Thank you, 1950′s movies. For completely distorting the view on radiation.
Yes, the plants up in Fukushima are leaking radiation. No, it isn’t coming down south and messing with us. There is a guy in Hino (in Tokyo) that is running a Geiger Counter and posting updates every ten minutes on line. Earlier today it peaked at around 70 or so CPM, and the normal daily radiation level is around 10-20 CPM. Now then, let’s put this into perspective.
100 CPM is about one microsieverts (μSv) an hour (if I can maths, and if I understand this correctly). A thousand μSv is a millisievert (mSv), and a thousand of those is a sievert (Sv). Ok. So, one day of living at 20 CPM of background radiation is equivalent to 5 μSv (0.005 mSv). A year then, is just under 2 mSv. Eating a banana, which I just did, is equivalent to .1 μSv (0.0001 mSv), or about half an hour just sittin around the house doing nothing (20 CPM = .2 μSv). According to stuff, a typical average year’s exposure to background radiation (what we’re measuring in Hino) is around 2.4 mSv, and your typical American gets about 3.6 mSv. (You’ll notice that my calculation puts a year’s worth in Hino at just under 2 mSv, while the average around the world is 2.4 and America 3.6 mSv. Even if my calculations are completely off, we can just run with someone’s who aren’t, and just use America’s 3.6 mSv from now on)
How much radiation in the body is required before being diagnosed with radiation sickness? Well, according to other stuff, it takes about 250 mSv until you get nausea and some systems damage to your body.
I will type that again, in case you didn’t catch it- 250 mSv before you get nausea and some systems damage to your body.
If you were exposed to 3.6 mSv a year, it would take 69 years of constant exposure before becoming slightly irradiated (and nauseous). There are many other things that can add to this, and lots of things we do in our daily lives (such as eating and undergoing cellular mitosis) which combats radiation- which is obvious as everyone you know who is old isn’t getting treated for radiation sickness.
Now then, I’m not arguing that you can go walk up to a nuclear reactor and jump in for swim. That would be foolish. There have already been some treated in Fukushima for radiation sickness, but that is because Fukushima’s reactors are putting out a lot more radiation than that which is naturally in the background. The highest amount of radiation recorded at Fukushima was relatively high, but it was recorded at a reactor site (like, in or standing next to reactor). It was still 10 times less than the lowest you could have possibly gotten from Chernobyl’s explodey time.
The highest amount of radiation recorded at the Gate, you know, entrance area, of Fukushima? 11 mSv. 11 mSv. That’s 3 years in America. That’s less than one gastro-intestinal Xray. Less than smoking 30 cigarettes a year. Sure, it’s not one year, it got to 11 mSv within 30 or so minutes, but that was the highest it got, briefly this morning, during a failure at the plant (more specifically, a fire). It has since dropped off consderably. And, it’s not like school children were playing soccer at the gate of a nuclear reactor which recently suffered a spate of explosions.
So- Narita is 150 plus miles south of Fukushima. The radiation would have to travel by air to get there before it could start disrupting things. Obviously, when the reactors started going nuts, the geiger counter in Hino did detect it, but the amount was negligible, despite the plant shooting out radiation for over 30 minutes. You know Three Mile Island, right? You know what is well within 150 miles of that place? Baltimore.
So you know what? If you live in Tokyo, Chiba, south of Japan, north of Japan, you aren’t going to turn into a goo monster. If you live in Fukushima, then you’re at a higher risk of cancer, but you’re already being moved away to not get that risk. If, of course, there are other explosions or complications at Fukushima and things get worse, well then, things get worse and we might turn into goo monsters, but I highly doubt it. There is a very good reason why Chernobyl is a 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale, and Fukushima is only a 3 (hell, Three Mile Island is a 5).
Eyes will not melt, skin will not explode. Yes, it is a catastrophe, but it is not going to create Godzilla.
Copy the link to this page and send it to everyone you know who thinks we’re all radiated zombies.