Monday, March 21, 2011
Hawaii’s radiation monitors won’t catch what’s inside your gut
by Larry Geller
It’s hard to know whether the ill wind blowing from the Fukushima nuclear reactors to Hawaii really poses a threat, or if it will in the future, should more radioactive material be released from the damaged reactors.
The claims of governments here and in Japan that present levels of radiation are safe don’t reassure me. My trust in government, especially in Hawaii’s Department of Health, is quite low. I have my reasons, but for now, let’s look at what they’ve said so far.
It seems that there are radiation sensors on the DOH roof and there are more coming to Hawaii soon. Great.
But while radiation impinging on us is important to measure, it doesn’t even begin to estimate the threat to human health posed by radioactive materials that might be ingested.
It’s one thing to be x-rayed and another thing to eat contaminated food. The difference is clear: when the dentist is done taking your x-ray, you don’t get bombarded with any more radiation. It’s over with. When you drink milk contaminated with radioactive strontium, or you eat lettuce sprinkled with radioactive iodine, that stuff goes right into your body and radiates your organs from inside, over time. The iodine is concentrated in the thyroid, for example. It’s a “gift” that keeps on giving.
So our DOH, the Japanese, the IAEA, and WHO are measuring radiation. What I want to know is what’s happening to my lettuce. Is it just glowing inside the dark fridge when the door is closed, or is it lighting up my stomach from the inside?
Thanks to Shannon Rudolph for her link to this article: ECRR Risk Model and radiation from Fukushima. It’s right on-point to this issue. It addresses the problem of cancer clusters that are not due to direct external radiation exposure but to stuff we eat or drink.
Here is an example snipped from this report:
Example 2. : External doses measured by a Geiger counter increased from 100nSv/h to 500nSv/h. What is the risk from a weeks exposure? Because the external dose is only a flag for the internal dose we assume that this is the internal ICRP dose from the range of radionuclides released which include radiodines, radiocaesium, plutonium and uranium particles, tritium etc. A weeks exposure is thus 400 x 10-9 x 24 x 7days or 6.72 x 10-5 Sv . We multiply by 600 to get the ECRR dose which is 0.04Sv and then by 0.1 to get the lifetime cancer risk which is 0.4%. Thus in this case, in 1000 individuals exposed for a week at this level, 4 will develop cancer because of this exposure. In 30 million, the population of Tokyo, this would result in 120,000 cancers in the next 50 years. The ICRP risk model would predict 100 cancers from the same exposure. Again we should expect to see a rise in cancer in the 10 years following the exposure. This is due to early clinical expression of pre-cancerous genomes.
The Japanese government reports that there is radiation coming from food, but pronounces the level safe. Is it?
The problem for us ordinary citizens is that our government experts are reporting only the simplistic measurements of their rooftop radiation counters. Whether they are studying the effects on crops, water and foodstuffs, we don’t know. And we need to know that, even if the answer is that there really is not much to worry about.
More than just worry, we should try and find our own sources of information.
Oh, and we might also think whether the concerns of Big Island activists over the danger posed by depleted uranium should be taken a lot more seriously. Who wants that stuff inside us, in addition to whatever substances might blow our way from Japan.
And don't forget Schofield, probably Makua, and possibly other locations also have long lasting, depleted uranium contamination, along with many other live fire training ranges across the country and world. Too bad no one is monitoring any of these sites properly. Shannon
Great post Larry,
Its time to review that Rat video if anyone feels all warms and fuzzy about how well the Health department (who we pay their wages by taxes and also fund their services through pass through costs of regulated agencies and such, ie permit fees)
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