Tag Archives | Radiation

Killing the Unborn … With Radiation

UnicornVia Washington’s Blog:

Preface: I am not against all nuclear power, solely the unsafe type we have today.

The harmful affect of radiation on fetuses has been known for decades.

As nuclear expert Robert Alvarez — a senior U.S. Department of Energy official during the Clinton administration — and journalists Harvey Wasserman and Norman Solomon wrote in 1982 in a book called Killing Our Own:

In recent years controversy has arisen over the particular vulnerability of infants in utero and small children to the ill-effects of radiation. Exposure of the fetus to radiation during all stages of pregnancy increases the chances of developing leukemia and childhood cancers. Because their cells are dividing so rapidly, and because there are relatively so few of them involved in the vital functions of the body in the early stages, embryos are most vulnerable to radiation in the first trimester particularly in the first two weeks after conception.

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Radiation Risks From Fukushima ‘No Longer Negligible’

From 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 behaviour,” such as consuming fresh milk or vegetables with large leaves.


In response to thousands of inquiries from citizens concerned about fallout from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Europe, CRIIRAD has compiled an information package on the risks of radioactive iodine-131 contamination in Europe.

The document, published on 7 April, advises against consuming rainwater and says vulnerable groups such as children and pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid consuming vegetables with large leaves, fresh milk and creamy cheese.

The risks related to prolonged contamination among vulnerable groups of the population can no longer be considered “negligible” and it is now necessary to avoid “risky behaviour,” CRIIRAD claimed.

However, the institute underlines that there is absolutely no need to lock oneself indoors or take iodine tablets.

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Why Are Bananas Radioactive?

MonkeyBananaF-ing Bananas! Esther Inglis-Arkell clarifies on io9.com:

The chart of relative doses of radioactivity that appeared on io9 yesterday set many minds at ease, but also raised questions. Questions like, “Why do you get dosed with radioation when eating a banana?”

The chart, created by XKCD’s Randall Munroe, was intended to show people the realistic danger of the recent leaks at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan. Contact with radioactive substances is just a part of everyday activities like taking a flight, sleeping next to someone, or eating a banana. But wait. Sure, airplanes and x-rays expose people to radiation, but eating a banana? Why a banana? And how? Sure, the dose is low – one banana will only expose someone to one ten millionth of a sievert – but there must be something about them to get them on that chart.

It turns out that using bananas to measure doses of radiation has precedent.

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Michio Kaku: Fukushima Is A ‘Ticking Time Bomb’

From Democracy Now! 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."
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Radiation Detected In Drinking Water Across The U.S.

Radiation warning symbolJeff McMahon writes for Forbes:

Radiation from Japan has been detected in drinking water in 13 more American cities, and cesium-137 has been found in American milk—in Montpelier, Vermont—for the first time since the Japan nuclear disaster began, according to data released by the Environmental Protection Agency late Friday.

Milk samples from Phoenix and Los Angeles contained iodine-131 at levels roughly equal to the maximum contaminant level permitted by EPA, the data shows. The Phoenix sample contained 3.2 picoCuries per liter of iodine-131. The Los Angeles sample contained 2.9. The EPA maximum contaminant level is 3.0, but this is a conservative standard designed to minimize exposure over a lifetime, so EPA does not consider these levels to pose a health threat.

The cesium-137 found in milk in Vermont is the first cesium detected in milk since the Fukushima-Daichi nuclear accident occurred last month. The sample contained 1.9 picoCuries per liter of cesium-137, which falls under the same 3.0 standard.

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Fish For Dinner? Bring Your Geiger Counter

Photo: Librado Romero/The New York Times

Photo: Librado Romero/The New York Times

I ate sushi last night at the extraordinary Japanese restaurant Sushi of Gari. Now that I’ve read this story by William Neuman and Florence Fabricant in the New York Times I’m wishing I’d brought along a Geiger counter. The photo is essential, so NYT, we hereby claim fair use:

Eric Ripert, the chef of Le Bernardin, the high temple of seafood in Manhattan, bought a new kitchen gadget a few days ago: a radiation detector.

“I just want to make sure whatever we use is safe,” said Mr. Ripert, whose staff is using the device to screen every item of food that enters the restaurant, regardless of its origin. He has also stopped buying fish from Japan, which means no high-quality, farm-raised hamachi and kampachi for raw seafood dishes.

“Nobody knows how the currents will carry the contaminated water,” he said.

Despite assurances by health officials that radiation from the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan is unlikely to show up in the food supply, worries about contaminated foods are growing among consumers, businesses and governments across the globe.

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Inside Report: Fukushima’s Nuclear Evacuation Zone

Fukushima, Japan - The Japanese government issued an evacuation order on March 12 for residents living within the 20 kilometer radius of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Since then, residents have left their homes, and the "no man land" has been out of touch with the rest of the world. A Japanese journalist, Tetsuo Jimbo, ventured through the evacuation zone last Sunday, and filed the following video report. He says that inside the evacuation zone, homes, buildings, roads and bridges, which were torn down by the tsunami, are left completely untouched, and the herd of cattle and pet dogs, left behind by the owners, wanders around the town while the radiation level remains far beyond legal limits.
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The New York Times Let The Truth Slip Out on the Radiation in Japan

RadiationFlashes of extremely intense radioactivity have become a serious problem, he said. Tokyo Electric’s difficulties in providing accurate information on radiation are not a result of software problems, as some Japanese officials have suggested, but stem from damage to measurement instruments caused by radiation, the executive said. It's at the end of this NY Times article:
Still, concerns about the plant remain high. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission speculated Wednesday that some of the core of the No. 2 reactor had flowed from its steel pressure vessel into the bottom of the containment structure. The theory implies more damage at the unit than previously believed. While a spokeswoman for Tokyo Electric dismissed the analysis, a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency of Japan agreed that it was possible that the core had leaked into the larger containment vessel. The possibility raised new questions. The Nuclear Regulator Commission said that its speculation about the flow of core material out of the reactor vessel would explain high radiation readings in an area underneath, called the drywell. But some of the radiation readings at Reactors Nos. 1 and 3 over the last week were nearly as high as or higher than the 3,300 rems per hour that the commission said it was trying to explain, so it would appear that the speculation would apply to them as well. At No. 2, extremely radioactive material continues to ooze out of the reactor pressure vessel, and the leak is likely to widen with time, a western nuclear executive asserted.
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Episodes Of ‘The Simpsons’ To Be Edited Following Japanese Nuclear Crisis

Simpsons Radioactive?Via Entertainment Weekly:

Japan’s nuclear power plant crisis is no laughing matter in Springfield: Networks in several European countries are reportedly reviewing episodes of “The Simpsons” for any “unsuitable” references to nuclear disaster.

An Austrian network has apparently pulled two eps, 1992’s “Marge Gets a Job” and 2005’s “On a Clear Day I Can’t See My Sister,” which include jokes about radiation poisoning and nuclear meltdowns, respectively.

Al Jean — exec producer of the animated Fox comedy featuring inept family man/nuclear power plant worker Homer Simpson — tells EW that he can appreciate the concern.

“We have 480 episodes, and if there are a few that they don’t want to air for awhile in light of the terrible thing going on, I completely understand that,” says Jean, citing the previous example of the 1997 episode “Homer Versus the City of New York” that was pulled after 9/11 because it included key scenes at the World Trade Center.

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