Researchers Trumpet Another Flawed Fukushima Death Study
By Michael Moyer | December 20, 2011
In June I wrote about a claim that babies in the U.S. were dying as a direct result of Fukushima radiation. A close look at the accusation revealed that the data used by the authors to make the argument showed no such thing. “That data is publicly available,” I wrote, “and a check reveals that the authors’ statistical claims are critically flawed—if not deliberate mistruths.” The authors appeared to start from a conclusion—babies are dying because of Fukushima radiation—and work backwards, torturing the data to fit their claims.
Now the authors have published a revised study (PDF) in the International Journal of Health Services. A press release published to herald the article warns, “14,000 U.S. Deaths Tied to Fukushima Fallout.” This is an alarming accusation. Let’s see how the authors defend it.
First, the authors assert: “In the United States, Fukushima fallout arrived just six days after the earthquake, tsunami, and meltdowns.” They provide no evidence for this assertion, no citation to back up their facts. The authors then note that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency monitored radioactivity in milk, water and air in the weeks and months following the disaster. Ah, here must be the data, the careful reader hopes. Alas, “the number of samples for which the EPA was able to detect measurable concentrations of radioactivity is relatively few,” the authors write. They then conclude, with evident disappointment, 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.” 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.