"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Monday, April 11, 2011

RADIATION: The good news?

     Found an interesting juxtaposition of facts on the Nuclear Energy Institute: Radiation in perspective website: 
--Americans receive about 310 millirem of radiation per year from natural background radiation.
--NRC has established that the dose limit for protecting public health is 100 millirem per year.

Excuse me? The maximum safe dose per year is 100 millirem and we're already getting more than three times that dose from our environment? Just reinforces the truth that any more is too much!  

Heart-rending news story: 
From Nuclear Energy Institute, April 10:
     "The Japan education ministry is expected this week to release radiation exposure safety guidelines for school children in areas outside the evacuation zone surrounding the power plant, the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum reported. The guidelines will require schools to suspend classes, stop outdoor lessons, or ensure students wear face masks if radiation surpasses certain levels." 
     I'm sure those little paper masks will keep out radiation as well as the lead aprons at the dentist and lead barriers in X-ray rooms at hospitals, don't you think? At least as well as the pathetic little paper caps mortally-exposed workers at Chernobyl wore as they battled radiation gushing from their wounded reactor.

But here's "good" news (good being relative, of course):
     On April 6 the level of radioactive iodine (iodine-131) around the Fukushima nuclear plant was 7.5 million times the legal limit, according to the Los Angeles Times. Iodine-131 has a halflife of 8 days. Now that the leak seems to be stopped we have the happy prospect that 8 days from April 6, the radiation levels will be down to only 3.75 million times the legal limit. Eight days after that it will be halved again--so that (help me here, Jerry) if you bought milk in Tokyo four days ago, it should be safe to drink sometime this coming October. 

     On the same date, radioactive cesium (caesium-137) emitted from the plant was 11 million times the legal limit. At a halflife of 30 years, the radioactivity in the cesium will gradually decay (as it spreads, albeit diluted, around the whole earth through wind and water currents) until by 2043 it will finally be only 5.5 million times the level safe for human beings. 
     If there are NO MORE releases of cesium-137 into the sea or atmosphere from any source between now and then, we will get back to normal background levels of cesium-137 by the year 2701.    

Is there anyone out there--anyone sane--who still thinks trying to harness nuclear power to run our electric lights and computers is worth our global health?  

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