Protecting Ourselves and Our Children from Radiation Exposure
Reprinted with Permission from Dr Elisa Song of Whole Child Wellness in Belmont, CA
As everyone is acutely aware, the situation in Japan has been dire. Our hearts go out to the Japanese people and everyone who has lost loved ones or who have loved ones who are in continued danger.
We have received many calls regarding our risk, in California, for radiation exposure from the nuclear event occurring in Japan. I don’t think anybody really knows as events are still unfolding, but from scientific forecasts considering the 5000 miles that the radiation would have to travel to reach us and its rapid rate of dissipation, by the time any radiation reaches us, the levels should be very low.
According to various news sources, direct measurements of radiation on the West Coast through March 18th have revealed no significant increase so far. Radiation dose is measured in something called millisieverts. Background dose due to natural radiation exposure varies from place to place but is about 3 millisieverts a year. Nuclear plant workers are limited to 20 millisieverts a year. One hundred millisieverts in one dose can increase the risk of cancer. One hundred to 500 millisieverts can cause bone marrow damage, leading to infection and death. A chest x-ray is 0.1 millisieverts. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced today that radiation levels in downtown Tokyo were at 0.000047 millisieverts an hour, barely higher than the 0.000035 millisieverts an hour that is typical. CBS News nuclear safety consultant Cham Dallas, a PhD in toxicology who spent ten years studying the impact of Chernobyl, stated in an interview that, as it stands now, any cumulative radiation exposure to people on the West Coast as a result of the Japanese accident should be clinically insignificant, amounting to less than a tenth of a chest x-ray (0.01 millisieverts). Finally, on March 18th one of the monitoring stations in Sacramento, California detected miniscule quantities of the radioactive isotope xenon-133. The origin was determined to be consistent with a release from the Fukushima reactors in Northern Japan. The levels detected were approximately 0.1 disintegrations per second per cubic meter of air (0.1 Bq/m3), which results in a dose rate approximately one-millionth of the dose rate that a person normally receives from rocks, bricks, the sun and other natural background sources. (more…)