Global Health Impacts of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident

Monday, October 1, 2012
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
CISAC Conference Room
  • Mark Jacobson

This study quantifies worldwide health effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident on 11 March 2011. Effects are quantified with a 3-D global atmospheric model driven by emission estimates and evaluated against daily worldwide Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) measurements and observed deposition rates. Inhalation exposure, ground-level external exposure, and atmospheric external exposure pathways of radioactive iodine-131, cesium-137, and cesium-134 released from Fukushima are accounted for using a linear no-threshold (LNT) model of human exposure. Exposure due to ingestion of contaminated food and water is estimated by extrapolation. We estimate an additional 130 (15–1100) cancer-related mortalities and 180 (24–1800) cancer-related morbidities incorporating uncertainties associated with the exposure–dose and dose–response models used in the study. Sensitivities to emission rates, gas to particulate I-131 partitioning, and the mandatory evacuation radius around the plant may increase upper bound mortalities and morbidities to 1300 and 2500, respectively. Radiation exposure to workers at the plant is projected to result in 2 to 12 morbidities. An additional 600 mortalities have been reported due to mandatory evacuations. A hypothetical accident at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant in California, USA with identical emissions to Fukushima may cause 25% more mortalities than Fukushima despite California having one fourth the local population density, due to differing meteorological conditions.

Mark Z. Jacobson is Director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. He is also a Senior Fellow of the Woods Institute for the Environment and Senior Fellow of the Precourt Institute for Energy. He received a B.S. in Civil Engineering with distinction, an A.B. in Economics with distinction, and an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from Stanford University, in 1988. He received an M.S. in Atmospheric Sciences in 1991 and a PhD in Atmospheric Sciences in 1994 from UCLA. He has been on the faculty at Stanford since 1994. His work relates to the development and application of numerical models to understand better the effects of energy systems and vehicles on climate and air pollution and the analysis of renewable energy resources. He has published two textbooks of two editions each and ~130 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles. He received the 2005 American Meteorological Society Henry G. Houghton Award for “significant contributions to modeling aerosol chemistry and to understanding the role of soot and other carbon particles on climate.” He has served on the Energy Efficiency and Renewables Advisory Committee to the U.S. Secretary of Energy.