Actual lives versus statistical deaths.

The BBC has some very good pictures of the site here. They aren’t close enough for much detail…for obvious reasons.

And here’s their latest. The total number of dead and missing is about 15,000.

There’s so much info, I can’t remember what Japan said would be the maximium emergency dose per worker. I think it was 25 rem, or 0.25 Sv. The United States “allows” twice that, .5 Sv or 50 rem. (I say “allows” because it also has a caveat that permits for heroic death by volunteers.)

15,000 dead or missing. But if Fukushima holds to <0.25 Sv, the death toll from radiation is at “zero” and will stay there. I don’t know if people understand that. Rescue workers are shifting through rubble to save actual lives, real people. The gargantuan Fukushima response is to prevent “statistical” deaths.

In my very first post on this, which got the Instalink and the most attention, I offered to bet my life against anything you care to wager that:

No one will die from acute exposure. And if there’s any increase in cancer, it will be totally lost in statistical noise.

Man, I sweated bullets after the fuel pool explosions! I’m glad no gambling addicts came by. And it’s by no means certain that we’ve seen the last ugly wrinkle. But I’ve lost enough smugness to retract that first offer for a less sweet one. My life against yours, and people volunteering for death don’t apply.

See, Fukushima decided not to sacrifice real lives for statistical ones. I wasn’t sure for awhile. So barring yet another giant surprise, no gallant responders will be klled while taming this monster. The citizenry has been moved outward, to twelve miles. They won’t see dangerous levels of contamination, much less acute radiation exposures. Anyone going inward is a responder. No one ventures into unknown dose rates; they either have my Japanese counterpart with them or at least wear real-time responding dosimetry.

In the end, this disaster will be blamed for lots and lots of “statistical” deaths. Thousands, possibly. Radiophobes will commission their own studies and come up with the biggest figure they think won’t be laughed at. And every one, a statistical death.

Do you worry about getting cancer every time you make a round-trip flight? That’s 2 to 5 millirem. Okay, okay, 20 to 50 microSv, but I use these foreign terms under protest.

Well, every single microSv picked up from the Fukushima source, from however many millions of people, will be added up and assumed to have caused cancer. And those models are wrong.

How do I know? Do you worry about “cancer by airline”? You shouldn’t. Flight attendants pick up far more “Delta radiation”–sorry, couldn’t resist–than you. for a half-century now. How much has that increased their cancers? I’m unaware of any study showing any heightened risk.

Over 9,000 people are still missing. Many or most are dead. But some will still be found and rescued. Those are real lives saved.

Fukushima is preventing statistical deaths.

About wormme

I've accepted that all of you are socially superior to me. But no pretending that any of you are rational.
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8 Responses to Actual lives versus statistical deaths.

  1. Mountainbear says:

    According to Japanese police 5,692 dead are now confirmed. 9,506 people are still missing.

    In Miyagi Prefecture, 3,158 people have been confirmed dead and 2,157 are missing. Iwate Prefecture has confirmed 1,905 deaths, and says 3,853 people are missing.

    Fukushima has 574 confirmed deaths and more than 3,491 missing. In the Kanto region, dozens of people died in the disaster, including 19 in Ibaraki and 7 in Tokyo.

    More than 305,000 people have sought refuge in about 2,260 shelters.

  2. ams says:

    I heard last night that they decided to raise the dose limits of the 50 workers to 100 rem before requiring them to leave the site. I would have kept it at 25, and cycled people more often – 100 is where radiation sickness begins to set in, right?

    • wormme says:

      It’s pretty much the threshold at which the most radiosensitive people can feel something. Headache, fatigue. Given their situation, headaches and fatigue will be universal long before getting to 100 rem.

      White blood cell depression is the quantifiable effect at this level. Especially if you took baseline blood samples before the irradiation (and they should do that if they’re bumping up to 1 Sv). If you don’t have a baseline then some other factor could fool you, one way or another.

  3. ams says:

    Of course, I say that as a sideline quarterback. I wonder what their reasoning is in putting them at that much risk? When do (measurable) increased cancer rates set in (for radiation, not radioactive contamination – I assume all of them have taken iodide and are wearing suits)?

  4. Mountainbear says:

    Going into the statistical deaths for a second. It will be like with “second hand smoking.” There’s this study from the university of Heidelberg in Germany, that, among other things, states that every year 3,301 people die in Germany due to second hand smoking or passive smoking as they like to call it here. Strange number, no? 3,300 and one. Then, they claim, there are 20 million passive smokers in Germany (a few pages later there are suddenly 35 million), but if you go ahead and divide those 20 million up betweeen the age groups of 20 to 80 years of age, you come to 333,000 passive smokers in every age group. And those claimed 3,301 deaths by passive smoking are then less than 1% of the passive smokers, which makes it irrelevant for any statistic.

    The 3,301 deaths by passive smoking are also 0.3% of the number of annual deaths in Germany (above 800,000 deaths per year.) 2,108 of them, 64%, are people at 75 years of age or above. Hardly significant for any statistic.

    But the best part is this: the age group from 65 to 85 has a 53% risk to die from passive smoking, so the study says. One look into the German death statistics, however, tells us that everybody between 65 and 85 has a 53% risk to die.

    Now mind you, I know smoking is hardly healthy and there are considerable risks. There is a higher risk for cardio-vascular diseases, of course, and not to forget cancer in all its forms, but in those cases the patient’s genetic material is also important. I know a German entertainer who is above 90 years old and has been smoking like the chimney of a steel foundry his whole life. He has nothing and is, for his age, in great condition. And I know a few more of similar cases. I also know of healthy young people who suddenly fall over, dead. Welcome to life, there are no guarantees. Anyway.

    I’m willing to bet that the, how did you call them, radiophobes will come up with a similar wonky statistic to support their weird studies.

    And to finish this: Several years ago an oncologist told me that all of us would die of cancer, every single one of us. Most people just don’t live long enough to experience it.

    • wormme says:

      That…that’s amazing. Even for activist algebra. Everyone between 65 and 85 dies of passive smoking. Including the smokers.

    • bxg says:

      > But the best part is this: the age group from 65 to 85 has a 53% risk to die from passive smoking, so the study says. One look into the German death statistics, however, tells us that everybody between 65 and 85 has a 53% risk to die.

      I’m all for criticizing bogus studies, but I find it hard to believe this is could be an accurate representation of their intended claim (or maybe I’m misinterpreting you). You’d get a far, far, higher dealth-by-passive-smoking count than _their_ value of 3300 (and one!) under any such assumption.

  5. Pingback: ABC reports something either horrifically true, or tremendously inaccurate. | World's Only Rational Man

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