The Release Of Radioactive Iodine And Cesium

Japan is facing a triple triple tragedy.  A magnitude 9 earthquake, 30 meters high tsunami and the fear of radiation leak from Fukushima nuclear power plant.  Earthquake strike is common in Japan. Their tall buildings and other infrastructure are built to withstand strong earthquakes. The damage should be minimal if it was the quake alone. The destruction was reinforced by a 30 meters high tsunami raging with the speed of 500 kilometers per hour. Imagine getting hit by this speed of water. element

To add more trouble, the tsunami wrecked the nuclear power plants cooler. The six cores are in danger of overheating and some of them are partially wrecked causing explosion and radiation released. The water supply, milk , spinach and other agricultural products are affected with radiation.

We all know that radiation is harmful. Imagine yourself undergoing a continuous CT scan and X-ray. A doctor will never recommend repeated x-ray procedures. As regular employee, x-ray examination is only required once a year. The situation now in Fukushima and nearby places is like a continuous x-ray. People within the vicinity might suffer its harmful effects.

Radiation leaks might also lead to radioactive iodine released. It is linked to formation of thyroid cancer. Do not worry so much cause it is one of the least deadly cancer if treated promptly! Hmm.. is least deadly means less scary?

Radioactive iodine has average half life of 8 days. The definition of of half life is the period of time it takes for a degrading substance to decrease by half. This means that it could still be potent within 16 days from the time of release.  One should wait more than 16 days before consuming foods and water without fear.

Potassium iodide pills can be taken to prevent the absorption of radioactive iodine. However, it is only effective within three hours from the time of exposure and can only protect the thyroid gland, not the whole body. Excessive iodide pills intake is harmful.

The more shocking issue is the release of cesium. It is a longer lasting element with the average half life of 30 years.  It affects the whole body and causes more types of cancer. Thirty years is very long and 60 years could be a life time.  A new born child within the affected vicinity is very unlucky.


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