The 2011 Japanese earthquake: An overview of environmental health impacts

Dhitinut Ratnapradipa, James Conder, Ami Ruffing, Victor White

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


A magnitude 9.0 earthquake rupturing the Earth's crust nearly 130 km off the east coast of Japan on March 11, 2011, triggered a tsunami that reached the Japanese coast approximately 30 minutes later. The combined effects of the earthquake and tsunami (known as the Tohoku event) devastated the area of northeast Japan, resulting in widespread infrastructure destruction, loss of life, and environmental contamination. Perhaps the longest-lasting impact of the Tohoku event will result from the damage to the nuclear power plants along the coast and the subsequent release of radioactive elements into the environment. This article describes the environmental impacts of the disaster and highlights the interconnectedness among the core areas of environmental health including air quality, water quality, weather/climate change, food safety, healthy housing, waste/sanitation, infectious disease/vector control, radiation, injury prevention, emergency preparedness, and toxicology. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the spectrum of the natural disaster and its environmental health impact to the human population. Future scientific analysis may confirm or challenge the information presented here.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-50
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of environmental health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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