The meltdown and release of radioactivity (ionizing radiation) from four damaged nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Nuclear Facility in Japan in March, 2011 continues to contaminate air and ocean water even one year later. Chronic exposure to low-dose ionizing radiation will occur over large populations well into the future. This has caused grave concern among researchers and the public over the very long period of time expected for decommissioning alone (current estimate from official sources is 30-40 years) and the presumed adverse effects of chronic, low-dose ionizing radiation on children, adults and the environment. Ultimately, radioactive materials from Fukushima will circulate for many years, making health impacts a predictable concern for many generations (Yasunari et al, 2011, TEPCO, 2012).
There is long-standing scientific evidence to suggest low-dose ionizing radiation (LD-IR) and low-intensity non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation (LI-NIER) in the form of extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF) and radiofrequency radiation (RFR) share similar biological effects. Public health implications are significant for reconstruction efforts to rebuild in post-Fukushima Japan.
It is relevant to identify and reduce exposure pathways for chronic, low-dose ionizing radiation in post-Fukushima Japan given current scientific knowledge. Intentional planning, rather than conventional planning is needed to reduce concomitant chronic low intensity exposure to non-ionizing radiation (LD-NIR). These are reasonably well-established risks to health in the scientific literature, as evidenced by their classification by World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as Possible Human Carcinogens. Reducing preventable, adverse health exposures in the newly re-built environment to both LD-IR and LI-NIER is an achievable goal for Japan.
Recovery and reconstruction efforts in Japan to restore the communications and energy infrastructure, in particular should pursue strategies for reduction and/or prevention of both kinds of exposures. The design life of buildings replaced today is probably 35 to 50 years into the future. Cumulative health risks may be somewhat mitigated if the double exposure (to both chronic low-dose IR from the Fukushima reactors and LI-NIER (EMF and RFR) in new buildings and infrastructure) can be dealt with effectively in early planning and design in Japan’s reconstruction.