Driving in to work just now, some brief report was being made on some (presumably Fukushima Fifty) workers being hospitalized. At least one was said to have burns on his leg. And the guy reporting this said something like,
…working night and day in a plant with toxic levels of radiation, it’s not hard to see where the burns came from…
Extremely hot piping?
And you should have heard the holier-than-thou tone of this “journalist”. Obviously it was radiation.
I’m not saying it wasn’t. But the odds seem extremely remote. I don’t have enough info to be sure.
But then again, neither does that swaggering idiot.
Of course ionizing radiation can burn skin. It can burn any flesh it can get at. Experts say that alpha radiation can’t, because it’s stopped by the dead layer of the skin. Sorry, experts, Sci-Fi geek here. I merely note the Plausible/Implausible Line, I don’t stop there. And if you hammer a dead layer of skin with ten billion rads of alpha energy you’ll find it can indeed burn living skin, with vaporized dead skin as the torch.
Whoops, off-track. Point is, any sort of ionizing radiation can burn flesh. Neutrinos could, in sufficient quantites. And though I also enjoy sprinting past the Implausible/Totally Ridiculous Line, you’ll be spared.
Anyway…radiation burns, Mr. Expert Journalist? So is it beta burns, or gamma burns? Neutron, maybe?
Beta, as our expert knows, is the most common skin searer. Just as it’s most likely to produce cataracts ithrough massive doses to the eyes.
We burnt the hell out of a lot of skin during Pacific H-bomb testing, by accident of course. With beta radiation. Beta’s not penetrating enough to get through the skin. Which means that it deposits all its energy there, “burning” skin more efficiently than any other form of radiation. Gamma mostly goes right through skin. If it doesn’t interact, it doesn’t burn.
You could be coated with a “pure beta emitter”, suffer third-degree burns over every square inch of skin and eyes clouded over…but the rest of your body would be utterly unscathed. At Fukushima, they’re not dealing with pure beta.
And if you’re not coated with it, the open beta source is some feet away, those betas get weaker just fighting through the air. Wearing PPE (personal protective equipment)? That will knock it down more, somewhere between “some” and “all”.
And what if the beta isn’t out in the open, but coursing along a nearby steel pipe? Then you’re not getting hit by beta at all.
So how about it, oldHP? How likely would you rate the odds of “beta burn” among these workers?
Then it must be gamma. Right, smarmy journalist?
If gamma radiation ever burns anyone’s skin to the extent of needing hospital care, I don’t see how they’ll ever get it. To only a slightly lesser extent, it’s burnt down into the core of their body.
What do you think, our rad-experienced readers? Gamma burns?
Here’s my theory, Mr. Journalist. And I’ll bolster it with a anecdote later. From, of course, North Anna.
I postulate: your implication was right! The worker was indeed burned by radiation.