My last post was about exposure to radiation, and how no one is going to pick up a lethal dose, either acute or chronic.
Now, the meltdown scenario itself is very serious. The concern is over releasing radioactive material. Hot noble gases are one thing–Wiki claims Three Mile Island released 13 million Curies, which seems high. Anyway, it didn’t hurt anybody. Cesium-137 is another matter. Iodine-131 can also be a concern.
Our limits for contamination are much, much lower than for radiation. Once you’re out of a rad field, you’re not getting dosed any longer. But when you ingest or absorb material, you’re exposed for as long as it remains in your body.
So, here’s a “news” report saying,
…three people – randomly selected out of a group of 90 – have tested positive for radiation poisoning, according to Japan’s government broadcaster, NHK.
“Radiation poisoning”? Good grief. I doubt the Japanese rad experts used that term. As I said in my last post, we can’t even see physiological changes until many rem have been absorbed. Medical signs of rad “poisoning” might show up at a 50 rem acute dose, in a depressed white blood cell count. But other things can suppress white cells. As the dose goes up other symptoms appear, until eventually you can be pretty sure of radiation.
I strongly suspect the phrase should be “internal contamination”, not radiation poisoning. If those plants have released rad material–and I’m sure noble gases have been vented–people could have detectable levels of gamma emitters in their system.
Please note if you pick a large enough group you will see “radiation poisoning”– that is, folks who’ve taken radiopharms for medical reasons. We can measure those folks with dose rate instruments, much less Geiger counters.
And if these folks did “traverse a plume” and ingest rad material, what were the isotopes? If it’s noble gases, no big deal (health-wise, I mean. Obviously it’s a big emotional and public relations deal).
I worked an outage at North Anna once where they sent us in without waiting the usual time for noble gas decay. We came out and everyone seemed contaminated. So I blew on the Geiger counter…and pegged the needle. My breath was reading a few thousand counts a minute.
That was freaky.
And have you noticed all the remarks about how much this past year resembled 1979?
Well, TMI was 32 years ago.