be attributed to a range of other factors including environmental changes and as a result of pest damage. The report states that rather than attributing this change directly to the nuclear disaster, researchers are instead presenting evidence that proves that this change is seen more often when radiation is a contributing factor.

Source: Report on Morphological Changes to Fir Trees in Areas with High Radiation, National Institute of Radiological Sciences

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Incidences of thyroid cancer on the rise among Fukushima children -- Radiation Themed Pop Group Hopes Dashed After Falling Out With Public -- Time to Get Rid of Those Ugly Radiation Suits, Teijin to Unveil Radiation-Proof Fabric

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47 Comments
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Test the Fir Trees in Naraha for goodness sake. If the trees are exhibiting malformations so will everything else growing including young children.

10 ( +18 / -8 )

Whatever happened to the good ole days when every government official was on TV proclaiming that everything was OK and that there was no detectable radiation.

14 ( +18 / -4 )

Two Stories down on the site, government wants people to move back in to towns around the plant. (To be fair they probably don't care one little bit where these people go, just as long as they don't have to pay them anything)

12 ( +16 / -4 )

Background radiation is most likely causing morphological changes in plants and trees, there also studies showing simular affects to insects. Yet somehow the government believes humans are perfectly safe in the same environment.

Rather than using thyroid cancer as the only indicator for negative effects from radiation, simply test the levels of accumulated radiation found in people near Fukushima, to that of people living great distances away. I've seen small studies that are showing much higher levels of radiation in people who live in close proximity or the pathway that the radiation travel, (after the accident). The government needs to do larger studies of this kind and make that information available to the public.

All life is effected differently from high levels radiation but one thing we know for sure, it's quite harmful to most living things on this planet.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Raise your hand if you're surprised. Hello!? I said raise your hands if you're surpri... Oh.... Right?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Bring in experts from the IAEA and find out if there is a problem. There could be another reason for the changes.

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

However, the report notes that this particular morphological change has been identified in other areas and can be attributed to a range of other factors including environmental changes and as a result of pest damage. The report states that rather than attributing this change directly to the nuclear disaster, researchers are instead presenting evidence that proves that this change is seen more often when radiation is a contributing factor.

How's this for circular paragraph? They say that it is not caused by the radiation, but only happens when radiation is present. What sort of garbage statement is that?

4 ( +7 / -3 )

it is hard to believe on the officials any more, even in the surroundings prefectures, with careful analyses, the vegetables and fruits are not the same. if you are growing vegetables and fruits in your house yard, you might see the difference. i do not know whether it is because of the slight radiation, which the officials called present but not dangerous, or something else. This news reports itself shows that strange things are happening.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The changes are most likely caused by the stress from trees worrying about radiation. Perhaps these trees have a view through a house window that shows fear mongering reports on tv.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

It's the fir trees with three eyes that have me worried.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nuclear radiation does a lot more things including birth deformities and infertility. Physical deformities seen in Fukushima butterflies actually became worse in the offspring, even though radiation levels were constant. Don't believe me? Go look at the study for yourself. The study is titled: "The biological impacts of the Fukushima nuclear accident on the pale grass blue butterfly". The effects of nuclear radiation are chronic, not acute. This means that long-term exposure to low-dose nuclear radiation could be worse than short-term exposure to moderate to high-dose nuclear radiation. We will only know the effects of nuclear radiation decades after Fukushima. Encouraging nuclear evacuees to go back to Fukushima is immoral and unjustified. The effects of nuclear radiation will become worse every time a new baby in Fukushima is born. That's how nuclear radiation works, it causes mutations in the sex cells (gametes), causing birth deformities for future generations.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Disillusioned you do understand that there is no such thing as no radiation? I would like to see a study done by outside objective authorities.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

This kind of strong branching is extremetely rare, but it has happened before. They can't blame the radiation. https://arainbowovereurope.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/1-001.jpg

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

Why is anyone surprised by this? I guess so long as there is no Godzilla sprouting out then everything is fine!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

There is something called publication bias that may be relevant here. Basically, when scientists study something, they can do a lot of studies searching for interesting correlations. When they don't find a correlation., they will frequently not even bother publishing the study. It's only when they find something interesting that they will publish. For example, if there are 10 studies on the links between violence in video games and aggressive behavior in gamers and that 8 of them show no correlation, but 2 show some correlation, these latter 2 studies may be published while the first 8 are ignored. So people who follow the media will only hear about the studies that say there is a correlation, giving a false impression of studies 9n the subject.

In this case, the group in question admit they study a lot of different species of plants and animals to try and find some effect they can correlate with radiation. They talk of fir trees only... How many species did they study? Why don't they talk of the results of their studies in other species? If radiation was the culprit, wouldn't it be affecting EVERY species of plant and animal to some degree?

If the only tree species that seems affected is fir trees and other trees keep growing normally, I would be looking at a fir tree-specific cause, not at radiation, which should be affecting all species.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Kchoze:

While I can't vouch for the neutral integrity of this particular study, there are MANY other studies showing negative effects caused by radiation, to plants, various trees and insects. Just because this study has single out their focus on Fir trees doesn't discredit the findings. Here is just one of MANY studies, (from credible, respected scientist) showing extremely harmful effects on plants & other trees, besides just Fir trees.

Effects of radionuclide contamination on forest trees in the exclusion ... www.rri.kyoto-u.ac.jp/anzen_kiban/outcome/...for.../Topics_2-14.pdf

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Disillusioned you do understand that there is no such thing as no radiation? I would like to see a study done by outside >objective authorities.

YuriOtani, read the following below and tell me which part of the

" any increase in dose, no matter how small, incrementally increases risk"

and

"The health risks include increased occurrence of cancer and genetic abnormalities "

you don't understand.

The keyword here is "increase", there is risk of cancer and abnormalities in nature everywhere so it is normal to find outside Fukushima cases of cancer and abnormalities on fir trees , however that risk DOES increase linearly as the radiation exposure increases which is confirmed by this report. People should not relocate there, period.

Along with other national and international regulatory agencies responsible for radiation protection, the NRC assumes that any exposure to radiation poses some health risk, and that risk increases as exposure increases in a linear, no-threshold (LNT) manner. The LNT assumption suggests that any increase in dose, no matter how small, incrementally increases risk. Conversely, lower levels of radiation proportionately decrease the risk, such that very small radiation doses have very little risk. The health risks include increased occurrence of cancer and genetic abnormalities in future generations. Since it is assumed that any exposure to radiation poses some health risk, it makes sense to keep radiation doses as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA).

0 ( +2 / -2 )

A great boon for bonsai enthusiasts, I would think...

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

There is a lot more natural background radiation in Colorado then close to Fukushima. Trees got used to it as did everything else.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Utrack SEP. 06, 2015 - 07:38AM JST Test the Fir Trees in Naraha for goodness sake. If the trees are exhibiting malformations so will everything else growing including young children.

That's a bit oversimplified.

Human biology and tree biology are not the same, which is why you don't have roots in the ground and don't photosynthesize. You have bones that take up calcium, so Strontium-89 (which is in the same atomic group as calcium and forms chemical bonds similarly) is going to affect you differently from how it affects a tree. Radiation isn't as simple as "exposure therefore mutation", which isotopes accumulate in which tissues is a huge factor, and how the radioactive materials get into your body is a factor in how they accumulate in certain tissues instead of others.

Now, yeah, mutating trees are a huge red flag and we need to have experts studying this area closely. We need regular dosimeter checks, but even more than that we need to find out which isotopes are in the environment and how they are being taken into bodies. But it's not as simple as saying that just because one thing mutates, everything else is going to mutate.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Sometimes I wonder if I'm reading a movie review. Just can't believe a government would allow their own people to live in such conditions. Show us the list of government officials moving in to the area with their young family members and I'll move there myself to help rebuild the economy.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

katsu78

That's a bit oversimplified

Why not, humans are not apart from nature but apart of nature. We eat the fruit from trees every intakes water. and if either is radioactive we intake that too. Simple as that.... Nuclear power plants Create 3000 radioisotopes some short lived and some long. So suffice to say the long lived radioisotopes are in the environment and children also the elderly are more susceptible to said radioisotopes Simple as that. Trees expel oxygen and we intake oxygen. see any connections?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The LNT assumption suggests that any increase in dose, no matter how small, incrementally increases risk.

"Assumption" is indeed the correct word. It is an embarrassment that such a piece of politically motivated junk science is used to set policy and safety standards in the 21st century.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Also the accumulation of radioisotopes in the environment is not good for plant or animal. A Humans vital organs the liver and kidneys are very susceptible to the initial radioisotope contamination and this spreads with a large percentage being eliminated through waste. but the remaining radioisotopes get reabsorbed into the body and circulates. This accumulates as long as you intake radioisotopes. The air, rain, food, water. can be contaminated with radioisotopes as well as the ground.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Well, is there anything we can do about it than to feel and see the effects and to blame whoever we can for the incompetence of those responsible? Worst, the JGov is now asking former inhabitants affected by radiation who evacuated to go back to their homes... Am wondering now why there are sooooo many weirdo acts and crimes, murdering, bullying, stealing women under wears, men groping women inside the train, child and animal abusers, to name a few roaming everywhere in this beautiful and safe country. Could these be the evolving radiation effects of the A-bomb dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki affecting their brains and behaviour? Just like the Fir trees? Just hypothesis...;)

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

So with that said Chernobyl would have reports as well. Everything I've seen on Chernobyl shows nature is thriving.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

How's this for circular paragraph? They say that it is not caused by the radiation, but only happens when radiation is present. What sort of garbage statement is that?

No, they didn't say it "only" happens when radiation is present. They said it happens more frequently when radiation is present. So, there are few doubts about the fact that the increase is because of radiation. But this kind of anomalies can happen also in absence of high level of radiations. This was the point of the paragraph that you consider "garbage". It was absolutely clear to me, I'm surprised you even got so many thumbs up. Anyway, it's obvious we'll have some consequences from this nuclear accident. It's not the first time human being must deal with nuclear contamination. In some parts of Europe we are still paying the price for Chernobyl.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Given the fearmongering here, I think some people have not noticed that the report concerns trees in the most contaminated areas, and they have also not read the last paragraph:

However, the report notes that this particular morphological change has been identified in other areas and can be attributed to a range of other factors including environmental changes and as a result of pest damage. The report states that rather than attributing this change directly to the nuclear disaster, researchers are instead presenting evidence that proves that this change is seen more often when radiation is a contributing factor.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Any increase in the radiation level is not a good thing. However Japan has a lousy record about other types of pollution and Chernobyl is doing alright becoming a sanctuary for many endangered species. It would not surprise me if companies were dropping their toxic waste in that location. The radiation levels are so low in my mind but I was trained to fight atomic conflict. I was trained using rems as the measuring standard. The initial radiation levels assuming no actual attacks in Japan was 50 rems per hour. I am not sure what the period is being used but 33.9 microsieverts comes out to 3.39. Remember I am not a doctor and was taught by the Americans people could take 50 rems in a short time, 250 was 50 percent deaths and 500 was getting close to 100 percent. I had a lot of imaging last year so my dose was 2 rems. I really think people are upset over nothing. Now if they were as careful about other things they would live longer.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

YuriOtani - I really think people are upset over nothing. Now if they were as careful about other things they would live longer.

Yes, that's right Yuri, but living longer with two heads or three eyes is not a good thing, is it?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Disillusioned,

Yes, that's right Yuri, but living longer with two heads or three eyes is not a good thing, is it?

Two heads or three eyes? Sounds like bad SF, not good science.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

" any increase in dose, no matter how small, incrementally increases risk" and "The health risks include increased occurrence of cancer and genetic abnormalities " you don't understand.

Oh understanding the statements is easy. The fact that the first one is false is what the problem is.

If that first statement were true then cancers would occur more often in Denver than in Miami and more often in Kerala, India than in Denver. Yet all three places show similar cancer rates when adjusted for lifestyle factors.

The risk DOES NOT increase linearly. The LNT has been proven wrong again and again.

Why not, humans are not apart from nature but apart of nature.

Yes we are. But different species metabolize things differently. Compounds in chocolate are poisonous to dogs a yet (except obesity) are not harmful to humans.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Only dark chocolate is considered healthy for humans. but I digress, the problem at hand is radioisotope contamination. Those who feel that all is well can go live in Naraha, I am sure there will be homes available.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Utrack,

Got a good job guarantee with that?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

- Star-vikingSEP. 07, 2015 - 08:39AM JST Utrack,

Got a good job guarantee with that?

< Sure, you can start an entire level job cleaning up nuclear waist.>

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Star-viking

Here you go a link from METI http://www.meti.go.jp/english/publications/pdf/journal2013_08b.pdf

Enjoy Naraha

0 ( +1 / -1 )

A Humans vital organs the liver and kidneys are very susceptible to the initial radioisotope contamination

If you know anyone who has gone through chemotherapy and or radiation treatment for cancer, their liver and kidneys do suffer from radiation exposure.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

So they "selected" 200 trees in each location. Well, who selected the trees and how? Let me select 200 trees for you out of a forest, and I can show you and pattern that I want to.

In one word: ridiculous.

Chernobyl, by the way has and is being radiated at a vastly higher scale, and the area is a nature paradise.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Radiation Nephropathy

Classic radiation nephropathy occurs after bilateral, local kidney irradiation. It is a syndrome of chronic renal failure, occurring months or years after renal irradiation.[1] Acute radiation nephropathy develops 6-12 months after irradiation, whereas chronic radiation nephropathy develops years later.

An excess occurrence of chronic kidney disease is reported in long-term survivors of the atomic bomb explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.[4] Total or partial body radiation exposures as might occur in an accident or a belligerent exposure may also cause renal injury.

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/243766-overview

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I find it genuinely Hillarious that because trees are showing problems that a poster has concluded that children will.

And at least 10 people have agreed with that statement.

Just Hillarious

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Heda_Madness I find it genuinely Hillarious that because trees are showing problems that a poster has concluded that children will.

< Maybe you can provide us with a list of things that are harmful to trees but good for us? >

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Maybe you can provide us with a list of things that are harmful to trees but good for us?

Yeah, sorry. I forgot that the biological properties of trees are the same as humans. I forgot that the way trees and humans derive energy was the same, I forgot that the measures taken to prevent contamination into human food was the same as for plant life. Etc etc etc

It's simply ludicrous to suggest that because there are issues with trees there will be cancer for children. Ludicrous. Still, why don't you I don't know, publish a paper to say, nature magazine, telling them of this scientific breakthrough that you think has just occurred.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Heda_Madness: I simply asked if you could provide us with a list of things that are harmful to trees but good for humans.

So you're unable to provide that information, thank you.

Then you wrote, It's simply ludicrous to suggest that because there are issues with trees there will be cancer in children.

NONE of my comments said that, and as a mater of fact, I stated that the they should focus on accumulated radiation in humans rather than trying to link cancers. But you already knew that, and have showed me your typical response, thank you again.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Stuart hayward

"Got a good job guarantee with that?"

< Sure, you can start an entire level job cleaning up nuclear waist.

Sorry Stuart, I'm more in the academic side of things.

Utrack,

Here you go a link from METI http://www.meti.go.jp/english/publications/pdf/journal2013_08b.pdf

Enjoy Naraha

Ah, you're going to venture fund me? I might consider that!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Stuart...why does everything have to be about you? My original post was to a different user. Your question seemed to show a lack of scientific understanding so I clarified it. I then further reinforced my point to another poster.

But given that numerous scientific studies have been made that show there are limited risks to health perhaps you could explain why they are wrong. And that we should be worried that because trees have problems then children will get cancer.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Star Viking: Sorry Stuart, I'm more the academic side of things. < Then maybe you can take samples of the highest contaminated nuclear hot spots and write a report about it? >

I never claimed a tree is a human, lol. A tree needs the four basic elements in order to survive -- soil, water, air, and fire (sun). I guess were not similar at all.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Stuart,

"Sorry Stuart, I'm more the academic side of things."

Then maybe you can take samples of the highest contaminated nuclear hot spots and write a report about it?

Well, this back-and-forth was about a good job - so if you are willing to pony up the cash to establish a Radionuclide Remediation Institute, I'm afraid a one-off sortie is out.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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