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 Radiation Risk after Fukushima: Know and reduce your risk using available data

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MessageSujet: Radiation Risk after Fukushima: Know and reduce your risk using available data   Mar 13 Sep 2011 - 16:52

The purpose of the present document is three fold. First, it aims to provide a simple calculation method (simple arithmetic equations) to estimate the cumulative radiation dose received by a human body. Second, it discusses how the radioactivity from Cs isotopes in food products could continue in the subsequent years and months and how such risks (environmental and health) may be reduced. For this purpose, only the Cs isotopes are considered as these are the predominant radioactive pollutants in the air, soil and marine environment today and in the next 50 years or longer.* Lastly, health risks from excessive radioactive element accumulations in body (Cs, and other heavier elements) that have been reported in medical journals are discussed.

Anybody who owns a calculator can estimate the radiation dose received both externally and internally and see if he/she is at risk of developing radiation related ailments. It should also become clear thatthere are precautionary measures against exposure to radioactive elements to help reduce the subsequent health risks. The readers must keep in mind that the calculation models presented here contain many appr oximations and are not adequate for those exposed to intense radioactivity (e.g., emergency workers at the power plant, liquidators, etc.).

At present the highest attention is given to the cancer and genetic disorder risks due to an excessive radiation dose to the human body. However, there exist self-reported chronic symptoms such as chest pain, headache, irritability, etc., among those living near Chernobyl with high 137Cs burden. These people have been continuously exposed to 137Cs since the time of the accident through the air they breathe as well as through the contaminated food they consume. Although the cause-and-effect relationship between the presence of 137Cs in ones’ body and these symptoms are not clear, example findings of such subjective complaints and the Cs burden levels associated are given in the last chapter.

It should also be noted that the isotopes of heavy elements such as Pu and Am are chemically highly toxic in addition to being strongly radioactive (alpha emitters, rather than gamma). Luckily, these elements are so far rarely found outside of the immediate proximity of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and therefore the health risks associated with them will not be discussed in the present document. That being said, the local authorities should continue to monitor for Pu, Am, etc., and alert the public if such elements are detected.

Sawako Nakamae

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