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Japan's nuclear crisis: 6 reasons why we should – and shouldn't – worry

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5. Psychological impacts probably most widespread

There may be several people who die or who are severely sickened by this accident – though that should of course be placed in the context of the more than 10,000 that are feared dead as a result of the quake and tsunami themselves. But the broader impact is likely to be psychological – from the stress and fear that tens or hundreds of thousands of people are suffering.

I would argue that the biggest health impacts of Chernobyl, despite the substantial radiation doses that some people received, were the stress, depression, and alcoholism that followed. The average person’s great fear of radiation can have real health consequences.

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