With Japan battling a nuclear crisis at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex following the March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami, fears over the health implications of radiation leaks from the plant have been the foremost concerns amongst both authorities and citizens.
What is commonly refered to as ‘radiation’ is more accurately described as ‘ionising radiation': the kind of electromagnetic wave that has enough energy to remove electrons from atoms, or even to break up the nucleus of an atom. Wavelengths for ionising radiation tend to be from 10^(-8) metres (the wavelength of ultraviolent light) and lower.
The lower the wavelength, the higher the energy transmitted by electromagnetic waves. Thus radio waves (with wavelengths between one and 100 metres) have relatively low energy (and are therefore not potentially harmful to humans), while X-rays (with wavelengths of 10^(-10) metres) have higher energy. Gamma rays, the most dangerous kind of electromagnetic radiation, have a wavelength of the order of 10^(-12) metres.
Radiation can also be transmitted through alpha (α) and beta (β) particles. Alpha particles have two protons and two neutrons (identical to a Helium nucleus), thus giving it a positive charge of +2. Beta particles are identical to electrons, and thus have a negative charge of -1. All of the radioactive elements listed below emit beta particles, and not alpha particles.
Exposure to large amounts of high-energy radioactivity can cause nausea, vomiting, hair loss, diarrhoea, haemorrhaging, destruction of intestinal lining, central nervous system damage and death. It can also cause DNA damage and raise the risk of cancer, particularly in young children.
Below are the three radioactive substances health experts have been most concerned about after the radiation leaks at the Fukushima plant.
Radiation levels are provided in becquerels (Bq), a unit of measuring radioactivity. One becquerel is defined as that quantity of a material that will undergo one nucleus decay per second. In a fixed mass of substance, becquerel readings change with time, to indicate how radioactive they may be at any given moment. A vegetable with a certain becquerel reading for a radioactive element, therefore, will see that number decrease steadily unless exposed to further radiation.
Absorbed radiation is measured in Sieverts (Sv), a unit that attempts to quantify the biological effects of ionising radiation.
The table to the right shows the effects of short-term, high-level exposure to radiation (measured in millisieverts), as published by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Leafy green vegetables in several prefectures near the Fukushima plant – Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma – have been found to contain up to 22,000 becquerels of iodine-131 for every kilogram.
These levels are 11 times those set by the European Union as safety standards.
Eating a kilogram of such vegetables would give the person consuming it half the amount of radiation an average person is typically exposed to from the natural environment in a year.
Eating a kilogram every day for 45 days would accumulate 50 millisieverts (mSv), the annual radiation limit set for nuclear plant workers.
Exposure to 100mSv per year increases a person’s risk of cancer. It is the equivalent of approximately three full-body CT scans.
If inhaled or swallowed, iodine-131 concentrates in the body’s thyroid gland and increases the risk of thyroid cancer. Children, fetuses and young adults are particularly vulnerable to this risk.
The risk of thyroid cancer can be lowered by the ingestion of potassium iodide pills, a compound that helps to prevent the absorption of the radioactive iodine.
Iodine-131 does, however, disintegrate relatively quickly, with its radioactivity levels halving every eight days. Based on the levels of radioactivity measured on March 24, it would lose its harmfulness in 80 days.
Vegetables in Japan have also been found to be tainted with up to 14,000Bq of caesium per kilogram.
Again, this exceeds EU guideline limits by 11 times.
Eating a kilogram of such vegetables every day for 30 days would accumulate the equivalent radiation of a full body CT scan, or 20mSV.
External exposure to large amounts of radioactive caesium can also cause burns, acute radiation sickness and death, depending on the amount of exposure.
Ingesting or inhaling caesium allows it to be distributed in the body’s soft tissue, particularly muscle tissue, increasing the risk of cancer.
It can also cause spasms, involuntary muscular contractions and infertility.
Unlike iodine, the uptake (absorption) of radioactive caesium cannot be prevented once a person has been exposed to it.
Caesium is also particularly dangerous because it has a much longer radioactive half-life than iodine-131. Caesium-137 takes 30 years for its radioactivity to half, meaning that it would take 240 years for this contaminant to exhaust its dangerous radioactivity, based on March 24 levels.
Caesium-134 has a half-life of two years, meaning that it would take about 20 years for it to become harmless.
The chart below shows typical sources and estimated levels of radiation (in Seiverts) that an average person is exposed to, compared to both EPA guidelines and harmful doses. While the creator, Randall Munroe, explicitly states that it is not meant to serve as a basis for radiation safety procedures, it does serve as a useful guide.
The science ministry says the amount of radiation accumulated over about half a month in some areas of Fukushima Prefecture has exceeded the permissible level for a whole year.
Since March 23rd, the ministry has been measuring radiation levels in 15 locations more than 20 kilometers away from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
At one location, in Namie Town about 30 kilometers northwest of the plant, 14,480 microsieverts of radiation had accumulated over the 17-day period to Sunday. 8,440 microsieverts of radiation were observed in Iitate Village.
In another location in Namie, the amount reached 6,430 microsieverts.
People would be exposed to this accumulated amount of radiation if they had stayed outdoors throughout the entire period.
The level at one location was more than 14 times the 1,000 microsieverts that the International Commission on Radiological Protection recommends as the long-term annual reference level for people. The recommended level of 1,000 microsieverts excludes radiation from the natural environment and medical devices.
Hiroshima University Professor Kiyoshi Shizuma says most of the radiation observed in Fukushima is believed to be radioactive cesium that has fallen to the ground.
Shizuma advises residents to wear masks to avoid inhaling radioactive substances mixed with dust.
He points to the need to take samples both from the air and the ground for detailed analyses in order to assess any possible impact on human health.
Monday, April 11, 2011 21:20 +0900 (JST)
“The future of humankind is present today within the bodies of living people, animals and plants — the whole seedbearing biosphere. This living biosystem which we take so much for granted has evolved slowly into a relatively stable dynamic equilibrium, with predictable interactions between plants and animals, between microscopic and macroscopic life, between environmental pollutants and human health. Changes in the environment disturb this balance in two ways: first, by altering the carefully evolved seed by randomly damaging it, and second, by altering the habitat, i.e. food, climate or environment, to which the seed and/or organism has been adapted, making life for future generations more difficult or even impossible.
Although examples of maladaptation in nature and resulting species extinction abound, our focus here is on human seed, the sperm and ovum, and the effect on it and on the human habitat resulting from increasing ionising radiation in the environment.
The increased use of radioactive materials, which is a direct outgrowth of the current military and energy policies of the developed world, provides an opportunity for gauging what priority these countries give to the health and well-being of individual citizens, and for gauging governments’ understanding of the tension between individual and national survival. The first indicator of underlying national priorities is the precision or lack of precision with which health effects are predicted, and the thoroughness with which an audit is taken and the predictions checked against reality. The audit findings should be reported to the person or people affected, and their participation sought in formulating changes in policy to remedy any unanticipated problems. The individual’s sense of self-preservation and personal benefit, in such an ideal system, would give realistic feedback to governments on the acceptability of national policy. The combined experiences of governing and governed would forge a national consensus on future directions.
The Fissioning Process and its Consequences
In order to understand nuclear technology and its impact on human health, three atomic-level events must be understood: fissioning, activation and ionisation. Fissioning, i.e. the splitting of the uranium or plutonium atom, is responsible for producing radioactive fission fragments and activation products. These in turn cause the ionisation of normal atoms, leading to a chain of microscopic events we may eventually observe as a cancer death or a deformed child.”
Health effects are the central focus of EPA’s Radiation Protection Programs. Below is information that explains the topics that we consider as we prepare regulations and guidance on protective limits.
On this page:
- Radiation and health
- Effects of radiation type and exposure pathway
- Non-radiation health effects of radioactive materials
- Estimating health effects
Radiation and Health
How does radiation cause health effects?
Radioactive materials that decay spontaneously produce ionizing radiation, which has sufficient energy to strip away electrons from atoms (creating two charged ions) or to break some chemical bonds. Any living tissue in the human body can be damaged by ionizing radiation in a unique manner. The body attempts to repair the damage, but sometimes the damage is of a nature that cannot be repaired or it is too severe or widespread to be repaired. Also mistakes made in the natural repair process can lead to cancerous cells. The most common forms of ionizing radiation are alpha and beta particles, or gamma and X-rays.
What kinds of health effects does exposure to radiation cause?
In general, the amount and duration of radiation exposure affects the severity or type of health effect. There are two broad categories of health effects: stochastic and non-stochastic.
Stochastic Health Effects
Stochastic effects are associated with long-term, low-level (chronic) exposure to radiation. (“Stochastic” refers to the likelihood that something will happen.) Increased levels of exposure make these health effects more likely to occur, but do not influence the type or severity of the effect.
Cancer is considered by most people the primary health effect from radiation exposure. Simply put, cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells. Ordinarily, natural processes control the rate at which cells grow and replace themselves. They also control the body’s processes for repairing or replacing damaged tissue. Damage occurring at the cellular or molecular level, can disrupt the control processes, permitting the uncontrolled growth of cells cancer This is why ionizing radiation’s ability to break chemical bonds in atoms and molecules makes it such a potent carcinogen.
Other stochastic effects also occur. Radiation can cause changes in DNA, the “blueprints” that ensure cell repair and replacement produces a perfect copy of the original cell. Changes in DNA are called mutations.
Sometimes the body fails to repair these mutations or even creates mutations during repair. The mutations can be teratogenic or genetic. Teratogenic mutations are caused by exposure of the fetus in the uterus and affect only the individual who was exposed. Genetic mutations are passed on to offspring.
Non-Stochastic Health Effects
Non-stochastic effects appear in cases of exposure to high levels of radiation, and become more severe as the exposure increases. Short-term, high-level exposure is referred to as ‘acute’ exposure.
Many non-cancerous health effects of radiation are non-stochastic. Unlike cancer, health effects from ‘acute’ exposure to radiation usually appear quickly. Acute health effects include burns and radiation sickness. Radiation sickness is also called ‘radiation poisoning.’ It can cause premature aging or even death. If the dose is fatal, death usually occurs within two months. The symptoms of radiation sickness include: nausea, weakness, hair loss, skin burns or diminished organ function.
Medical patients receiving radiation treatments often experience acute effects, because they are receiving relatively high “bursts” of radiation during treatment.
Is any amount of radiation safe?
There is no firm basis for setting a “safe” level of exposure above background for stochastic effects. Many sources emit radiation that is well below natural background levels. This makes it extremely difficult to isolate its stochastic effects. In setting limits, EPA makes the conservative (cautious) assumption that any increase in radiation exposure is accompanied by an increased risk of stochastic effects.
Some scientists assert that low levels of radiation are beneficial to health (this idea is known as hormesis).
However, there do appear to be threshold exposures for the various non-stochastic effects. (Please note that the acute affects in the following table are cumulative. For example, a dose that produces damage to bone marrow will have produced changes in blood chemistry and be accompanied by nausea.)
|Health Effect||Time to Onset
|5-10||changes in blood chemistry|
|75||hair loss||2-3 weeks|
|400||possible death||within 2 months|
|1,000||destruction of intestinal lining|
|and death||1-2 weeks|
|2,000||damage to central nervous system|
|loss of consciousness;||minutes|
|and death||hours to days|
- Estimating Risk
This page describes how scientists estimate cancer and other health risks from radiation exposures.
How do we know radiation causes cancer?
Basically, we have learned through observation. When people first began working with radioactive materials, scientists didn’t understand radioactive decay, and reports of illness were scattered.
As the use of radioactive materials and reports of illness became more frequent, scientists began to notice patterns in the illnesses. People working with radioactive materials and x-rays developed particular types of uncommon medical conditions. For example, scientists recognized as early at 1910 that radiation caused skin cancer. Scientists began to keep track of the health effects, and soon set up careful scientific studies of groups of people who had been exposed.
Among the best known long-term studies are those of Japanese atomic bomb blast survivors, other populations exposed to nuclear testing fallout (for example, natives of the Marshall Islands), and uranium miners.
- Decay Chains: Uranium Miners
This page contains information on the risks of radon in mines to miners.
Aren’t children more sensitive to radiation than adults?
Yes, because children are growing more rapidly, there are more cells dividing and a greater opportunity for radiation to disrupt the process. EPA’s radiation protection standards take into account the differences in the sensitivity due to age and gender.
Fetuses are also highly sensitive to radiation. The resulting effects depend on which systems are developing at the time of exposure.
Effects of Radiation Type and Exposure Pathway
Both the type of radiation to which the person is exposed and the pathway by which they are exposed influence health effects. Different types of radiation vary in their ability to damage different kinds of tissue. Radiation and radiation emitters (radionuclides) can expose the whole body (direct exposure) or expose tissues inside the body when inhaled or ingested.
All kinds of ionizing radiation can cause cancer and other health effects. The main difference in the ability of alpha and beta particles and gamma and x-rays to cause health effects is the amount of energy they can deposit in a given space. Their energy determines how far they can penetrate into tissue. It also determines how much energy they are able to transmit directly or indirectly to tissues and the resulting damage.
Although an alpha particle and a gamma ray may have the same amount of energy, inside the body the alpha particle will deposit all of its energy in a very small volume of tissue. The gamma radiation will spread energy over a much larger volume. This occurs because alpha particles have a mass that carries the energy, while gamma rays do not.
Non-Radiation Health Effects of Radionuclides
Radioactive elements and compounds behave chemically exactly like their non-radioactive forms. For example, radioactive lead has the same chemical properties as non-radioactive lead. The public health protection question that EPA’s scientists must answer is, “How do we best manage all the hazards a pollutant presents?” (See Protecting Against Exposure)
Do chemical properties of radionuclides contribute to radiation health effects?
The chemical properties of a radionuclide can determine where health effects occur. To function properly many organs require certain elements. They cannot distinguish between radioactive and non-radioactive forms of the element and accumulate one as quickly as the other.
- Radioactive iodine concentrates in the thyroid. The thyroid needs iodine to function normally, and cannot tell the difference between stable and radioactive isotopes. As a result, radioactive iodine contributes to thyroid cancer more than other types of cancer.
- Calcium, strontium-90 and radium-226 have similar chemical properties. The result is that strontium and radium in the body tend to collect in calcium rich areas, such as bones and teeth. They contribute to bone cancer.
Estimating Health Effects
What is the cancer risk from radiation? How does it compare to the risk of cancer from other sources?
Each radionuclide represents a somewhat different health risk. However, health physicists currently estimate that overall, if each person in a group of 10,000 people exposed to 1 rem of ionizing radiation, in small doses over a life time, we would expect 5 or 6 more people to die of cancer than would otherwise.
In this group of 10,000 people, we can expect about 2,000 to die of cancer from all non-radiation causes. The accumulated exposure to 1 rem of radiation, would increase that number to about 2005 or 2006.
To give you an idea of the usual rate of exposure, most people receive about 3 tenths of a rem (300 mrem) every year from natural background sources of radiation (mostly radon).
What are the risks of other long-term health effects?
Other than cancer, the most prominent long-term health effects are teratogenic and genetic mutations.
Teratogenic mutations result from the exposure of fetuses (unborn children) to radiation. They can include smaller head or brain size, poorly formed eyes, abnormally slow growth, and mental retardation. Studies indicate that fetuses are most sensitive between about eight to fifteen weeks after conception. They remain somewhat less sensitive between six and twenty-five weeks old.
The relationship between dose and mental retardation is not known exactly. However, scientists estimate that if 1,000 fetuses that were between eight and fifteen weeks old were exposed to one rem, four fetuses would become mentally retarded. If the fetuses were between sixteen and twenty-five weeks old, it is estimated that one of them would be mentally retarded.
Genetic effects are those that can be passed from parent to child. Health physicists estimate that about fifty severe hereditary effects will occur in a group of one million live-born children whose parents were both exposed to one rem. About one hundred twenty severe hereditary effects would occur in all descendants.
In comparison, all other causes of genetic effects result in as many as 100,000 severe hereditary effects in one million live-born children. These genetic effects include those that occur spontaneously (“just happen”) as well as those that have non-radioactive causes.
Protecting Against Exposure
What limits does EPA set on exposure to radiation?
Health physicists generally agree on limiting a person’s exposure beyond background radiation to about 100 mrem per year from all sources. Exceptions are occupational, medical or accidental exposures. (Medical X-rays generally deliver less than 10 mrem). EPA and other regulatory agencies generally limit exposures from specific source to the public to levels well under 100 mrem. This is far below the exposure levels that cause acute health effects.
How does EPA protect against radionuclides that are also toxic?
In most cases, the radiation hazard is much greater than the chemical (toxic) hazard. Radiation protection limits are lower than the chemical hazard protection limits would be. By issuing radiation protection regulations, EPA can protect people from both the radiation and the chemical hazard. However, deciding which hazard is greater is not always straightforward. Several factors can tip the balance:
- toxicity of the radionuclide
- strength of the ionizing radiation
- how quickly the radionuclide emits radiation (half-life)
- relative abundance of the radioactive and non-radioactive forms
- Uranium-238 is both radioactive and very toxic. Its half-life of 4.5 billion years means that only a few atoms emit radiation at a time. A sample containing enough atoms to pose a radiation hazard contains enough atoms to pose a chemical hazard. As a result, EPA regulates uranium-238 as both a chemical and a radiation hazard.
- Radioactive isotopes of lead are both radioactive and toxic. In spite of the severe effects of lead on the brain and the nervous system, the radiation hazard is greater. However, the radioactive forms of lead are so uncommon that paint or other lead containing products do not contain enough radioactive lead to present a radiation hazard. As a result, EPA regulates lead as a chemical hazard.
Possible Health Effects of Radiation Exposure on Unborn Babies
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
This fact sheet was developed to help you understand the possible health effects to your unborn baby from exposure to radiation.
Monday, April 16, 2012
Washington, D.C. – After an onsite tour of what remains of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facilities decimated by last year’s earthquake and subsequent tsunami, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) a senior member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, sent a letter to Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki looking for ways to advance and support clean-up and recovery efforts. Wyden’s principal concern is the relocation of spent fuel rods currently being stored in unsound structures immediately adjacent to the ocean. He strongly urged the Ambassador to accept international help to prevent dangerous nuclear material from being released into the environment.
“The scope of damage to the plants and to the surrounding area was far beyond what I expected and the scope of the challenges to the utility owner, the government of Japan, and to the people of the region are daunting,” Wyden wrote in the letter. “The precarious status of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear units and the risk presented by the enormous inventory of radioactive materials and spent fuel in the event of further earthquake threats should be of concern to all and a focus of greater international support and assistance.”
Wyden visited Fukushima on April 6, 2012 while on a Congressional delegation trip to the region. He and a staff member wore radiation suits as they toured the facility and met with workers and managers from the Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO, which is responsible for the clean-up.
Wyden found that the facilities designed to house spent nuclear fuel and the reactors themselves were still in a state of disrepair and located in areas that would make them susceptible to further damage from future seismic events. The reactor buildings still contain large amounts of spent fuel – making them a huge safety risk and the only protection from a future tsunami, Wyden observed, is a small, makeshift sea wall erected out of bags of rock.
Wyden is also sending letters today to U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Greg Jaczko asking them to identify additional resources and assistance that their agencies could provide to Japan to address these risks.
Make Our Nuclear Material More Secure
Sign the Petition
Add your name to the petition to President Obama.
Dear President Obama:
Every year, our government spends billions of dollars to fight threats to our national security outside our borders. However, closer to home, we’re not paying enough attention to safeguarding the dangerous nuclear materials stored at federal facilities right here.
Consider what happened two summers ago in Oak Ridge, Tennessee: an 82-year-old nun and two fellow peace activists were able to infiltrate the supposed “Fort Knox of Uranium” and paint peace slogans on a building housing approximately 400 metric tons of highly enriched uranium, a bomb-grade nuclear material. This would never have happened had the security been up to the standards we should expect.
The Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge is one of several facilities in the United States that have significant quantities of bomb-grade uranium or plutonium. Unfortunately these facilities are spread across the country, often requiring this dangerous material to be transported on public highways. The functions performed at these facilities could be consolidated, reducing security risks and costs, but strong political influence and a culture of competition between the nuclear labs and facilities have kept the nuclear complex large and unwieldy.
We the undersigned urge you to consider a formal study to look into realigning or closing some nuclear labs and facilities in order to better secure these materials, whether it be from terrorists, a catastrophe such as a fire or earthquake, or even from nuns and peace activists.
Please make our communities more secure by consolidating nuclear materials into fewer facilities and by keeping the government’s commitment to downblend excess nuclear materials.
- High levels of radiation found at Fukushima, 460,000 Bq/L; Removing fuel in unit 1 storage pool to start 2017 — NHK World
***Note from Anna: Sometimes I rant, hence the origin of my blog name. So this is for all of the scientists, farmers, educators, politicians, parents, doctors, and advocate in the United States:
1. YOU CAN’T GROW ANYTHING WITH SEVERELY RADIOACTIVE WATER. 2017 is TOO LATE FOR A CLEANUP.
2. THERE ARE FIFTY-FIVE NUCLEAR REACTORS ON A SET OF ISLANDS THAT CAN FIT ENTIRELY WITHIN THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA. AN EARTHQUAKE SWARM WILL PUT JAPAN COMPLETELY UNDER WATER AND FILL THE WORLD WITH RADIOACTIVE CLOUDS.
3. THE MOX FUEL BEING RELEASE ***CANNOT*** BE CLEANED WITH CURRENT TECHNOLOGY. YOUR KIDS ARE GOING TO BE STERILE, YOUR CROPS ARE GOING TO DIE, AND THERE WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH DOCTORS WORLDWIDE TO TREAT ALL THE CANCER PATIENTS BECAUSE THE DOCTORS WILL HAVE CANCER TOO!!!
4. THE POLITICIANS IN BOTH COUNTRIES HAVE *DELIBERATELY* FAILED US. THEIR ACTIONS ARE ACTS OF MASS MURDER AND TREASON.
5. GENERAL ELECTRIC AND TEPCO ARE 100% CULPABLE AND NEED TO IMMEDIATE PAY FOR THE EVACUATION AND RELOCATION OF ALL JAPANESE CITIZENS TO SAFE HAVENS.
By 2015 you realize what everyone has been saying when the following things start to occur:
Widespread immune, neurological, and muscular disorders.
Soldiers from Japan being deactivated from service due to Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancers.
Mass heart attacks.
Mass outbreaks of cancer similar to what is currently happening in Malibu, California.
Widespread crops death including vegetables, fruits, wheat, hemp, and marijuana. You can’t grow organic medications if your crops are contaminated.
Inability to create medicine to handle the creation of new medicines because the researchers and scientists will also be getting sick and dying.
Outbreaks in crimes and cultural misunderstandings as sick people from Japan come seeking safe haven, which they should ABSOLUTELY get because AMERICA was complicit in poisoning them. if the situation was reversed American citizens would want, and demand, the same kind of help.
Budgetary crashes resulting in lack of FEMA or police resources.
You’ve been warned. DO SOMETHING!
Prescription Drug Abuse
Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic in Washington state. There are more deaths annually from prescription drug abuse than from meth, cocaine, and heroin combined.
What’s causing this epidemic? Drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin, and Methadone are now commonly prescribed for pain. Painkillers offer relief to millions of Americans but present a hidden danger.
These kinds of prescription drugs are called “opiates.” The American Heritage Dictionary defines “opiate” as a sedative narcotic, “[C]ontaining opium or one or more of its natural or synthetic derivatives.” In a way, these drugs are the cousins of a better known—and more feared— drug: heroin. But unlike heroin, most people don’t know how potentially addicting and dangerous prescription opiates can be.
Some recreational users crush prescription painkillers and then ingest them in order to bypass the time-release function of the medications. This provides a somewhat immediate, and sometimes deadly, high.
When overdosed, prescription painkillers can cause a significant decrease in lung function and death. They can also be lethal when they’re combined with other prescribed or over-the-counter drugs. High-profile deaths include actor Heath Ledger, who died from a lethal combination of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine.
Teenagers are increasingly experimenting with drugs commonly found in their parents’ medicine cabinets. According to the Healthy Youth Survey, 12 percent of 12th graders used prescription pain medications to get high in the past 30 days. The same survey also shows that an alarming number of younger kids experiment with these drugs. That’s why it’s critical to learn how to properly safeguard and dispose of your medications.
The Office of National Drug Control Policy reports that more than 47 percent of teens get prescription drugs from their friends for free. About 10 percent buy them from their friends, and another 10 percent take them from friends without asking.
What the AGO is doing about prescription drug abuse in Washington State
The Attorney General’s Office uses funds from consumer protection settlements with drug manufacturers—including the makers of OxyContin— to provide grants to promote drug abuse prevention and prescription drug safety. To date those grants have totaled more than $2.7 million and include:
- $1,000,000 dollars to fund the Washington Prevention Summits and Spring Youth Forums, where kids learn to use the latest technology to create prevention programs in their schools.
- $683,000 to the State Department of Health to create a prescription drug monitoring program to prevent the “doctor shopping” that allows addicts to get access to dangerous drugs.
- $400,000 for the University of Washington to educate doctors on drug marketing. The funding is a portion of the $9 million awarded in grants nationwide from a settlement with Neurontin.
- $30,000 to The Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Network to develop the Unwanted Medicine Return Program. This program promotes drug safety and a cleaner enviornment by promoting the safe disposal of unwanted medications.
- $15,000 for Prescriptions for Life, a local nonprofit organization working to eliminate prescription drug abuse. The money will help pay for a new educational video that will be shown to students, teachers, school counselors, law enforcement, medical professionals and civic and business leaders.
- $400,000 for the Washington Health Foundation launch a program to reduce prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse among college students, creating one of the first programs in the nation to target young adults between the ages of 18 to 24 (more below).
What the AGO is doing about prescription drug abuse in Tribal Communities
According to DOH, American Indians and Alaska Natives are hardest-hit by prescription drug abuse.
The AGO has addressed this issue by targeting a series of grants for programs that address substance abuse prevention programs in tribal communities:
- $101,700 for the Boys & Girls Club of America to establish two new clubhouses on Native American lands by 2011, targeting ages 7-18. The two anticipated newly established clubs on reservation lands should see an enrollment per club in excess of 700 youth. Boys & Girls Club substance abuse programs include SMART (Skills, Mastery And Resistance Training) Moves.
- $198,550 to the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board to provide four “mini-grants” of $30,000 each to tribal partners for community based projects to fight prescription drug abuse, and to fund a one-day regional training conference on prescription abuse among tribal members.
- $25,250 to Evergreen Council on Problem Gambling to help pay for a 6-day youth camp called New Directions: Tribal Youth Music Academy for Addiction Awareness & Prevention.
Prescription drug abuse on campus
The Attorney General’s Office has partnered with the Washington Health Foundation, the Pharmaceutical Research Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and other national organizations to provide an online health community and a set of resources to help college kids confront the prescription drug epidemic.
The Washington Health Foundation asks college students to be part a part of the solution – to help address prescription and over-the-counter drug misuse and abuse. Learn more on The Washington Health Foundation’s Web site. There, you can tell your story, share your ideas, explore innovative resources, and participate in social media discussions.
Good morning readers,
Very rarely do I add stories about my personal life to this blog as it is generally for the purpose ranting and sharing knowledge but I want you to ponder these two statements today in relation to the Ebola virus:
These are genuine, in-chart statements made to me by a University of Washington Medical doctor on March 17, 2014:
“…She is significantly concerned about many of her problems but does not want to follow some medical advice. Is using a significant amount of THC and marijuana. Discussed this may be causing some of her problems.
Stated that there was significant evidence and the place she does have some rigorous standards and quality. I discussed with the patient that this was not likely. “
I got so upset that I filed a complaint with the University of Washington and the Washington State Department of Health that same week. The complaint with U of W is ongoing and will be completed hopefully in November 2014.Due to his dismissal of my symptoms five other doctors (Three of those doctors were from Highline Medical Center under advisement of U of W Medical Center) refused to provide needed surgery (a surgery already approved by Kaiser Permanente staff from three different hospitals in California in 2011) and I had to leave the state to continue medical treatment.
The Washington State Department of Health dismissed my complaint outright.
My mother and grandmother were nurses in big-city and low-income areas. This is one thing that is true: poor and afraid people who are sick will not come into an emergency room until it is absolutely necessary. Very often people wait until long after symptoms have become infectious,communicable, and airborne to visit the hospital fearing income loss. Poor people lack private cars so disease transmission will be airborne,rapid, and on various methods of public transit.
Rich or poor, everyone still has travel to, and sit in, a crowded waiting room with many very sick patients in order to receive any form of medical treatment.
Now I’d like to ask my readers this question: do you think you, your kids, and your elders are going to be safe this holiday season with this kind of mentality being spread about medical marijuana?
UW Medicine Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/UWMedicine
Central Washington University Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/CentralWashU
Information about University of Washington Medical Center/Washington State Liquor Control Board/I-502 funding:
Washington State DOH FACT SHEET FOR I-502 Implementation
“In December, 2013, DOH dedicated program funding to hire one full time staff, to provide
marijuana education and manage I-502 implementation. At this time, DOH is working collaboratively with a number of the listed “key stakeholders” to identify and leverage current resources to meet the mandates of I-502.
One example of this collaboration is with the Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR), and the use of their existing state Recovery Helpline (at no cost to DOH), as the identified marijuana resource and referral line.
Once funding emerges, DOH will evaluate its effectiveness and develop a public health hotline specific to marijuana callers, if needed.
2014 2015 State Budget Tobacco and Marijuana Proviso: $1.5 million One time funding is provided for tobacco, marijuana, and e- cigarette prevention activities aimed at youth and populations with a high incidence of smoking. For activities aimed at youth, the Department of Health (DOH)must partner with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction(OSPI) to fund effective tobacco, marijuana, and e –cigarette prevention programs at middle and
For activities aimed at populations with a high incidence of smoking, the DOH
must contract with community based organizations that serve populations that have a high
incidence of smoking tobacco, marijuana, or e-cigarettes.
Future biennia funding of tobacco an e- cigarette prevention programs will be based on the Washington State Institute of Public Policy report on prevention activities due December 31, 2014″
“The Office of Management and Budget released its grant reform regulations called the Uniform Grant Guidance (Omni-Circular). This guidance relates to administrative requirements, cost principles and audit requirements for federal awards.
…Environmental Health & Safety is a UW administrative department that is responsible for addressing environmental issues in order to provide a safe educational and work place on campus.”
Seattle Times staff reporter October 27, 2012:
“…At a recent I-502 debate at the University of Washington, medical-marijuana entrepreneur Steve Sarich warned students they could be arrested for a DUI a week after smoking a joint. “There goes your Pell Grant, there goes your college,” said Sarich, who is organizing opposition to I-502.
His prediction distorts a majority of research, which finds active THC dissipates in casual users within hours.
But it can linger in frequent users, such as medical-marijuana patients. One study of such users — smoking up to 10 big joints a day — found active THC in their blood even after six days of abstinence.
I-502 makes no exemption for heavy users, including chronic pain patients.
Alison Holcomb, campaign manager for the initiative, is sympathetic to them, but said a DUI law should not be dictated by relatively rare cases. “We don’t establish public policy based on outliers,” she said.
University of Washington School of Medicine:
“Established in 1946, the School of Medicine is the only medical school directly serving the states of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho (WWAMI). Located in the Warren G. Magnuson Health Sciences Center, the School operates a decentralized program of medical education (WWAMI) via a regional network of teaching affiliates.
The School’s basic-science departments provide educational opportunities for students from all schools and colleges within the University. Clinical teaching programs are conducted at the University of Washington Medical Center, Harborview Medical Center, Seattle Children’s hospital, Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, Valley Medical Center, and the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Healthcare System, as well as at other clinical affiliates in Seattle and throughout the WWAMI states.”
December 4, 2012 Linda Schactler, (Executive Director, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1384) announced:
“…Although Washington law soon will remove state criminal and civil penalties for some use and possession of marijuana, CWU policy prohibits its use, possession, and distribution. University policy states, “Possession, use, or distribution of any controlled substance as defined by the laws of the United States or the State of Washington except as expressly permitted by law.” The federal Controlled Substances Act lists marijuana among Schedule 1 substances, the use and distribution of which are prohibited by federal law.
Under the federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, as a condition of receiving federal funds, universities must certify the adoption and implementation of programs to prevent the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by students and employees.
CWU would place at risk more than $93 million in federal funding if the university disregarded federal law and allowed the use of marijuana in university facilities, according to Dr. Sarah Swager, Dean of Student Success.
Uploaded on Aug 21, 2011
This is by far the best collection of educational material I have ever seen and I Highly recommend everyone here to really take/give your time and Look at it and bring all your Family / Classmates / Colleagues and friends together and educate your selves about the Most important thing on Earth
Japan warns of increased activity at volcano near nuclear plant — Reuters
Originally posted on Japan Safety : Nuclear Energy Updates:
” (Reuters) – Japan warned on Friday that a volcano in southern Japan located roughly 64 km (40 miles) from a nuclear plant was showing signs of increased activity that could possibly lead to a small-scale eruption and warned people to stay away from the summit.
The warning comes nearly a month after another volcano, Mt Ontake, erupted suddenly when crowded with hikers, killing 57 people in Japan’s worst volcanic disaster in nearly 90 years.
Ioyama, a mountain on the southwestern island of Kyushu, has been shaken by small tremors and other signs of rising volcanic activity recently, including a tremor lasting as long as seven minutes, an official at the Japan Meteorological Agency’s volcano division said.
“There is an increase in activity that under certain circumstances could even lead to a small scale eruption, but it is not in danger of an imminent, major eruption,” the official said.
View original 262 more words
The importance of having those conversations about cannabis
Originally posted on Cannabis Patients Alliance:
2011 was a life-changing year for my husband and me. After he got laid off from his job, we decided to put most of our worldly belongings into storage and take off with our 4 dogs in our 22-foot motorhome. Aside from camping and hiking, we spent most of 8 months traveling around Colorado talking to people about marijuana. We talked to patients, dispensary workers, growers, and just average citizens. We wanted to get a feel for what the state, outside of Denver, thought about medical marijuana in Colorado.
I have a lot of conversations with a lot of people, usually about marijuana. People are so curious. I never really know what impact these conversations have. I just try to open people’s minds to new possibilities.
The other day I got a surprising message from someone I met…
View original 408 more words
The Jurist Wednesday 22 October 2014
JURIST- The Arizona Court of Appeals [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Tuesday that the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) [text] does not protect legal medical marijuana users from being charged with driving under the influence (DUI). The court reviewed the appeal submitted by Travis Darrah, a legal medical marijuana license holder, and decided the Arizona Revised Statutes allowed the court to charge Darrah with a DUI based on the presence of THC in his blood irrespective of the AMMA exception [text]. Judge Kent Cattani, in a concurring opinion, upheld the finding in this specific case because the appellant failed to provide evidence that he was unimpaired by his legal medical marijuana use, but stated that the AMMA does provide medical marijuana users a valid defense to a DUI charge:
The Arizona Supreme Court thus did not squarely address the carve-out exception for authorized users under § 36-2802(D). Under this carve-out exception, in my view, an authorized user cannot be convicted under § 28-1381(A)(3) if he or she establishes that the amount of THC or marijuana metabolite in the blood was in insufficient concentration to cause impairment.
The majority opinion relied on precedent and did not consider the language of the AMMA exception to bar Darrah’s conviction.
Evolving public sentiment against marijuana criminalization and its medical use [JURIST backgrounder] has led to more legal support [MPP website] in the US in recent months. In July US Representative Scott Perry (R-PA) [official website] introduced a bill [JURIST report] to legalize cannabidiol (CBD) oil, or marijuana extract, which has been shown to treat seizures in children suffering from epilepsy. Also in July New York Governor Andrew Cuomo [official website] signed [JURIST report] the Compassionate Care Act into law, making New York the twenty-third state to legalize medical marijuana.
Note from Anna: Arizona MMJ info and Twitter link. Check in with them from your state.
(Reporting by John Tilak in Toronto and Brett Wolf of the Compliance Complete service of Thomson Reuters Accelus in St. Louis; Additional reporting by David Randall in New York; Editing by Amran Abocar, Douglas Royalty and Marguerita Choy)
(Reuters) – U.S. investors in Canada’s medical marijuana industry are betting they will not fall under the scrutiny of U.S. law enforcement officers – but it is a risky bet.
With marijuana still illegal on a federal level in the United States, American investors in Canadian medical marijuana can be seen as violating the Controlled Substances Act, according to some U.S experts. And the use of the banking system to transfer the proceeds of such investments could be seen as money laundering.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has already been tracking investments made in state-sanctioned marijuana business in the United States. When asked by Reuters about the DEA’s view of U.S. investments in Canadian marijuana, DEA spokesman Rusty Payne said the agency is “most interested in those types of activities.”
After the Reuters report, shares in Canadian medical marijuana companies fell sharply at the open before recovering some ground. OrganiGram Holdings Inc (OGI.V) dropped 6.9 percent in early trading, Bedrocan Cannabis Corp (BED.V) fell 4.2 percent and Tweed Marijuana Inc (TWD.V) declined 2.8 percent.
U.S. investors have been increasingly drawn to the raft of public listings by producers that has sprung up since Canada overhauled its laws this year, making it legal to buy marijuana from licensed producers with a doctor’s prescription.
Canada’s medical marijuana market, which is expected to grow more than tenfold, to C$1.3 billion, in a decade, has matured more rapidly than its peers. While U.S. investors have several European markets where medical marijuana is legal on their radar – Canada has been the biggest beneficiary of fund flows from U.S. investors.
“We really like the Canada model, which is really unlike any other in the world,” said Christian Groh, a co-founder of Seattle-based private equity firm Privateer Holdings, one of the largest players in the medical marijuana sector. “What we’re doing here does not violate local, state and federal law (in Canada).”
Privateer created a Canadian subsidiary as its foothold in the market. Other investors, however, have jumped straight in from their U.S. bases.
Timothy White, national risk specialist for Banker’s Toolbox Inc, a firm that helps banks detect and report money laundering, said U.S. investors in Canadian marijuana firms could be violating drug trafficking and money laundering laws.
“That is two violations of U.S. federal law. I don’t see there is any way around that,” White said.
A former DEA official who asked not to be named said that “at best,” the investments are “an extremely reckless thing to do.” Investors could face money laundering charges and any return on investment “would have the taint of drug proceeds,” the former official said.
“If they sought legal advice on this, they were grossly underserved,” the former official said.
There have been no prosecutions by U.S. authorities of investors in Canada, according to legal experts who have been closely following the market.
Payne, the DEA spokesman, said the U.S. agency has “limited investigatory resources” to pursue investors and is most interested in targeting those with deep pockets who pour large sums into the industry.
It is a risk many U.S. investors, eyeing healthy returns, are willing to take. They are counting on shifting attitudes toward marijuana in the United States, and they see scant chances of prosecution under the Obama administration.
“There are so many companies investing in the Canadian side, and this (money-laundering risk) is just not something that is coming up as an issue,” said one U.S. investor in the Canadian medical marijuana market who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“You can invest in pharmaceutical companies (whose drugs are not approved) in the United States. This is just another medicine.”
Canadian producer OrganiGram has nearly doubled in value since listing on Aug. 25. Meanwhile, Bedrocan was the second-most actively traded stock on the TSX venture exchange on its market debut on the same day.
Roughly 30 percent of OrganiGram’s shares are held by U.S. investors. Other producers also reported high levels of U.S. investment in their shares and capital raising.
Toronto-based PharmaCan Capital, one of the most active investors in the Canadian market and likely to go public itself, said it raised about 35 percent of its capital outside Canada.
So far, only relatively small U.S. investors have been active in Canada’s marijuana sector. Deep-pocketed institutional investors in the United States are yet to be swayed, partly because of the legal risks and because the investments available are generally too small to interest them. Then there is the stigma associated with the industry.
Canadian and U.S. investors also have to grapple with the risk of betting in a nascent, unproven market that is still finding its way. Securities regulators on both sides of the border have warned investors to stay clear of speculators.
“The larger institutions have a lot to lose and face a lot of scrutiny because of everything else they do,” said Brian Vicente, a partner at Vicente Sederberg in Denver. “They are not interested in taking that risk at this moment, and that opens up space and opportunities for smaller firms.”
Hopes that more U.S. states will follow the lead of Washington and Colorado and approve ballot initiatives that make marijuana legal for adult use have boosted the ranks of investors looking at early stage marijuana-related companies. Twenty-three U.S. states have legalized medical marijuana.
“Some investors look at this and think, ‘I’m getting in on the ground floor. I’m going to be part of the next Facebook of marijuana, and timing is everything. … I can buy in low and eventually sell super-high when legalization hits,’ ” said Hilary Bricken, a lawyer at Seattle-based Harris Moure. “That day may never come.”
***Note from Anna: These are the strain carried by OrganiGram Holdings Inc . Recognize them?
Company leadership info here:
Bedrocan Cannabis Corp info:
Bedrocan Research collaborations:
Tweed Marijuana Inc. info: