Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I'd like to share some comments and responses some of you have made.

From Erica, who was hospitalized for a while, when she had serious symptoms of Chron's colitis.:
 I like this  article: http://technorati.com/lifestyle/article/what-does-being-safe-really-mean1/ 

From what I've found, each  abdominal x-ray was about 8 mSv, each abdominal CT was between 10 and  30 mSv. The World Nuclear Association says that 100 mSv per year is the lowest dose at which there is an increased risk of cancer.  At the  time it seemed like all the x-rays were necessary because I was in a  
critical situation, but I still wish that they had been up front about  the possible long-term effects of such exposure. I probably would have  declined some of the x-rays as I suspected they were going overboard.

My thoughts:  it seems like the 100 miliSeivert (mSv) reading is the one to focus on.  Above that and you can start getting radiation sickness  like nausea.   Increase to 1000 mSv and you get even worse symptoms, like bleeding and at 5000-10,000 mSv the person will die, depending on how much medical care they get.   The Japanese govt./TEPCO upped the radiation dosage it will allow its workers to take to 200 mSv.   They now have brought in some 6000 people according to one report.   This is way up from the 100 person shifts that were being swapped out after they overdosed on radiation.  This suggests that Japan is employing a strategy similar to that used in dealing with Chernobyl, where the USSR Govt. conscripted 600,000 men to be "liquidators",  each taking a high, but survivable dose to help clean up the plant.   (This was after the initial accident which killed dozens due to radiation overdoses).   Radiation levels at the plant are sometimes over 100 mSv per hour, so in a matter of minutes the workers are getting the maximum safe amount for one YEAR.    For reference, levels like normal "background" levels are 2-3 mSv per year!   So a single CT scan gives you, in a few minutes 10x what you would get per year normally, but this is about 5x less than a dangerous level.

Also:  I wish people would be up front when it comes to all things radiation related!  There's an assumption, with which I strongly disagree, that the general public is "not well educated" enough to understand such things and are better off being uninformed and trusting professionals.

From Josh:

I have a batch of carrots growing in my backyard, and there have been rains in the past few days with this radiation cloud supposedly overhead. Should I ditch the carrots & soil? ?Or no need to be concerned about that?
My response:  I don't really know how much radioactivity could be accumulated in carrots, and I'm sure US authorities would say "don't worry."  But my response is:  if you don't eat garden grown food, where is the food you are eating coming from anyway?  Nearly all of my food comes from California, which also feeds the nation with its extensive farms.    So whatever the radiation level in your carrots,  you are unlikely to be able to find food with an obviously different radiation level, since the radiation is now all spread out here in Calif.  Things would be quite different if we were in Japan where it is very likely that some growing areas will be much more affected than others.

As before, I think the best thing we can do is eat a healthy diet and fortify our bodies and our childeren's bodies against the small doses of radiation that we are now getting.     In the next post, I'll discuss the radioactive isotopes  involved and what we can do to preemptively counter their effects.


At March 22, 2011 at 12:38 PM , Blogger Q-taro said...

Chris, did you hear morning edition today (3/22)? They're reporting that most of the radioactive substances are iodine-131, which has an 8 day half-life. Although cesium-137 is also present, it is said to comprise "just a small fraction."


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