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Fukushima radiation exposure perspective

IonActive’s radiation protection advisor Mark Ramsay puts a bit of perspective on the radiation exposures as a result of the explosions at the Japanese nuclear plant, Fukushima.

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Ionactive Consulting Blog

15/3/2011 – Nuclear events in Japan – Radiation Dose ‘high enough to effect human health’

Good morning all. Well it is 0400 on Tuesday morning in the UK and I find myself writing this before I get up (could not sleep). The reports coming in from Japan and specifically details about the Fukushima plants are disturbing – there is no denying that. I find myself looking at the story unfolding and having to concede that the state of the plants seem to worsening more than I would have speculated. Regardless of whether I am ‘pro nuclear’ or not, I am not going to jump into a hole and try and deny anything else.

The last few days, i.e. over the weekend and Monday (as it was an office day) I have found myself becoming quite involved in the media and watching closely what has been going on. From this point forward this will be harder to do as I am actually working (!) – I.e. client visits. So I will probably not be as up to speed as I would like regarding this evolving nuclear incident. However, before getting on the road I wanted to write down a few words about ‘dose’ because I think it is important (and the media is full of all sorts of values now).

Events in Japan

Before doing that, I would just like to point you to the following article on the Depleted Cranium website ‘While everyone was focused on the nuclear plant’. For me this article puts into focus the tragedy that is unfolding in Japan, even at a time when the nuclear issues appear to be worsening. I will let you read the article but some highlights on the site are:

  • 2800 confirmed dead
  • Many more missing and feared dead
  • Hospitals damaged (without electricity or water)
  • Infrastructure destroy (rationing of water / electricity etc)
  • Number homeless probably in the millions
  • Millions of businesses destroyed or out of action (including major world manufacturers)
  • Dam failures
  • Oil refinery fires
  • Etc
  • If you had been away on another planet and had just come back and picked up a newspaper, or turned on the news, you would be forgiven for linking the above tragic list of outcomes to the nuclear incident – not least because most of the media publications are almost 100% on the nuclear story. Now, I really am not downplaying the nuclear event (I don’t think you will find I have in the earlier posts if you read them carefully), but take a look at the list again and be clear that none of these were nuclear related.

    So, accepting that this is not nuclear related – what is then? Well clearly the issue is down to the health effects of ionising radiation. I do not have the time (or energy this morning) to provide a fully checked (and peer reviewed) description of the science surrounding health effects of radiation. The problem is that I can pick and choose from a multitude of training materials, but that simply does not work when you have such a potentially diverse audience. So what follows is a quick brain dump of ideas and thoughts, mixed with some media files (which are probably too detailed for the majority but I have nothing better).

    Critical persons exposed

    It is first important to consider who is being exposed and how. There are broadly two groups of people: nuclear plant workers and members of the public (I include general emergency workers, relief workers and the media in the second group). Those most likely to be exposed are clearly the plant workers – they are nearer to the plant than anyone else.

    Units of Dose

    This is where things can get a bit complicated (well at least in a short article such as this). What I am going to do is first direct you to two YouTube videos that I have had produced. If you cannot get YouTube because you are at work (etc) then sorry – perhaps you can catch them later. Parts 1 and 2 on Radiation Dose are below. Take your time over this and perhaps watch a few times.

    Read more at www.ionactive.co.uk


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