Tuesday 26 June 2012

Fukushima Consequences and Responses

NB. Posts in chronological order, see bottom page for latest links/info.

Quote: "How nuclear apologists mislead the world over radiation
by Helen Caldicott....

.."Soon after the Fukushima accident last month, I stated publicly that a nuclear event of this size and catastrophic potential could present a medical problem of very large dimensions. Events have proven this observation to be true despite the nuclear industry's campaign about the "minimal" health effects of so-called low-level radiation. That billions of its dollars are at stake if the Fukushima event causes the "nuclear renaissance" to slow down appears to be evident from the industry's attacks on its critics, even in the face of an unresolved and escalating disaster at the reactor complex at Fukushima.

Proponents of nuclear power – including George Monbiot, who has had a mysterious road-to-Damascus conversion to its supposedly benign effects – accuse me and others who call attention to the potential serious medical consequences of the accident of "cherry-picking" data and overstating the health effects of radiation from the radioactive fuel in the destroyed reactors and their cooling pools. Yet by reassuring the public that things aren't too bad, Monbiot and others at best misinform, and at worst misrepresent or distort, the scientific evidence of the harmful effects of radiation exposure – and they play a predictable shoot-the-messenger game in the process.

To wit:

1) Mr Monbiot, who is a journalist not a scientist, appears unaware of the difference between external and internal radiation

Let me educate him.

The former is what populations were exposed to when the atomic bombs were detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945; their profound and on-going medical effects are well documented. [1]

Internal radiation, on the other hand, emanates from radioactive elements which enter the body by inhalation, ingestion, or skin absorption. Hazardous radionuclides such as iodine-131, caesium 137, and other isotopes currently being released in the sea and air around Fukushima bio-concentrate at each step of various food chains (for example into algae, crustaceans, small fish, bigger fish, then humans; or soil, grass, cow's meat and milk, then humans). [2] After they enter the body, these elements – called internal emitters – migrate to specific organs such as the thyroid, liver, bone, and brain, where they continuously irradiate small volumes of cells with high doses of alpha, beta and/or gamma radiation, and over many years, can induce uncontrolled cell replication – that is, cancer. Further, many of the nuclides remain radioactive in the environment for generations, and ultimately will cause increased incidences of cancer and genetic diseases over time.

The grave effects of internal emitters are of the most profound concern at Fukushima. It is inaccurate and misleading to use the term "acceptable levels of external radiation" in assessing internal radiation exposures. To do so, as Monbiot has done, is to propagate inaccuracies and to mislead the public worldwide (not to mention other journalists) who are seeking the truth about radiation's hazards.

2) Nuclear industry proponents often assert that low doses of radiation (eg below 100mSV) produce no ill effects and are therefore safe. But , as the US National Academy of Sciences BEIR VII report has concluded, no dose of radiation is safe, however small, including background radiation; exposure is cumulative and adds to an individual's risk of developing cancer.

3) Now let's turn to Chernobyl. Various seemingly reputable groups have issued differing reports on the morbidity and mortalities resulting from the 1986 radiation catastrophe. The World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2005 issued a report attributing only 43 human deaths directly to the Chernobyl disaster and estimating an additional 4,000 fatal cancers. In contrast, the 2009 report, "Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment", published by the New York Academy of Sciences, comes to a very different conclusion. The three scientist authors – Alexey V Yablokov, Vassily B. Nesterenko, and Alexey V Nesterenko – provide in its pages a translated synthesis and compilation of hundreds of scientific articles on the effects of the Chernobyl disaster that have appeared in Slavic language publications over the past 20 years. They estimate the number of deaths attributable to the Chernobyl meltdown at about 980,000.

Monbiot dismisses the report as worthless, but to do so – to ignore and denigrate an entire body of literature, collectively hundreds of studies that provide evidence of large and significant impacts on human health and the environment – is arrogant and irresponsible. Scientists can and should argue over such things, for example, as confidence intervals around individual estimates (which signal the reliability of estimates), but to consign out of hand the entire report into a metaphorical dustbin is shameful.

Further, as Prof Dimitro Godzinsky, of the Ukranian National Academy of Sciences, states in his introduction to the report: "Against this background of such persuasive data some defenders of atomic energy look specious as they deny the obvious negative effects of radiation upon populations. In fact, their reactions include almost complete refusal to fund medical and biological studies, even liquidating government bodies that were in charge of the 'affairs of Chernobyl'. Under pressure from the nuclear lobby, officials have also diverted scientific personnel away from studying the problems caused by Chernobyl."

4) Monbiot expresses surprise that a UN-affiliated body such as WHOmight be under the influence of the nuclear power industry, causing its reporting on nuclear power matters to be biased. And yet that is precisely the case.

In the early days of nuclear power, WHO issued forthright statements on radiation risks such as its 1956 warning: "Genetic heritage is the most precious property for human beings. It determines the lives of our progeny, health and harmonious development of future generations. As experts, we affirm that the health of future generations is threatened by increasing development of the atomic industry and sources of radiation … We also believe that new mutations that occur in humans are harmful to them and their offspring."

After 1959, WHO made no more statements on health and radioactivity. What happened? On 28 May 1959, at the 12th World Health Assembly, WHO drew up an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); clause 12.40 of this agreement says: "Whenever either organisation [the WHO or the IAEA] proposes to initiate a programme or activity on a subject in which the other organisation has or may have a substantial interest, the first party shall consult the other with a view to adjusting the matter by mutual agreement." In other words, the WHO grants the right of prior approval over any research it might undertake or report on to the IAEA – a group that many people, including journalists, think is a neutral watchdog, but which is, in fact, an advocate for the nuclear power industry. The IAEA's founding papers state: "The agency shall seek to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity through the world."

Monbiot appears ignorant about the WHO's subjugation to the IAEA, yet this is widely known within the scientific radiation community. But it is clearly not the only matter on which he is ignorant after his apparent three-day perusal of the vast body of scientific information on radiation and radioactivity. As we have seen, he and other nuclear industry apologists sow confusion about radiation risks, and, in my view, in much the same way that the tobacco industry did in previous decades about the risks of smoking. Despite their claims, it is they, not the "anti-nuclear movement" who are "misleading the world about the impacts of radiation on human health."

• Helen Caldicott is president of the Helen Caldicott Foundation for a Nuclear-Free Planet and the author of Nuclear Power is Not the Answer

[1] See, for example, WJ Schull, Effects of Atomic Radiation: A Half-Century of Studies from Hiroshima and Nagasaki (New York: Wiley-Lis, 1995) and DE Thompson, K Mabuchi, E Ron, M Soda, M Tokunaga, S Ochikubo, S Sugimoto, T Ikeda, M Terasaki, S Izumi et al. "Cancer incidence in atomic bomb survivors, Part I: Solid tumors, 1958-1987" in Radiat Res 137:S17-S67 (1994).

[2] This process is called bioaccumulation and comes in two subtypes as well, bioconcentration and biomagnification. For more information see: J.U. Clark and V.A. McFarland, Assessing Bioaccumulation in Aquatic Organisms Exposed to Contaminated Sediments, Miscellaneous Paper D-91-2 (1991), Environmental Laboratory, Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, MS and H.A. Vanderplog, D.C. Parzyck, W.H. Wilcox, J.R. Kercher, and S.V. Kaye, Bioaccumulation Factors for Radionuclides in Freshwater Biota, ORNL-5002 (1975), Environmental Sciences Division Publication, Number 783, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN." Go to http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/apr/11/nuclear-apologists-radiation

Quote: "Japan's Nuclear Volcano Erupts By MIKE WHITNEY

Shares plunged across Europe, Asia and the United States on Tuesday as the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant deepened and Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency raised its radiological event scale to its highest level. Conditions at the stricken facility have steadily deteriorated despite the valiant efforts of emergency workers. The station continues to spew lethal amounts of radiation and other toxins into the atmosphere and around the world. A French nuclear group has warned that children and pregnant mothers should protect themselves from the fallout. According to Euractiv:

"The risks associated with iodine-131 contamination in Europe are no longer ‘negligible,’ according to CRIIRAD, a French research body on radioactivity. The NGO is advising pregnant women and infants against ‘risky behavior,’ such as consuming fresh milk or vegetables with large leaves."

The group's warning underlines the dangers posed by the out-of-control facility which is causing unprecedented damage to earth, sea and sky. But while the disaster continues to grow larger by the day, the government's only response has been to expand the evacuation zone and try to shape news to minimize the public backlash.

Emergency crews have braved high levels of radiation to bring the plant back under control, but with little success. A number of violent tremors and a second smaller tsunami have made their jobs nearly impossible. Thousands of gallons of radioactive water that was used as coolant has been flushed into the sea threatening marine life and sensitive habitat. The toxic release of radiation now poses an incalculable risk to the battered fishing industry and to fish-stocks around the world. These costs were never factored in when industry executives and politicians decided to exploit an energy source that can cause cancer, pollute the environment for millennia, and bring the world's third largest economy to its knees.

Raising the alert-rating to its highest level is an admission that a “major release of radioactive material with widespread health and environmental effects" has taken place and will likely continue for some time to come. The situation is getting worse by the day. Japan's government will now insist on the "implementation of planned and extended countermeasures.” In other words, a red alert. The threat to water supplies, food sources, livestock and humans is grave and ongoing. The media's efforts to protect the nuclear industry by downplaying the scale of the catastrophe have been moderately successful, but public awareness is rising as more people turn to alternate sources of information. The disaster has been as ruinous to the media's reputation as it has been to the environment.

This is from Reuters:

"Japan's economics minister warned on Tuesday that the economic damage from last month's earthquake and tsunami is likely to be worse than initially thought as power shortages will crimp factory output and restrict supply chains.

“The more sober assessment came as Japan raised the severity of its nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to a level 7 from 5, putting it on par with the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.

“The Bank of Japan governor said the economy was in a "severe state," while central bankers were uncertain when efforts to rebuild the tsunami-ravaged northeast would boost growth, according to minutes from a meeting held three days after a record earthquake struck Japan on March 11." ("Japan quake's economic impact worse than first feared", Reuters)

Foreign investors have yet to grasp the full impact of the crisis on Japan's economy. The Bank of Japan (BOJ) has increased its bond purchasing program and "launched an ultra-cheap loan scheme for banks in the area devastated by the quake", but monetary policy alone will not lead to a recovery. The government will have to initiate large-scale programs to engage the public while setting aside neoliberal policies that slash state spending and privatize public assets. Restoring economic well-being means strong leadership that moves forcefully in the opposite direction of present trends with the emphasis on shared sacrifice and community values.

This is from the Wall Street Journal:

“Fukushima Daiichi operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. warned Tuesday that since the Fukushima Daiichi plant is still releasing radioactive materials, the total level of radiation released could eventually exceed that of Chernobyl, a spokesman said.

“The new assessment comes as Japan admits that the effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident—which has already caused the evacuation of tens of thousands of people and spread radiation through groundwater and farms over a broad section of eastern Japan—are likely to be long-lasting and grave.....

“Japanese nuclear regulators determined that after the accident, the plant has likely released tens of thousands of terabecquerels—or a mind-boggling tens of thousands of trillions of becquerels—of radiation in the immediate area. That's a level that's been recorded only during the Chernobyl accident." ("Japanese Declare Crisis at Level of Chernobyl", Wall Street Journal)

Experts anticipate that the troubles at Fukushima will persist for months if not years. In the meantime, life-threatening levels of toxic radioactive material will be released into the air, water and soil. Small children and the unborn are at greatest risk, but incidents of adult thyroid cancer and other maladies will increase exponentially as well. The future of the nuclear industry has never been more uncertain, and for good reason." Go to http://www.counterpunch.org/whitney04132011.html

Quote: "The Japanese government is trying to calm fears about radiation levels and food safety in the region around the heavily damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility, even as it has raised the severity rating of the crisis to the highest possible level. "Radiation is continuing to leak out of the reactors. The situation is not stable at all," says Dr. Michio Kaku, professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York and the City College of New York. "The slightest disturbance could set off a full-scale meltdown at three nuclear power stations, far beyond what we saw at Chernobyl." From DemocracyNow.Org

Quote: "'Worst-case scenario: Fukushima fuel pool with plutonium catches fire'
Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pbje3ub5Dio

Quote: "(NaturalNews) Before jumping into today's essay here is the latest news: Radioactive levels at Fukushima were about 250 times higher than a month before."..

"TEPCO said the levels of caesium-134 and -137 increased about 250-fold and iodine-131 increased about 12 times compared with one month ago, after the accident had already happened.

The water level in the No. 4 reactor's turbine building rose by 20 centimeters in 10 days. TEPCO has detected 8,100 becquerels of caesium-137 and 7,800 becquerels of caesium-134 per cubic centimeter in the water in the turbine building's basement. The utility company said on Tuesday the 26th of April that the water level in the tunnel of the No. 3 reactor rose by 10 centimeters over three days.

Beyond that door is death. It's death's door and it has brought us a new hell on earth. What's behind this door and several others like it is so hot, in terms of death, that its effects can be seen 10,000 miles away. Though thanks to the media we almost forgot about this and other similar doors and the nuclear meltdowns that are occurring right here right now on planet earth.

Today you have to be a hound dog to sniff up any credible news about what is actually going on at that destroyed nuclear plant. It's very scary how the media has clamped down on most of the news so it seems like multiple nuclear meltdowns are not a big deal.

On April 21 radiation levels stood at up to 110 microsieverts per hour in the air in the town of Okuma in Tokyo, some 3 kilometers southwest of that door you see above.

If a person is exposed to this quantity of radiation for about nine hours, the cumulative dose is estimated to reach one millisieverts, the annual safety limit set by the government. Do the math. In just 30 days a person living there would have a lethal dose!

On Sunday, April 24, 2011 Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) disclosed a map of radiation levels at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Radiation levels around the No. 3 reactor building, which was damaged by a powerful hydrogen explosion, are higher than in other locations, and 300 millisieverts per hour of radiation was detected in debris on a nearby mountainside. Stand near that and 30 hours later kiss life goodbye.

Work started on April 6th to remove contaminated rubble that had been obstructing the restoration process. TEPCO says much of the debris around the former office building has been removed, and it has started clearing the rubble around the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors. Enough debris has been removed to fill 50 containers, and it is being kept in a field on the mountainside.

The radiation levels one meter away are 1 to 2 millisieverts per hour. Gee, that would be a walk in the park, meaning we could hang around endlessly until 20 days go by and then we too are radioactive toast.

Okay so let's translate that into a bit of practical reality for people 10,000 miles away on the east coast of the United States. We're getting pretty far away from that damn door and yet its nuclear wretchedness is reaching around the world just like Chernobyl did.

Radiation a Personal Account

"I am a retired biologist who used to work in radiation biology. Just wanted to share with you what we've been doing lately. We live in the mid-Atlantic area of the U.S. We have a Geiger counter and have been testing daily for radiation (am and pm) since the Fukushima incident. Since March 11, our numbers normally are 25-30 cpm inside and 31-35 cpm outside (Geiger counter sits at an open window). This is within background radiation numbers. When it rains, the numbers rise to about 35 cpm for inside and 40 cpm for outside. Our grass reads around 50 cpm. I noticed today after I did some weeding (sunny day) and washing my hands that they read around 50 cpm. I had to wash them 3-4 times before the reading went down.

"Also noticed a couple of dandelions looking abnormal (their stems were twice as thick as others and heads were joined). Never saw that before.

"We had ordered kelp granules from the company Maine Coast three weeks ago. We typically use kelp in our foods, and this was a bigger order than usual because of the nuclear incident. Just got the shipment today! We tested the bags of kelp for radiation and they tested 182 cpm! We called the company but they had their answering machine on, stating that they won't be open until April 25th because they're doing inventory. We plan to return the kelp! Noticed the expiration date is April 16, 2013, which makes us wonder if they filled the order after the Fukushima incident (maybe April 16, 2011?).

Life with Geiger counters will become much more common in our futures as well as nuclear weather reports. They might as well have ripped a hole into another universe with so much hell to be released each month for as long as we can see into the future. Best-case scenario at this point would be several years of relentless radiation buildup around the world but most particularly in the northern hemisphere where it will be increasingly difficult to get uncontaminated food. Let's not even think of worst-case scenarios for not many of us will be around for long if such were to occur.

Authorities will keep everything under their hat for as long as humanly possible to avoid panic and migrations. With financial collapse on the horizon, private citizens will not be able to afford any movement anyway and will have to dig in and weather the radiation. With the help of the media, the entire populations of the north are caught like deer in the headlights and are totally unaware of and unprepared for this increasing nuclear radiation. In case no one has informed you, radioactivity makes it harder for our bodies to live.

Today's Nuclear News

The Number 4 spent fuel pool stores 1,535 fuel rods, the most at the nuclear complex. TEPCO says it will inject 210 tons of water into the pool on Monday, after finding on Sunday evening that the temperature in the pool had risen to 81 degrees Celsius. The utility firm had earlier limited the amount of water being injected into the pool to 70 tons a day, saying the weight of the water could weaken the reactor building, which was already damaged in last month's hydrogen explosion.

On Friday, TEPCO found that the pool's temperature had reached 91 degrees, so it began injecting 2 to 3 times the amount of water. TEPCO says the pool's water temperature dropped to 66 degrees on Saturday after water was injected, but started to rise again, to 81 degrees. The operator says the water level in the pool was 2.5 meters lower than normal after 165 tons of water was injected on Sunday.


But there is absolutely nothing to worry about! Doctors are not worried that iodine deficiency will make you much more vulnerable to death rays in the form of radioactive iodine, which your thyroid will mop up like a sponge. But what do doctors or our friendly governments care?

"I have been trying to get a prescription for iodine from a medical doctor, but I can't find one that will do it. They tell me BS like you don't need it; it's dangerous to take supplemental iodine without a battery of thyroid tests, and a bunch of other BS ad nauseum. I used to be able to get it over the counter at a drugstore, but no longer. I need to find an MD with common sense that will actually help me. David Ostrander"

Radiation Hell at the disused plutonium reactors at
Sellafield, England are a "slow motion Chernobyl" according
to Greenpeace campaigners against nuclear energy.

The BBC says, "There are about 440 operational reactors in 32 countries, generating 16 percent of the world's electricity. Only 27 new reactors are under construction, mainly in Eastern Europe and Asia. Not one of the remaining 22 countries with nuclear power is currently building any new reactors, including the USA, Canada and all of Western Europe. The western world has put its nuclear power program on hold. This is arguably due at least in part to the Chernobyl accident and the ensuing perception that no matter how small the risk, it is just not worth it."

For all the references, sources and more articles on radiation and chemical toxicity please visit Dr. Mark Sircus blog.

About the author:
Mark A. Sircus, Ac., OMD, is director of the International Medical Veritas Association (IMVA) http://www.imva.info/."...
"International Medical Veritas Association: http://www.imva.info/
http://publications.imva.info/ " Go to http://www.naturalnews.com/032251_Fukushima_radiation.html

Thanks to OrganicConsumer (follow@OrganicConsumer), for the "tweeted" link to the above.

Comprehensive and Authoritative (incl. an excellent piece on Chernobyl), thanks to theautomaticearth.blogspot.com, articles by "Stonleigh" and "AP", go to http://theautomaticearth.blogspot.com/2011/05/may-2-2011-fukushima-fallacies-fallout.html

Quote: "Radiation Levels High Well Outside The Exclusion Zone"
Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dxbm7iJTT8U&feature=youtu.be

Quote: "TEPCO now confirms nuclear meltdown in Fukushima reactor No. 1"
Go to http://www.naturalnews.com/032378_nuclear_meltdown_TEPCO.html

Quote: "TEPCO admits nuclear meltdown occurred at Fukushima reactor 16 hours after quake"
Go to http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110516p2a00m0na028000c.html

Quote: "Cooling system of Fukushima plant's No. 1 reactor not functioning before tsunami"
Go to http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110517p2a00m0na008000c.html

Quote: "Fukushima No.1 rods "completely melted""
Go to http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/video/2011-05/17/c_13878946.htm

Quote: "Japan: meltdown feared at two more Fukushima reactors"
Go to http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/8517861/Japan-meltdown-feared-at-two-more-Fukushima-reactors.html

Quote: "Japan govt body detailed tsunami risks before March 11:documents"
Go to http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/15/us-japan-nuclear-study-idUSTRE74E0M320110515

Thanks to pete f (of the "MediaLens" Message board), for the last six links.

Quote: "Japan's "throwaway" nuclear workers" Go to http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/24/us-japan-nuclear-idUSTRE75N18A20110624?feedType=RSS&feedName=environmentNews&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+reuters/environment+

Quote: "Chernobyl Evacuation Limit 5,000 uSv/yr, Yet 394,200 uSv/yr Detected In Fukushima School Zone" Go to http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2011/06/11/chernobyl-evacuation-limit-5000-usvyr-394200-usvyr-detected-fukushima-school-zone-25951/

Quote: "It is important to know that there is no such thing as a safe level of exposure. The scientific consensus is that exposure to ionizing radiation at any level carries some risk of harm.

Absolute claims that a certain exposure is not harmful to the publicEare, to be blunt, incorrect. Actually, it is implying a value judgment: that the levels of exposure (and doses) are not viewed as significant enough to warrant concern. A judgment like this is often based on two (related) beliefs: Low doses carry less chance of harm. Higher doses carry more chance of harm. For those who like the technical descriptions, this is referred to as the linear, no threshold model. Exposure levels below regulatory standards are not dangerous to public health. Regulatory standards are basically government determinations of how much harm society is willing to tolerate from some sort of hazard (i.e., exposure to toxins). Except in rare examples, regulatory standards reflect complex trade-offs between the kinds of harms we want to avoid (e.g., additional cancers in a population), economic costs, and our values about what is important. In other words, assertions that even a small level of radiation will not harm human health is really an assertion that the levels will not cause intolerable levels of harm among the public, even though there is a small risk. Furthermore, arguments have been put forward that regulatory standards for radiation exposures are not always protective enough.
The existing science suggests that the harm likely to occur in an exposed population
Another thing to realize is that most studies are about what happens to groups of people, not to specific individuals. That is because there is always some chance or randomness to what happens to a specific individual that is exposed to ionizing radiation. The science that informs much of our understanding of radiation effects on health is from studies of survivors of the US nuclear bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World WarII. These like many other studies are often in the form of epidemiological studies of low-dose radiation exposure.

The risk of harm, like cancer, is affected by a number of variables, including how we are exposed, the form of ionizing radiation (alpha, beta, gamma), the isotope, who we are, what we eat, and, of course, where we are. For low doses, these studies are often inconclusive and it is difficult or impossible to show links of causation with certainty. Studies can be inconclusive when there is poor information about the actual exposures or who was exposed (both problems tend to cause underestimations of the real effect). Some commentators in the media make claims that there were no increases in, say, leukemia after the Chernobyl accident. This is also why some people claim that exposures below 0.1 gray (10 rad) are safe (or 0.1 sieverts and 10 rem). That is because the studies have not detected an increase of the disease in the population. But, the truth is that the absence of an observed effect is not proof of no effect. If it is a good study, it can be an indication of a small overall effect. If it is a poorly designed study (e.g., exposure histories are now known, difficulties differentiating between who was exposed and who not) then the meaning of the results are highly questionable.
How we are exposed matters. We can be exposed to an external source, such as CT scans and cosmic radiation (gamma rays). We can also ingest or inhale particles (alpha and beta particles). This is called an internal source. When the source is inside of us, we receive a dose for as long as it is in our body. It can also depend on whether we inhale or ingest a radioactive particle, as the figures below suggest. For example, inhaled particles are more likely to damage the lungs, as one might expect.
The form of ionizing radiation matters. Hopefully, this is clear from what you just read. Alpha emitters transfer more energy to tissue than gamma rays. In other words, they can cause more damage to cells, DNA, etc., which in turn can lead to, for example, cancer. In addition, isotopes with shorter half-lives are more likely to transfer their energy when theyare absorbed in the body. This is one reason why there is lots of attention to iodine-131, which has a half-life of 8 days. A rule of thumb used is that environmental concentrations remain potentially harmful until a period of 10 half-lives has passed; in the case of iodine-131 this would be 80 days.
The isotope matters. Isotopes are really just variations on an element. For example, there are different isotopes of iodine, and the body doesnt care it will use any isotope of iodine when it needs iodine. That is why in a nuclear accident people might take potassium-iodide they fill the body's need for iodine with safeEisotopes and block out the use of unsafe isotopes, like iodine-131. Most of the time, however, we cannot easily block absorption of an isotope into our tissues. And, depending on the location of the tissue and its need for different elements, it might stay in our bodies for a long time. For example, the body treats strontium like calcium, so it can accumulate in bones. Strontium-90 is one of the elements released in nuclear accidents and explosions, and when it decays it gives off beta radiation. It has a half-life of 29 years. Plutonium particles also accumulate preferentially in certain tissues; this is illustrated by the figures, which show relative concentrations in different tissues of adults and infants (more red means more likely that plutonium will be incorporated into the tissue).
Who we are matters. Different individuals can be more or less sensitive to the harmful effects of ionizing radiation. Rapidly growing or dividing cells are most sensitive to radiation damage. For example, it is well known that children are more sensitive to many types of exposures, including radioactive iodine that can harm the thyroid. This is also clearly demonstrated in the figures for plutonium exposure shown here. Fetuses are at higher risk (early studies of the harmful effects of ionizing radiation were about x-rays to pregnant women).
What we eat matters. Radioactive elements can accumulate in plants and animal tissues, just as they do in human tissue. For example, cows can eat grass contaminated by iodine-131, which can then be passed into milk. People who drink fresh milk can receive higher doses than those who drink commercially processed milk. The delay in getting milk to market allows more decay to occur. There are also reports that spinach and other food products in Japan have higher than normal concentrations of radioactive isotopes.
Where we are matters. Exposures to background radiation vary by elevation and location. But, more to the point here, exposures can vary because of the way that radioactive materials are dispersed from a source. If the radioactive materials are ejected high into the atmosphere then they can travel far and wide because of winds (like the jet stream). At lower altitudes, they might not be carried as far. Fallout from Chernobyl was widespread throughout Europe because the fire at the reactor ejected the plume high into the atmosphere. When steam is released to relieve pressure in a reactor (like at Daiichi) the radiation is not likely to be carried as far. This is the problem of dispersion, and there are a lot of complexities. For example, fallout from nuclear weapons tests in Nevada was generally higher closer to Nevada. But a closer look reveals that “hot spots can be all over the place in New York, Vermont, Tennessee, etc. as shown in the map of iodine-131 deposition from US nuclear weapons tests. One of the factors determining the location of a hot spot is where it rained at the same time as the radioactive plume was passing overhead. This is true for all fallout contaminants, including cesium-137.22
Based on all of this, the appropriate question is not are the levels safe or not. The appropriate question to ask is: What is the risk of harm to whom?" Go to http://www.psr.org/resources/health-risks-releases-radioactivity.pdf

Quote: "400,000,000,000 neutrons released per square meter surface of spent fuel pools between March 13-20
The team of atmospheric chemists at UCSD] calculated how much radiation must have been released.

“You know how much seawater they used, how far neutrons will penetrate into the seawater and the size of the chloride ion. From that you can calculate how many neutrons must have reacted with chlorine to make radioactive sulfur,” said Antra Priyadarshi, a post-doctoral researcher in Thiemens’ lab and first author of the paper. Gerardo Dominguez, another member of Mark Thiemens’ research group, is also an author of the report.

After accounting for losses along the way as the sulfate particles fell into the ocean, decayed, or eddied away from the stream of air heading toward California, the researchers calculated that 400 billion neutrons were released per square meter surface of the cooling pools, between March 13, when the seawater pumping operation began, and March 20, 2011. [...]" Go to http://enenews.com/report-400000000000

Quote: "Rainout of hot particles from radioactive clouds to continue for another year — Not just in Pacific Northwest, says Gundersen"
Go to http://enenews.com/radioactive-clouds-rainout-hot-particles-continue-another-year-pacific-northwest-gundersen-audio

Quote: "There’s a very, very high level of contamination even as far south as Tokyo. For example, we found one sample in Tokyo that had levels of radioactivity higher than levels inside the Chernobyl exclusion zone. a Very serious matter."
Go to http://members5.boardhost.com/medialens/msg/1313620951.html

Quote: "Nuclear Engineer: I find it very strange there’s been no photos of Unit No. 3 fuel pool for months" and ""containments have breached and released plutonium off-site".."“Much worse” than if from spent fuel" Go to http://members5.boardhost.com/medialens/msg/1315341046.html Also follow@enenews

The BBC's "Denial Factory"
Quote: "Jim Khalili "Science Denial" on "Horizon"
How much evidence do you need Jim? Aiding and abetting the nuclear death industry? You should know better. Please Jim (for I intend to Tweet this message to Prof.Kahlili), look at the evidence! I was warning people about the state of The Japanese Nuclear Industry two years ago (and I know I'm not the first). Your contention that (para) "these old-tech reactors were the problem" just doesn't hold enough water (like they don't), the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa reactor was ultra-modern and huge. quote: "Ask yourselves how it has come to be acceptable for, for instance; The Russian and American presidents (ostensibly -and in reality- gnashing their teeth over Poland), to cabal themselves during the recent summit in Tokyo and get their heads together on how both to repair the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa reactor ( http://www.stwr.org/land-energy-water/nuclear-power-no-panacea-critics-say.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mihama_Nuclear_Power_Plant http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/features/earthquake-fire-and-nuclear-l/ -Edited 11/12/10-), and keep the whole affair from the public?
How is it that the B.B.C can show wonderful pictures of Britain from the air, including aerial shots taken with isotopic-radiation sensitive cameras, but all that Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace can just about manage (with anything like an international profile), is to keep the blood-thirsty Japanese off the whales for another season and ignore all the other oceanic life out there dying of our ignorance." Go to http://medialens.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3021 (thread dated August 2009)

How is that we can only manage to drag out a British apologist for The Nuclear Death Industry (miscarriages in America, Toronto radiation readings through the roof, neutron beams etc.etc. but you walk around telling everyone it's O.K?!), what about giving air-time to (any of), the people who appear on either of these two threads? "Fukushima Consequences and Responses" Go to http://medialens.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3186 and
"Contamination/The Jetstream/Precautions/Treatments" Go to http://medialens.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3180
How breathtakingly self-serving and irresponsible can you be?! This is the BBC telling everyone everything is o.k (because we know people want to hear this).

As a scientist Jim how many contaminants do you think The Northern Jetstream is capable of carrying and then depositing on us (re: de-salination of the Gulf-Stream etc.)? None? Why? May I hazard that it is because no-one has done the necessary monitoring? One can only conclude that as a "scientist" you also think that environmentalists are primitive creatures unworthy of your consideration!!!" From eponymous thread on The Media Lens Message Board, go to http://members5.boardhost.com/medialens/msg/1316033714.html

Quote: "ABC Headline: “Fukushima fuel rods eating through solid concrete” — Just 37 cm away from outer casing"
Go to http://enenews.com/abc-fukushima-fuel-eating-concrete-37-cm-away-outer-casing

Quote: "IEEE Headline: “Fukushima’s Reactor 1 Meltdown Was Worse Than We Realized” "
Go to http://enenews.com/ieee-headline-fukushimas-reactor-1-meltdown-was-worse-than-we-realized-looking-forward-to-finding-out-what-tepco-knew-and-when-they-knew-it

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