Saturday, January 30, 2016

Is Japanese Cedar Pollen Radioactivity Amplifying Allergan's Effect on Skin Damage?

The Mainichi is reporting that allergans from cedar pollen cause skin damage and is urging people to wash off pollen from their skin:

Japanese cedar pollen causes damage to skin: research team, The Mainichi, January 23, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)

Pollen from the Cryptomeria japonica (Japanese cedar) tree lowers the skin's barrier function by causing evaporation of moisture and inhibiting oil secretions, researchers said.

The findings, which were reported by a joint research group affiliated with the Shiseido Life Science Research Center and the Japan Science and Technology Agency, among other institutions, make it clear that Japanese cedar pollen not only affects the eyes and nose, but is also part of a mechanism causing skin damage....

..."Even individuals with healthy skin experience lower skin barrier functioning from stress and other causes," noted Shiseido Life Science Research Center chief researcher Mitsuhiro Denda.

He added, "If (the Cryj1) protein gets into the skin and decreases the skin barrier function even further, it is possible that a negative spiral could be unleashed, whereby inflammation worsens, itchiness increases, scratching ensues, and the inflammation then becomes chronic."

"Pollen that has made its way onto the skin should be washed off as soon as possible," Denda says. He also points toward the "importance of protecting the skin through a regimen of care."

One wonders when reading the excerpt from above what the other causes are that might increase the ordinary damage from the pollen antigen.

When considering this question, I recalled previous stories and scientific reports indicating that pollen from Japanese cedars contained relatively high amounts of radionuclides from Fukushima:

Akio Akama, Yoshiyuki Kiyono1, Tatsuo Kanazashi1, Koji Shichi (2013) Survey of radioactive contamination of sugi (Cryptomeria japonica D. Don) shoots and male flowers in Fukushima prefecture Japanese Journal for Environment 55 (2), 105-111, 2013,

The Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident in March 2011 contaminated wide areas of eastern Japan with radioactive fallout, especially Fukushima prefecture. Approximately 70% of the land area of Fukushima prefecture is covered by forest, primarily sugi (Cryptomeria japonica D. Don) timber plantations… (p. 105) 
…male sugi flowers develop near the tip of branches, and both male flowers and young shoots would likely accumulate radiocesium translocated within sugi trees. Furthermore, continuous absorption of radiocesium from soil would cause the radioactivity of wood to increase.These characteristics of sugi suggest that sugi pollen dispersal might accelerate the diffusion of radiocesium from forests to suburbs. Therefore, in this study, we surveyed radiocesium concentrations in male flowers and shoots in sugi over a wide area of Fukushima prefecture, and clarified the state of radioactive contamination of sugi trees directly after the accident. (p. 106).

We collected male sugi flowers from 131 sugi plantations in Fukushima prefecture in November or December 2011, and we collected male flowers and shoots from 24 of these 131 sugi plantations in November or December 2012. The 24 plantations were selected in 2012 to cover the entire range of air dose rate variation in 131 plantations with almost regular intervals. The radioactive contamination caused by the accident in March 2011 was so heavy that effects of atmospheric nuclear tests or Chernobyl accident were negligible in this study.

Radiocesium deposition (i.e., the total activity in the organic layer and surface soil (0-5 cm)) was highly correlated with the air dose rate in 2011 (Fig. 1). The concentration of radiocesium in male flowers in 2011 was also correlated to the air dose rate, measured at 1 m above ground, and their relationship could be approximated by a logarithmic linear equation. The measured concentration ranged between < 0.1 kBq kg-1 and 260 kBq kg-1 (Fig. 2)…. The radiocesium in the soil (0-5 cm) of this plantation, however, was over ten times the amount of the radiocesium in the organic layer on the forest floor…

And another study came to the same conclusion:
Kanasashi T1, Sugiura Y2, Takenaka C2, Hijii N2, Umemura M Radiocesium distribution in sugi (Cryptomeria japonica) in eastern Japan: translocation from needles to pollen. J Environ Radioact. 2015 Jan;139:398-406. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2014.06.018. Epub 2014 Jul 16.

We assessed the radiocesium contamination of sugi (Cryptomeria japonica) forests in eastern Japan from November 2012 to February 2013, including 80 sites in Fukushima and 35 sites in other regions (Tohoku and Kanto-Koshinetsu), by measuring the (137)Cs concentrations in needles of different ages, male flowers, and pollen. Over a wide geographic area, needles that were present at the time of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident contained much higher (137)Cs concentrations than needles that emerged after the accident. This result, together with visual analysis of (137)Cs distribution using autoradiography, indicated that some of the (137)Cs derived from direct fallout remained on the surface of the older needles. Since we also detected (137)Cs in younger needles and male flowers, we concluded that (137)Cs was translocated toward the tips of sugi needles. The (137)Cs concentration in male flowers was higher than and positively correlated with that in the currently growing (2012) needles. Also, a positive relationship was observed between the (137)Cs concentration of male flowers and pollen, and they were found to be nearly identical (137)Cs concentration. These results indicate the occurrence of acropetal translocation of (137)Cs from old needles to young needles, male flowers and pollen. However, the results as related to (137)Cs concentration in the needles of three different ages differed from the results of similar studies conducted more than 4 y after the Chernobyl accident. This suggests that, 2 y after the Fukushima Dai-ichi NPP accident, the distribution of (137)Cs in the sugi forests has not yet reached a steady state.

Might radioactivity in Japan's pollen be amplifying its potential to cause skin and other types of cellular damage?

Friday, January 29, 2016

Japan Re-Starts 2nd Nuclear Complex and Aims to Re-Start MOX Fueled Reactor in February

Japan restarts 2nd nuclear complex under tighter post-Fukushima rules, The Mainichi, January 29, 2016
Kansai Electric Power Co. said it reactivated the No. 3 reactor at its Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture... Kansai Electric aims to resume the No. 4 reactor in late February also using MOX fuel in a so-called "pluthermal" project. 

Radioactive Snow

(Look especially at the top right hand corner of the building on your left)

The shrub in the image below is red from the reflection of the traffic light. Daiichi is on the horizon. I found the image metaphoric: