Friday, August 17, 2012

They Sound Like They Were Hoping For More. Radiation.

They just can't seem to push this story to the "OMG!!! RADIATION!!!" level of hysteria. They sound almost disappointed. First study reports very low internal radioactivity after Fukushima disaster - The Washington Post.

It's like they keep hoping for a Chernobyl-like outcome. (While the Japanese were in denial at first, they were not in the same universe of denial as the Soviet Union was.)

Japanese researchers have found very low amounts of radioactivity in the bodies of about 10,000 people who lived near the Fukushima Daiichi power plant when it melted down. The first published study that measured the radiation within a large number of residents reassured health experts because the numbers reported imply only negligible health risks. The threat appeared to be considerably lower than in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident, the experts agreed.

And unlike so many of the OMG!!! Radiation!!! stories, they actually give some hard data.

The study measured radiation in 8,066 adults and 1,432 children in the town of Minamisoma, about 14 miles north of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. Researchers found an average radiation dose of well under 1 millisievert, which is considered a safe amount.

Since the global average for background radiation is 2.4 millisieverts per year, I would hope they consider it safe. (Some locations are much more radioactive than average....) I mean be fair, are they going to evacuate the planet because there is some radiation. You couldn't go anywhere that is free of radiation, since it rains down on us from space.

That thing about "detectible radiation"... we can detect absurdly small amounts of radiation. Bananas set off the radiation alarms in ports. Because bananas contain stupidly small amounts of radiation.

The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, (That is official Japanese name for the disaster) and the subsequent problems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant constitute a disaster and a tragedy. That doesn't mean we should make things worse through ignorance of radiation, its effects, and remediation. We certainly shouldn't set public policy based on fear and ignorance. That is of course exactly what we do.

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