Tuesday, March 15

Radiation Poisoning and You

Now, as you may have read from my updates on the Japan situation the highest recorded radiation from the Fukushima Power Plants to date has been 8,217 microSieverts. That roughly translates to 0.008 Sieverts or 8/1000 Sieverts. What does that mean?

Well, the radiation that is being vented from time to time includes some radioactive gas. This gas has a very short half life and becomes non-radioactive very quickly. BNC puts the lack of danger in perspective:
A very small amount of Cesium was released, as well as Iodine. If you were sitting on top of the plants’ chimney when they were venting, you should probably give up smoking to return to your former life expectancy. The Cesium and Iodine isotopes were carried out to the sea and will never be seen again.
If you are exposed to this 0.008 Sievert amount it may affect your health but will most likely have no lasting damage. Now, if you are exposed to 1 to 2 Sieverts, you will have (Wikipedia):
  • a 5 - 50% chance of nausea and vomiting lasting 24 hours
  • no Diarrhea
  • a slight headache
  • maybe a fever
  • a decrease in the number of white blood cells
  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • and you have a 0-5% chance of mortality (with or without medical care)
 How can you prevent Radiation poisoning? 

You can't. Basically, you want to be exposed from as far away as possible and for as little time as possible. Also, you want to avoid consumption of anything possibly contaminated. When radioactive compounds enter the human body, the effects are different from those resulting from exposure to an external radiation source. Especially in the case of alpha radiation, which normally does not penetrate the skin, the exposure can be much more damaging after ingestion or inhalation.


What should you do if you live in or close to Tokyo?

Well, this is a tough question. I have no solid answers and although I would definitely be more worried than I am now, I still would be very torn. Again, the reactors are not a serious danger. Even if there was a core meltdown, which seems highly unlikely, there are very safe steps to seal off the core and wait until it cools into a solid again thus minimizing any hazardous emissions.

What you should be doing while considering your options is this:
Stay indoors. In order to prevent exposure from gases indoors, close all windows doors and stop all ventilation. (It probably wouldn't hurt to have wet towels under each door.)
If you have to go outside, cover your mouth and nose with a wet towel. Also, your skin should be exposed as little as possible. Change clothes and wash once you return indoors. Don't eat food  or drink open water from outside (NHK).
The Japanese Government has been preparing iodine tablets. Will this help?

Yes and no. Administered orally immediately after exposure, may be used to protect the thyroid from ingested radioactive iodine. But this, of course, only minimizes Thyroid Cancer.

What is the treatment for radiation poisoning?

Nothing. Just like the common cold, there are no cures, just drugs that will help with certain symptoms (while creating others).

Hey, Dan, do you have anything else you'd like to share?

Why, of course, I'm glad you asked. As I am currently learning Japanese in this great country of Japan...
I figured there is about a .001% chance someone reading this blog would want to know this:
Houshasen ni sarasaremashita no de tasukete kudasai.
I have been exposed to radiation so please help me.
Why did Devo wear radiation suits?
Pearl Japan impersonates Devo in radiation suits. Whip it Good!

No clue.


  1. From "How can you prevent radiation poisoning?" on you are kind of going on a worrisome tangent.
    At the moment there is no huge danger outside a 30km radius of the plant, and almost zero chance of serious exposure outside the prefecture, let alone Tokyo, 120 miles (200 km) away.
    I'm not saying you're incorrect, just that in the context of Japan's current situation, this may cause more unnecessary fear rather than helpful information.
    Also, your Japanese is correct but...c'mon. Really?

  2. Haha, Yeah Greg, I agree, the post is a bit immature. Especially the Japanese. I was really interested in what the radiation levels actually meant, and I figured other people would want to know. I included the video you shared on Facebook. I figured the video (and the fact that I mentioned the radiation levels were close to insignificant) would state the lack of danger (as portrayed in media). Really, the "Hey, Dan" section is where I stop being serious which I thought would be quite obvious from the tone and picture. I guess I kinda vented after days of serious news blogging.

    In all seriousness, what would your thoughts be if you lived even as far a way as Tokyo? I was being honest when I said I wouldn't know what to do.

  3. I definitely have no intentions of scaring or worrying people. I will change some things to make this more clear.

  4. what if you drink radiated water?

  5. It really depends on the amount of radiation (measured in becquerels) and how much you consume and for how long (days, months, etc). Also, which kind of radioactive material. Most of what has leaked out of the Fukushima Reactor(s) has a very short half-life (or how quickly the element decays) which means it wouldn't be very harmful at all.


You should probably engage in some conversation.