Radiation: A Discussion

Radiation is an amazing thing. We see fireflies glow and we know that clocks used pale green radium paint so you could know what time it was in the dark. How are these waves measured? This is where it gets complicated, and with the current crisis in Fukushima, no wonder there is concern.

I'd like to hear from readers, what do we actually know about Siverts and gray. These are units that make no sense to me or most ordinary people. I konw what a meter is, and if you tell me the distance in yards, I'd be shaking my head. I am not being silly here, but clearly, the radiation from Fukushima is nowhere near dangerous. If you think it is, please evacuate, but you are probably just going to be exposed to more radiation in your jumbo jet flight, than if you stayed in Tokyo, Japan.

Having said that, of course I am worried about nuclear reactors. We should all be. But we have not been educated to deal with this, and do not know what it means. That is what I consider very serious. Since the mid 1960s, these power plants were built, thanks to politicians we all helped elect (or our parents did). Can't blame anyone else, and come on, we did know they were dangerous. We just loved the bright lights and the comfort. Now we know better: they are very dangerous.

Yet, no matter how I interpret the data, there are no terribly high levels of irradiation, at least not today, a week after the big earthquake and the the tsunami. It looks terrible, yes, and by design, the Fukushima reactors will kill people who are there, trying to avoid disaster. But most of us are safe, probably everyone, yet the "fear" is what makes the Yen go to 76 to the Dollar, and countries urging their citizens to leave. What is this "fear" if not ignorance. Do you think a similar nuclear accident cannot happen in the U.S. or in France, or in Britain? What makes you feel more safe in Sweden (a country that has more nuclear power per capita than Japan)?

Do not let media define what is safe, you have better tools to deal with all the information. If you do not know about nuclear power, and its risks, this is a good time to start your education. Be careful about where you get your information from. But do study, as human beings, that seems to be a task we can always do. And meditate, and pray, if that is your thing. Donate to charities you trust, and do not reply to strange emails. If you are a Highly Sensitive Person, this is a unique time to take care, and make notes, write poems, stay sane. You know what to avoid.

As for radiation, we are talking radiation emissions rising from 3,700 microsieverts per hour to 4,000 per hour, today.

It seems we are talking about very abstract numbers. I would like to hear some comments and a discussion about this. For more details, wikipedia offers updates on the Fukushima I nuclear accident page.

Comments

Fernando said…
So right. Rumors create fear and fear create panic...panic is the enemy, the real one!

Look at China now, people are buying SALT to try and combat radiation with the iodine from Salt....they are actually hoarding on salt because of the fear of radiation that is like 900 kms away!

I agree 100% with you and stand on what you say...educate, read and understand, that will help you clear rumors, take the good and ignore the bad, fight the fear and prevent in the end panic
Martin J Frid said…
Thanks Fernando, you make some very good points. What got me thinking about this was the news that Japan's government has raised the radiation exposure limit for police and Self-Defense Force personnel to allow them enough time to engage in an operation to cool reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. NHK noted that on Thursday, the limit was raised to 250 millisieverts, in an emergency measure applying only to the ongoing nuclear crisis. The limit for government employees in emergency situations had been 100 millisieverts.

I am still trying to ascertain what this means in terms of the radiation emission levels (3,700-4,000 microsieverts per hour) mentioned.
Pandabonium said…
I advise people regarding fear this way: if you are afraid of something, study it. Only through knowledge can we make a rational judgment of what we are dealing with. That applies to anything.

The raised limit for workers - to 250 millisieverts is still 1/2 that of the global standard.

Measurements are only meaningful at the place they are taken. So where was the 3,700 microsieverts recorded?

And there seems to be a lot of confusion about units. 3,700 microsieverts is 3.7 millisieverts - the two are mixed up frequently even by people who should know better.

An excellent explanation of the topic regarding safety can be found here: Radiation Levels in Tokyo, Japan: Are they safe?
Jan-Åke said…
Important info:

Massive Cover-Up Of Radiation Levels In Fukushima Prefecture - Alex Jones Tv 1-3

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbgXJrA1uTA&feature=player_embedded
steveb said…
Martin,

I know little to nothing about radiation. Thus, I don't know if the news reports are credible. I suspect they are, but really have no basis for judgment. The common denominator I see in all reports is that radiation levels will now be a part of our lives in Japan. I also believe the reports that the levels will be inconsequential.

OK. I'm fine with that and there's no getting around it anyway. My only fear in this situation is that something could go wrong in the near future as they try to contain the situation, a situation that the news reports and reports from the various governments lead me to believe has a certain aspect of volatility. I give the situation a 99% chance of working out all right, and a 1% chance of going badly wrong.

Those are very good odds that those of us unaffected by the tsunami will come through this all right. But, those odds were not good enough for me when I considered my dependents, my children. I don't want to play the odds, no matter how good, when it comes to my children. That is why I left the area.

Why don't I just stay away, why will I come back when the odds get even better? Because I live in Japan, it is my home, that is where my people are, that is the place I love, that is where I want to raise my children.

In sum, I really think the new level of radiation that we will have to bear as a society will be at such a level that the affects will be virtually inconsequential. I believe we will be able to live, be healthy and thrive in our homes in Japan.
Unknown said…
I Would very much like to get in touch with somebody in japan that is actually helping out, somebody who is commanding what to be done to help, that way i could tell him a simple but effective way to stop the nuclear plants from going melt down, i may not know that much about nuclear material, but i do have faith that my fathers plan may work, i don't know if japan have tried it out yet, but from what i have seen on the news these past days, it doesn't look like they have tried it out yet, although i have said this, this plan would only work if somebody takes me seriously and gives it a go...
Pandabonium said…
The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland has a very informative page about health risk.

It really puts things into easy to grasp perspective: Health Risk

Also, the Narita Airport has started publishing readings at the airport and surrounding areas with a list of links and a PDF file with updates. Narita Airport (scroll down to #3)
Jan-Åke said…
Full meltdown in full swing? Japan maximum nuclear alert:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MognnB0g56Y&feature=player_embedded
Jan-Åke said…
GREENPEACE Measures EXTREME RADIATION 40KM From Fukushima – Why No Evacuation?

http://www.prisonplanet.com/greenpeace-measures-extreme-radiation-40km-from-fukushima-why-no-evacuation.html

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