- I get it.
- How bad is radiation anyway?
- How ‘hot’ is Chernobyl?
- What about Fukushima?
- Evacuation stress has killed more than the radiation would have!
- They’re resettling the 20 mSv zones
- What about the natural radiation at RAMSAR!?
1. I get it.
2. How bad is radiation anyway?
Before we look at the numbers, let’s remember that if it wasn’t for uranium and thorium, life on earth would not exist. They keep the earth’s core hot and spinning which powers the magnetic field that protects the atmosphere from being blown away! If you ever wished uranium did not exist, you just wished away life on earth. Natural uranium breaks down into radon gas that leaks out of the ground and gently irradiates us: just a little. This happens without human interference. This is called natural background radiation and it is all around us.
Because there are 3 types of radiation (alpha, beta and gamma) and they hit the body in different ways, scientists have broken down the effect of radiation on the body into an equivalent unit called Sieverts.
- A Sievert is dangerous
- 8 Sieverts will kill you
- But milliSieverts are used to measure medical procedures that can save your life, and are also used to describe the natural background radiation in units per annum. The average natural dose is 2.4 mSv per year
- MicroSieverts (μSv, or millionths of a Sievert) measure daily exposure levels.
- How much radiation is too much? A handy guide.
- Charles Sturt University’s “Radiation Safety Committee” says that around the world some rare places have 50 milli-Sieverts (50 mSv) a year of natural radiation, with no discernible health impacts.
- 50 mSv per year. Remember that number.
- This means that areas hit by radiation 25 times higher than the average natural background radiation are still relatively harmless.
3. So how ‘hot’ is Chernobyl?
So why did they evacuate Chernobyl? Worldwide, government policy about radiation has been influenced by a few suspicious papers decades ago that simply assumed there was no safe lower level of radiation. It’s an assumption extrapolated mathematically down to very low levels of radiation that is often not verified by empirical science. It’s called the Linear No Threshold model and just assumes there is no safe lower level. Many scientific academies now question whether this old mathematical model survives modern scientific observation. (See my LNT page). But because of some scientific power plays back in the day, it’s the model that informs government policy. It is behind the ‘guesstimate’ that the 1986 Chernobyl disaster will eventually kill 4,000 people. The reality may be far, far lower. As the wiki says:
“The number of potential deaths arising from the Chernobyl disaster is heavily debated. The WHO‘s prediction of 4000 future cancer deaths in surrounding countries is based on the Linear no-threshold model (LNT), which assumes that the damage inflicted by radiation at low doses is directly proportional to the dose. Radiation epidemiologist Roy Shore contends that estimating health effects in a population from the LNT model “is not wise because of the uncertainties”
In comparison, coal kills 2.7 million people a year, or nearly 52,000 people a week! Even by the over-conservative ‘no safe limit’ model, coal kills about 2 Chernobyls every day! But that’s based on the LNT. It turns out the 1,200 ‘babushka’s of Chernobyl’ who returned to live there shorty after being evacuated are outliving those who left! It seems evacuation stress is worse than radiation.
The side effects on nature are interesting. Evacuating the Chernobyl area has created an unintended wildlife sanctuary where nature is thriving. It appears nature can endure the presence of a little extra radiation far better than it can if we were there! The Ukraine plan on leaving it abandoned for another 200 years, but in reality they could move back into the area, and probably only quarantine the ‘red forest’ area that was most exposed to more fallout.
4. What about Fukushima?
So what about Fukushima? As The Breakthrough Institute says:-
Let’s crunch the numbers. UNSCEAR estimated the average radiation doses that would have been incurred inside the 20-kilometer evacuation zone in the first year after the accident, had there been no evacuation: the highest was Tomioka township’s 51 millisieverts.8 The Committee also reckoned that 80-year lifetime doses in contaminated areas will be two to three times the first-year dose. (Radiation levels drop quickly because of radioactive decay and weathering.)9From there we can reckon the dose people would have received from fallout had they lived their whole lives in the evacuation zone: about 100-150 mSv in the most contaminated townships, substantially less elsewhere in the zone. Natural background radiation in the United States averages about 2.4 mSv per year, so 150 mSv is about equal to the lifetime background dose of a typical American.
Others estimate about 20 mSv / year. Either way, it’s lower than Charles Sturt’s natural hot spots at 50 mSv / year! Indeed, The Breakthrough Institute says that thyroid cancer rates are lower in Fukushima children than other areas, the seafood is safe to eat, the evacuation zone is mostly habitable, and the Fukushima death toll will be too small to measure.
5. Evacuation stress has killed more than the radiation would have!
The Breakthrough March 2015 continues…
The mandatory relocations from the Fukushima evacuation zone, which are responsible for much of the accident’s cost and all of its cataclysm, owe more to apocalyptic expectations built into regulatory standards than to objective health hazards from fallout. Those hazards are well within the range of risks we negotiate in ordinary life. It might be time to reconsider policies that require precipitate or long-term relocations, which carry their own risks. Hundreds of people died from the stress of the Fukushima evacuation, and thousands more were uprooted from their homes over radiation doses that would almost certainly never affect their health. Instead of requiring people to leave, it could make more sense to give them the information they need on radiation exposures and likely health risks, and let them make their own decisions.
The Breakthrough March 2015
6. They’re resettling the 20 mSv zones
7. What about the natural radiation at RAMSAR!?
Why haven’t you asked about Ramsar? What terrible nuclear accident happened there? Well, are you in for a mind-bending bit of data. It’s a massive government cover-up involving corporations that don’t want a terrible nuclear accident reported……. ok. I’m being sarcastic.
Ramsar’s radiation is natural. It still comes from uranium decaying in the environment, decaying into radon gas that we can breathe. But because it’s natural, no one has been able to spin a conspiracy theory around covering it up. Dr Helen’s tinfoil Hat brigade cannot rant against nature, can they? Remember Chernobyl’s SCZ was 2.5 mSv / annum, and Fukushima’s between normal 2.5 to 20 mSv /a. So what’s Ramsar got?
The highest background radiation in an inhabited area is found in Ramsar, primarily due to the use of local naturally radioactive limestone as a building material. The 1000 most exposed residents receive an average external effective radiation dose of 6 mSv per year, (0.6 rem/yr,) six times the ICRP recommended limit for exposure to the public from artificial sources. They additionally receive a substantial internal dose from radon. Record radiation levels were found in a house where the effective dose due to ambient radiation fields was 131 mSv/a, (13.1 rem/yr) and the internal committed dose from radon was 72 mSv/a (7.2 rem/yr). This unique case is over 80 times higher than the world average natural human exposure to radiation.
Epidemiological studies are underway to identify health effects associated with the high radiation levels in Ramsar. It is much too early to draw statistically significant conclusions. While so far support for beneficial effects of chronic radiation (like longer lifespan) has not been observed, a protective and adaptive effect is suggested by at least one study whose authors nonetheless caution that data from Ramsar are not yet sufficiently strong to relax existing regulatory dose limits. From the Background radiation wiki
If Helen’s tinfoil hat brigade cannot explain why these people are not dropping like flies, she should publicly retract all her anti-science books and stop making a fool of herself!