Via Naked Capitalism:

I wrote to radiation expert Dr. Chris Busby to ask him if he thought people living outside of Japan should take any actions to try to reduce their radiation exposure:

Epidemiologist Dr. Wing thinks people outside of Japan shouldn’t do anything to attempt to reduce radiation exposure: Leading Epidemiologist: Instead of Trying to Avoid Japanese Radiation, Put Your Energy Into Demanding a Saner Energy Policy

But the French anti-nuclear NGO CRIIAD says that pregnant women and infants should take steps to reduce exposure: French Nuclear Group Warns that Children and Pregnant Mothers Should Protect Themselves from Radiation

I’ve also researched the scientific literature, and found that antioxidants can help a little:Can Vitamins or Herbs Help Protect Us from Radiation?

What’s your advice for people outside of Japan?

Professor Busby replied:

I attach my “don’t panic” paper. However, since then I have re-thought this advice as the thing is still fissioning and releasing 10 to the fourteen becquerels a day. This will mean that Sr-90 [strontium 90] and Uranium and particulates will be building up in the USA and Europe. I will assess this later but for now I think it prudent to stop drinking milk.

Now, I just happened to stumble across this Japanese blog, and he’s doing his own translations from various sources. He points out that, via this blog, the radiation release is 154 terabecquerels per day.

The Nuclear Safety Commission under the Prime Minister’s Office disclosed on April 23 that the amount of radioactive materials being released from the TEPCO Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant was 154 terabecquerels per day (1 tera is 1 trillion) as late as April 5 when the amount being released was considered stabilized.

On April 5, the estimated amount of radioactive materials released from Fukushima I Nuke Plant was 0.69 terabecquerels/hour for iodine-131 and 0.14 terabecquerels/hour for cesium-137. When the numbers were recalculated according to the INES method (converting cesium amount into iodine equivalent), the amount released turned out to be 6.4 terabecquerels/hour (which was 154 terabecquerels per day. Previously, the Nuclear Safety Commission had simply added the numbers for iodine-131 and cesium-137, and announced it was less than 1 terrabecquerel per hour.

But wait, there’s more. Remember, radiation is cumulative.

Now, there’s another interesting (but all too common by now) work of editing out some unpleasant information, no doubt practiced by the 4th column (the media) by themselves for the good of the community (no doubt). The earlier version of the same Yomiuri article (which I found on a Japanese message board) had the following sentence after where the current version ends:

If this amount [154 terabecquerels per day] continues to be released from the plant, it would be the equivalent of INES Level 6. [154 terabequerels per day for 90 days = 13,860 terabequerels.]

Now, I’m not going to tell you I can vouch for any of these bloggers. Obviously, I can’t. And I certainly don’t know how to calculate any of these. But I do know when I smell a rat, and it’s clear that we’re not getting the real story. So stop drinking milk.

5 thoughts on “Advice

  1. The most important advice to reduce radiation exposure: “Instead of Trying to Avoid Japanese Radiation, Put Your Energy Into Demanding a Saner Energy Policy.”

    Given the radiation we’ve been pumping into the biosphere for decades, the added dose from FD for you in Pennsylvania is really (really!) no big deal. You’re getting a higher dose from the local coal industry and ground radium. I’m in California, on the coast, and even here, FD is not a big deal here either. The way to lower the dose is to have a sane energy policy. Everything else is nanopotatoes.

    Supplements are directly useful by preventing the body from incorporating radioactive elements instead of what it really needs. With enough good iodine, uptake of radioactive iodine is much reduced. Strontium is used in place of calcium, so adequate calcium in the diet prevents uptake of strontium. Etc. Vit. C, E, B, and the like aren’t directly related to radiation issues. By helping with general health, they help your body repair radiation damage, but they don’t reduce your exposure.

  2. Where does Pennsylvania milk come from? What is the half-life of strontium, anyway? When will cheese become affected?

  3. PA milk comes from PA cows. They graze in fields all over the state between Philly & Pittsburgh. I”m wondering if SOY MILK would be any safer, and I bet not, since the plants grow out in the same fields as the grass…this is all moot, since the rain washes into ALL of the water supply anyway. I sent this on to my friends and family who have young children, I hope I did not cause any undue fear but I felt I would have been lax in NOT sending it.
    I’ve been fighting a MAJOR depression since Day 1 of the Japan Nuclear Disaster, telling all of my friends that we were NOT getting the real information because it WOULD cause widespread panic. I try not to think too hard about it anymore, as worry cannot change outcome.

  4. Oh jesus christ.
    How practical is it to stop drinking milk with two toddlers in the house?
    Go to soy for the benefit of its estrogen analogues?
    Stop drinking milk? Are you serious and you’d better get some more sources upon which to base that advice.

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