Saturday, March 19, 2011

Japan Radiation Fears .... greatly exaggerated !!!!

 As workers struggle to contain the fallout from the crippled nuclear plant in northeastern Japan, people as far away as Illinois are calling public health officials in a state of panic.
There is much hue and cry all over the world to buy 'Potassium Iodide' .. a drug known to protect thyroid gland from radiation to some extent. Panic is being created even on some social websites like Facebook, and Twitter etc. by some people.
They are hoping to get their hands on potassium iodide pills to protect them from radiation -- despite warnings that, in the absence of a real nuclear threat, taking the medicine is riskier than doing nothing.
Sixty-six years after the first atomic bomb exploded over the city of Hiroshima, radiation spooks people everywhere. But the anxiety is largely disproportionate to the actual danger.
"People in general have an exaggerated fear of radiation. That is true in the United States, and it is probably even more so in Japan & whole Asia" said Jerrold Bushberg, director of health physics programs and clinical professor of radiology and radiation oncology at the University of California Davis.
Despite the Japanese government's assurances that the risk so far is minimal, residents of Tokyo have flooded out of the city and foreigners have fled the country, hoping to escape a threat they cannot see.
The fact is that everyone is exposed to small amounts of radiation every day just from living on earth or flying in an airplane. That all adds up to about 2.4 units, known as millisieverts, a year. This can vary widely, ranging from 1 to 10 millisieverts, depending on where you live.

Background radiation will cause 1 out of 100 people to die of cancer in their lifetimes, said Dr. Donald Bucklin, who spent 10 years as medical director for the Palo Verde nuclear plant in Arizona, the largest nuclear plant in the United States. Additional exposure increases this risk.
In Tokyo, 150 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi plant, people grew fearful when readings rose about 10 times above the normal reading. At that level, residents were exposed to 0.809 microsieverts per hour -- 1,000 times less than a millisievert, or about 10 times less than a chest X-ray.
"The levels of radiation experienced by the public at present should be no cause for concern," said Dr. Richard Wakeford, visiting professor of epidemiology at the Dalton Nuclear Institute at University of Manchester in Britain.

"To put radiation doses into context, many Japanese undergo CT scans for cancer screening purposes, and these scans produce radiation doses of about 10 millisieverts (10,000 microsieverts) -- much more than they are receiving from the Fukushima reactors."
Japan radiation localized, no immediate threat: WHO :
Friday,March.18,2011 .... The WHO believes the spread of radiation from a quake crippled nuclear plant in Japan remains limited and appears to pose no immediate threat or risk to health.
At this point, there is still no evidence that there's been significant radiation spread beyond the immediate zone of the reactors themselves," Michael O'Leary (WHO China's representative) told a group of reporters.
"At the same time, we know that the situation is evolving and we need to monitor closely and see what happens over time. Things can obviously change, and have changed, over this last week."
(This GeoEye's IKONOS satellite image was taken over the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan at 10:19 am (Tokyo time) on March 17, 2011 and released to Reuters on March 17 ).
Japan has been battling for nearly a week to bring under control the overheating Fukushima nuclear plant after it was battered by a massive earthquake and tsunami.
Experts and officials fear a major leak of radioactive substances from the plant could pose a serious health risk, and China, India and nearby countries have stepped up monitoring of radiation levels.
O'Leary suggested that the impact of such an event on this region would be small, but said other factors mattered too.
"The reactors, of course, are quite far from India and China. The risk of spread depends on several factors. One is obviously the amount of radioactive material, or radionuclides, that are released from the reactor itself. Beyond that are weather and wind conditions that determine," he said.
"As with anything that spreads or can spread out, the farther away you are, the more dispersed it is."
The emergency has sparked panic buying of iodized salt in China and India , based on the misunderstanding that the iodine it contains could prevent the body's intake of radioactive iodine that could be released in the event of a major explosion at the plant.
But O'Leary said iodine should not be taken indiscriminately or treated as a substitute for supplements administered before or shortly after radiation exposure to reduce the risk of long-term cancer.
"It should not be taken indiscriminately. It does have potential side effects," he said.
"The amount of iodine in salt is very small. It wouldn't be possible to consume enough salt to get a protective dose. In the end, not many people will need iodine supplements."


  1. I do understand the fear. But what I don't understand is where is the Faith? Doesn't anyone realize that that we could be nearing the end of days? Are we prepared spiritually? I have made my peace with my life and my Lord. I do not fear any of this. Why are so many afraid to die? Perhaps it is a fear of a painful death yet look what our Lord sacrificed for our sins.
    Love Di ♥

  2. Hello Di ... thanks for your visit here.
    Your words of wisdom are much appreciated ... Why there is so much of panic all the time,all around ? I agree with you, we have lost endurance and faith in HIM and our lives.

  3. While arguing on the issue,we forget that Japanese have and are still suffering from the after effects of Atom Bomb in 1945(Hiroshima and Nagasaki).An event which caused a million deaths and many are still suffering waiting for death.
    To underplay the issue as 'over reaction' is tantamount to being completely empathetical.While there always will be some who will be (pretend to be)bold enough to dismiss this as panic reaction,the fear of the possible radiation affecting them is frightening to all of us,more so for Japanese and those who are staying there.
    Prevention is far better than possible death or life time of suffering.And the scenario has still not completely unfolded,let us remember,and anything can happen.
    And who can forget the Chernobyl experience too!!
    -Jagdip Bhat

  4. @Jagdeep Bhatt... This over reaction or exaggeration of radiation fears all over the world & esp. in Japan & neighboring countries is secondary to exactly what happened in 1945 atomic bombing or during Chernobyl nuclear sisaster of 1986. You know a saying in hindi "Doodh ka zala chhaachh ko bhi phoonk phoonk kar peeta hai ". But what the Japanese authorities or WHO officials are saying now about the present situation seem to be correct to some extent as of now. They haven't yet ruled out further deterioration in the situation & the fears of this fact are evident in their statements.
    But practically the disaster of 1945 & 1986 can't be compared or equated to the present one. The 1945 bombing was a sudden,massive, open exposure to radiation & 1986 diaster was also somewhat similar to 1945 exposure. In Chernobyl the reactor IV suffered a catastrophic power increase, leading to explosions in its core with sudden & total blowing off of its roof. This dispersed the whole large quantities of radioactive fuel and core materials into the atmosphere. Later a big flaw in constuction of the reactor's roof & walls was found besides operating errors which led to this disaster.

    There was practically not much knowledge & measures available with us about the magnitude & measurement of the radiation levels at that time but now the things & picture can be much clearly percepted & visualised. We can now exactly find out the level of radiation. Moreover, there has not been a total catastrophy or sudden & complete bursting of any of the reactors now, and also much better cooling means and devices for the reactors are available now which are being used at present. All these factors and more accurate assesment measures have enabled scientifically the Japanese authorities and WHO officials to issue this statement of " Japan radiation fears ... greatly exaggerated". They have also said : "At the same time, we know that the situation is evolving and we need to monitor closely and see what happens over time".

  5. @ Jagdeep Bhatt .. "THANK YOU" sir for your kind visit here and expressing your genuine,legitimate views and concern over the topic. Please feel free to comment in future as well.
    Your concern and views are much appreciated !!!