Radiation facts and myths

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by rfisher, Mar 14, 2011.

  1. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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  2. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for all the educated, caring members who are willing to share their expertise with us on this issue.
    I'm learning so much.
  3. rfisher

    rfisher Satisfied skating fan

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    It's brief but accurate. The only thing I'd comment on is that the levels of leukemia were actually greater % wise than thyroid ca at Chernobyl. Not that that is good news since thyroid ca is quite treatable. Leukemia requires bone marrow transplants which are iffy. But, otherwise it is correct. One caveat about the potential genetic effects, to date, there is no documented evidence of radiation induced genetic effects in humans. This includes both the Japanese and Chernobyl data, particularly the Japanese. This may be the consequence that a germ cell (egg or sperm) that was sufficiently damaged by radiation is not likely to either survive or divide correctly.
  4. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    That's my biggest issue too.

    Last year I visited the Death Valley National Park from Las Vegas, and was surprised to hear that the local people want that dump site (Yucca Mountain) because it will bring money to their state.

    I wish there was an economical way to process the radioactive waste. At the local (Arizona) nuclear power plant I was told they just store it on site, surrounded by heavy concrete walls. How long can they keep doing that? At some point something will need to be done about all the radioactive waste.

    I remember reading sometime back that the option to shoot it out into space was being considered. Do you know anything about that?
  5. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    I second that.
  6. rfisher

    rfisher Satisfied skating fan

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    No, but given what's happened in Japan with things no one anticipated, I can just envision a saturn rocket loaded with radioactive waste exploding on launch.

    Power generation is a real conundrum. Coal powered plants are bad because of emissions, oil is limited, water requires damning major rivers, wind has it's own issues. There's no really good solution.
  7. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    Yes. I work on air quality, and get to read about everything that's related to it, including energy/power generation. I have resisted nuclear power for a long time because of the radioactive waste problem. We as the human race (at least part of it) have abused our resources for generations and now the time is ripe to pay for it.:(
  8. numbers123

    numbers123 Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for saying that wind has it's own issues. My brother and his friends are spouting that (we) deserve what (we) got and that the only way to go is green, i.e. solar and wind.
  9. MacMadame

    MacMadame Internet Beyotch

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    I also think that what the tornado created is more in line with the TARDIS than a shiny jet. It's a jumble of stuff that does much more than you'd expect from the creaking and whining but, if you were to actually design it from scratch, you'd make the system much less complex and less jury-rigged.
  10. 4rkidz

    4rkidz GPF Barcelona here I come

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    I have a questions about genetic effects from radiation... many decades ago my Father commissioned a study because of abnormal amount of births with deformities - we lived beside a nuclear power plant and there was a leak.. the whole thing was hushed up and the place even changed its name.. and my dad's study - the funding was stopped.. but what started this was the number of live births with deformities and the peak in the number of miscarriages during the first year after the 'leak'.. the place was called 'windscale' - but after the final leak changed its name... I know years later there were further studies but they focused on cancer.. are you aware of any studies on genetic effects - not necessarily on the sperm but the woman in the first trimester?
  11. 4rkidz

    4rkidz GPF Barcelona here I come

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    my family members live right beside tons of wind farms.. my brother doesn't even notice the noise anymore.. they are beside him.. ditto for rest of family.. for me - at first found them unsettling like a Dr. Who episode :scream: But now am so used to them doesn't bother me anymore.. what about natural gas?? or do those clean burning fossil places actually work?? Quite confusing these days..:confused:
  12. rfisher

    rfisher Satisfied skating fan

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    The types of things you're describing sound like congenital defects that occurred during fetal development, not genetic as in a mutation in an egg or sperm cell that is carried into the next generation. The data from Japan clearly demonstrated congenital defects and spontaneous abortions. Based on that data and animal studies, researchers know there are critical points in fetal development that high doses of radiation can cause specific types of deformities. While nobody says there are no genetic effects in humans because they are theoretically possible and can be demonstrated in animals. However, none were documented in the Japanese population after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If they were a significant consequence of radiation exposure, they should have been present in that population source.
  13. 4rkidz

    4rkidz GPF Barcelona here I come

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    oh thanks.. I was an arts major at grad school :shuffle: that makes sense.. thank you so much for taking the time to do this :cool:
  14. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    CNG or natural gas (and other renewable energies) is definitely one of the alt fuels being used more. Here is a helpful link about different types of energies. Near the bottom of the page there is a link to natural gas basics. That should answer some of your questions.

    http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/fuels/natural_gas.html

    Another one:

    (Look under renewable energy)

    http://www.eere.energy.gov/

    There are many clean energy alternatives that need to be developed further. When used in combination, they could help our planet. That's why I am not high on nuclear energy, although long ago (before these energies came up) I would have supported nuclear.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2011
  15. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    Here in Arizona, at work, we were sent an email to answer any questions about radiation. I am surprised that people are even concerned here, considering how far we are from Fukushima, but this must be SOP (to inform employees).

    www.azein.gov

    I found the FAQ thread quite useful. Those are simple questions (many were already answered by RFisher), and the links they have provided are very good. It will take me a while to get through those. The only link I regularly access is the EPA one, since I work in that field.

    What really surprised me- about radiation treatment -was that they use Prussian Blue to treat some of the radiation damages to the body. May be RFisher mentioned it, but I somehow missed that. I have used that color in my paintings, and I was shocked to read that it is used in treating radiation (under medical supervision, of course).
  16. rfisher

    rfisher Satisfied skating fan

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    Possibly to treat skin burns? I don't know. It would only be useful to treat acute radiation syndrome which occurs from a whole body exposure. It would have no effect on long term consequences (cancer and cataractogenesis). ARS is divided into 3 syndromes which are dependent on dose. The first is hematologic and is totally dose dependent. The second is GI and is fatal. However, this is related to extremely high dose. The third is neurologic and is also fatal, but is also extremely high dose.

    If there are *high* levels of exposure, they would not be high enough to cause any but the hematologic syndrome which is treatable with medical intervention. The dose that would even theoretically impact the US wouldn't reach the level of any of these. The others pretty much require that the individual is at ground zero.
  17. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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  18. Dave of the North

    Dave of the North Well-Known Member

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    Here's a site which has updates on the situation plus general information about the reactors, radiation and the effects thereof.

    http://mitnse.com/
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  19. Yehudi

    Yehudi Well-Known Member

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    This site measures radiation levels in real time.

    http://www.bousai.ne.jp/eng/index.html

    And this is spreadsheet keeps the tracked data. Quite an interesting read. You can see the spikes during the two fires but the radiation levels haven't changed much (if any) since the fires were put out.

    https://spreadsheets.google.com/lv?key=0AqRrTmNrEqx0dGdYdTg2c0FjU2txTlZieUNvb0hfQnc

    ETA: He doesn't have the 3/15 data on the google docs sheet anymore but I believe he keeps it in CSV format (which can be opened in Excel) on his site

    http://www.sendung.de/
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  20. FigureSpins

    FigureSpins New Member

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    That's amazing. The possible side effects: Blue tongue and mouth (if not swallowed whole), blue stool, constipation and stomach upset.

    After they get out of the hospital, the nuclear plant workers deserve a three-month detox stay in a fancy spa.
  21. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    Great links. Thanks.
  22. Lainerb

    Lainerb New Member

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    I am concerned about the effects of radiation on the environment and how it may impact sea, plant, fungi and animal life. I am an avid forager and being in Alaska I am certaintly worried about how this will impact my ability to harvest such food sources as sea vegetables, and fungi especially which intake a lot from the environment. I am not very scienftically inclined, so it would be nice to have some insight from anyone here on the possible implications of this horrific disaster.
  23. BittyBug

    BittyBug Quadless

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    This situation is obviously not Chernobyl (yet, and let's hope it doesn't get even close to that), but I remember seeing a documentary called Chernobyl Heart (you can watch it online in this link) that focused on the impact of the incident on local residents. In one scene in which local residents were coming into some type of clinic for routine monitoring, they were trying to figure out why one of the patients was either sick or had high levels of radiation (can't remember). So they asked him what he was eating, and no surprise since Russians and Ukranians are big foragers, the patient mentioned eating mushrooms and making jams from wild berries. So they asked the patient to bring in some samples and when they held up a jar of some type of home-made berry jam next to a Geiger counter, the needle just went off the chart.

    Now, these were local residents in the immediate vicinity of Chernobyl, and Alaska, while closer to Japan than many people realize, is not exactly next door to the affected area, so unless the incident really takes a horrific turn for the worse, it seems unlikely that ground contamination by you would reach any significant levels. But I am very concerned about the impact of this event on the ocean, whence so much life stems. We've seen how pervasive mercury contamination can be in large fish. Could this be worse?
  24. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    As I understand it, the Japanese, the US, and international agencies have said that, at this point, the radiation is only at harmful levels within the plant itself, with occasional increases in radiation within the immediate area of the plant. So as of this moment, this doesn't seem to be a danger.
  25. MarieM

    MarieM Well-Known Member

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    So far, whatever remains of the shields is helping keep most of the radio elements.
    The only problem is the spent fuel rods in the pool. These could be more than dangerous :(
  26. rfisher

    rfisher Satisfied skating fan

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    There will be little to no impact on the oceans. Do you have any idea how much radioactive material has been dumped in the oceans? Russian sinks nuclear subs, radioactive waste has been dumped. Yet, the oceans have absorbed it. The output from Japan will be nothing. The impact on land beyond the immediate area will be no more than from Chernobyl or the many above ground nuclear tests. In fact, it will be substantially less unless each of those reactors has a huge explosion sending tons of material into the air. That has not happened and hopefully will not. Godzilla will not rise from the seas.
  27. millipied

    millipied New Member

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  28. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

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  29. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Port de bras!!!

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    I'd like to see the studies she is referring to. They all seem to be correlations that are not the same as causation. For instance, in the case of women with TB and repeated Xrays, how do we know it's not some other factor, like for example TB itself that has anti-cancer properties? Or it could be something else they have in common like a susceptibility to TB that's riding on the same gene complex as anti-cancer gene? Could be lots of other explanations.
  30. BittyBug

    BittyBug Quadless

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    Well in that case, we have nothing to worry about. :saint:
  31. Doubletoe

    Doubletoe Well-Known Member

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    First of all, THANK YOU to rfisher for your objective, informative posts! :respec:
    I have been furiously reading up on this stuff from various sources and everything I am learning points to exactly what you are saying: No impact on the U.S. West Coast, or even most of Japan itself.

    Earlier today, I also found a list of radiation readings by Japanese prefecture and city, then did some math:
    Current radiation level in Tokyo: 0.05 μSv/hour (vs. normal of 0.03)
    Spending a year at that radiation level would give you 438 μSv.
    One mammogram gives you 300 μSv.

    So to measure the impact of that radiation cloud on the someone standing on the beach in California, spread 1.5 mammograms across 5,000 miles of ocean. :p

    IIRC, no significant radiation from Chernobyl reached the U.S. East Coast, and the amount of radiation emitted from that disaster into the upper atmosphere was greater than even the worst case scenario for the Fukushima plant at this point. What Americans should have really been concerned about were all of the nuclear tests that went on in Nevada in the 50's and 60's!
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2011
  32. rfisher

    rfisher Satisfied skating fan

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    I love Godzilla. I use him/her as a metaphor all the time. :shuffle: There is bad Godzilla who stomped Tokyo in the 50s as the example of the danger of radiation, then there is good Godzilla who fought Mothra and saved Tokyo in the 60s. Then there's Godzilla in NYC who was sort of bad and had that cute little Chihuahua who called here, lizard, lizard. But, she was only bad because the evil Americans were stealing her eggs.

    And just for those who worry about mutations such as Godzilla, :rofl: , radiation does not produce any new mutations. Large doses may only accelerate the rate of naturally occurring mutations. Mueller demonstrated this back in the 40s with his fruit fly experiments in genetics.
  33. BittyBug

    BittyBug Quadless

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    TBH, I wasn't thinking about mutations. My (ignorant) question was more about whether radiation levels can build up through the food chain (similar to what happens with mercury). So many little fish with slightly higher than normal radiation levels are eaten by a bigger fish, and several of these fish are in turn eaten by an even bigger fish, etc. - could this lead to larger fish having significantly higher than normal radiation levels? I'm guessing from your prior answer that the answer is "no."
  34. Doubletoe

    Doubletoe Well-Known Member

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    This just in. . . http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704713004576209092999139786.html
    Also, the FDA will be scanning all food imports from Japan for radiation (good for those like me, who shop at the Japanese supermarkets for my favorite goodies!).
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  35. BittyBug

    BittyBug Quadless

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  36. Civic

    Civic New Member

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    One of the things I like about FSU is the posters who are experts in one field or the other. We have physicians, artists, teachers, attorneys, etc. :)
  37. rfisher

    rfisher Satisfied skating fan

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    Theoretically, it would be possible, but it would depend on a lot of factors including the type of radioactive particles. And it would have to come from radioactive particles not the gamma radiation currently being found. They are just high energy, short wave length electromagnetic radiation (like UV light or X-ray only with more energy). That energy is dissipated as it passes through matter. Radioactive particles which would be a big concern if those exposed rods were to explode are a different matter as they could have a very long half-life. Uranium-235, for example, has a half-life of 700 million years, or cesium-137 has a half-life of 30 years. One of the consequences of the above ground nuclear testing by the Russians was the strontium-90 (hl app 90 years) that entered the atmosphere. It feel to the earth in rain and was taken up in grass. Cattle ate the grass and there was concern about strontium levels in milk. To my knowledge, there were no documented cases of long term effect, although, it would be impossible to ascertain if someone who drank tons of milk and developed cancer did so from the strontium or from other causes. Strontium replaces calcium so the concern was the development of bone cancer.

    So, if plankton were to somehow absorb sufficient quanties of some radioisotope, it could theoretically move up the food chain. To my knowledge that hasn't been documented after even the US atomic bomb tests in the South Pacific and those were large quanties of radioactive material in the explosions. If a fish was exposed to large quantites of radioactive particles, it would die rather quickly. Oooohhh, I just remembered another great movie about the evils of the atomic bomb that had huge mutant crabs. Scared the crap out me when I was a kid.
  38. BittyBug

    BittyBug Quadless

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    Indeed. I usually read the news sources, and then I check FSU for the real truth.

    And thanks, rfisher, for the detailed explanation. :)
  39. Lainerb

    Lainerb New Member

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    Thanks for the input everyone. I will be at the beach on Monday during my break and will harvest the bounties of the sea without fear of radiation. I have been craving fresh sea vegetables since the dead of winter and I cannot wait. Perhaps I can make a :bribe: or two with the raise in demand for seaweed.
  40. Angelskates

    Angelskates Active Member

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    WHO Rep just on CCTV News has said there is no dangerous radiation spread. Even when asked about what those in Japan should do, he said, paraphrased, since there is no dangerous radiation spread, pay attention to the national authorities and reputable organisations, and don't listen to rumors. Say informed onlt through reputable organisations and national authorities. There is no need to do anything more, no need to take any iodine etc.