Bo points out that people exposed to radiation, when relocated due to contamination of their home town, often experience discrimination in their new homes and become socially isolated.
Bo’s comments about the discrimination often experienced by people exposed to radiation are spot on. It can be hard for the radiation-exposed to find work–potential employers don’t want to hire those who may be unable to consistently put in a full day’s work or who may have to take sick days.
People exposed to radiation may also become social outcasts in their own society. This has been the experience of the Hibakusha in Japan, where people exposed to radiation from detonation of atomic weapons over Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been shunned as marriage mates due to worry over genetic damage in any future offspring. Ostracism may result as well in bullying.
Medically Studied but Not Helped
Bo noted that many radiation-exposed communities have become the subject of medical studies, without any actual medical help being provided to those examined. These studies may contribute to the data on human exposure to radiation, but offer no help to those in need.
Few facts of post-exposure injustice make me angrier. The awful irony: victims in desperate need of medical help being used as medical guinea pigs while their own needs go unaddressed.
This situation happened to the Hanford Downwinders. We have been studied yet offered no medical help for the radiogenic disease and disability which impacts our lives.
Nothing to Worry About
Another hidden life-destroyer Bo brings to light is anxiety. Anxiety & stress are killers, and few things in life are more anxiety-provoking than being exposed to radiation. Unless, of course, you include being exposed to radiation and then having your fears dismissed by the very authorities you turn to for help.
Hanford Downwinders have been told countless times that we have “nothing to worry about” following massive releases of radiation downwind. Inconclusive studies like the 1999 Hanford Thyroid Disease Study have not provided answers to why so many of us are ill. The connection between the many radionuclides released from Hanford, other than radioiodine, and the diseases Downwinders now suffer, have not been studied.
Yes. We are Invisible.
Bo concludes that radiation makes people invisible. I have experienced this firsthand. As my family developed cancers and other radiogenic disease, I was told by officials that I should not worry, that Hanford had caused no harm to me or my family or to people like us.
We had become invisible.