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Astronauts Going to Mars Will Receive Many Lifetimes Worth of Radiation

Universe Today, In a recent study published in Space Physics, an international team of researchers discuss an in-depth study examining the long-term physiological effects of solar radiation on astronauts with emphasis on future astronauts traveling to Mars, to include steps we can take to help mitigate the risk of such solar radiation exposure. The researchers hailed from the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, India, United States, Italy, Greece, and Germany, and their study helps us better understand the in-depth, long-term health impacts of astronauts during long-term space missions, specifically to Mars and beyond.

Exposure to ionizing radiation is one of the main health risks to astronauts in crewed missions to Mars,” said Dr. Dimitra Atri, a Research Scientist at New York University Abu Dhabi, and lead author of the study. “Going to Mars is going to be humanity’s ultimate adventure in the 21st century — it would be unfortunate if the mission is successful, but astronauts suffer major health issues or even die because of radiation exposure. So, we need to estimate radiation exposure in a very careful way and study its overall impact on human health. It will also help us develop mitigation strategies to keep our astronauts safe.”

To conduct their study, the researchers utilized a computer simulation known as Geant4 with a model human phantom to calculate how each organ of the human body is affected by radiation doses from exposure to energetic charged particles for prolonged periods. These include impacts on an astronaut’s health such as Acute Radiation Syndrome, nervous system damage, and a higher risk of cancer. The CDC defines Acute Radiation Syndrome, also known as radiation sickness or radiation toxicity, as “an acute illness caused by irradiation of the entire human body (or most of the body) by a high dose of penetrating radiation in a very short period of time (usually a matter of minutes).”

Combining their data from the model human phantom with dozens of past medical studies, the researchers discuss the underlying impacts of ionizing radiation on physiological systems, to include the nervous, immune, and skeletal systems, and behavioral effects, along with impacts on genetic material and risk of cancer. They considered a crewed mission to Mars comprising of 600 days in cruise phase to and from the Red Planet and spending 400 days on the Martian surface. While they noted a knowledge gap regarding past medical studies and their own study, they stated radiation limits set by the European Space Agency, Roscosmos, Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, and NASA would be surpassed during a crewed mission to Mars.

“It is a comprehensive study modeling the impact of charged particles — protons, alpha particles, heavier species on a human phantom by using CERN’s charged particle interaction code, said Dr. Atri. “We were able to calculate radiation dose deposited in various organs of the human body. ………….  https://www.universetoday.com/157285/astronauts-going-to-mars-will-receive-many-lifetimes-worth-of-radiation/

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August 23, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, space travel | Leave a comment

MARS ASTRONAUTS WOULD GET HORRIFYING DOSE OF RADIATION, STUDY FINDS

SO… WHAT WAS THAT ABOUT COLONIZING MARS?

MAGGIE HARRISON  https://futurism.com/the-byte/mars-astronauts-radiation-study 15 Aug 22

Sorry, Elon

So, uh, there might be a serious wrench in Elon Musk’s plans to colonize Mars.

According to an alarming — though yet-to-be-peer-reviewed — new study, astronauts who underwent a crewed mission to the Red Planet would likely face devastating levels of radiation — even when wearing protective metal shields.

Bad Trip

In order to realistically examine how much cumulative radiation the astronauts would face, the scientists based their research on a 1,000-day crewed mission — 600 days of travel time, 400 days on the Martian surface — to our neighboring planet.

As New Scientist reports, the work was partially inspired by the gender gap in space radiation research. Most studies in the field have focused on male bodies — NASA, in fact, is only sending test dummies with female anatomies into space for the first time this year.

With that in mind, the scientists were sure to include comprehensive virtual models of both male and female anatomies in their study. These models were then mercilessly pelted with simulated cosmic radiation, including that caused by solar flares, and studied using particle-tracking software usually used in particle accelerator research. (It’s also worth noting that the model accounted for exposures with aluminum shielding and without.)

Radiation Station

And regarding whether such missions would be safe or not, the results were unfortunately in favor of “not.”

After surveying the impact of the 1,000-day simulated mission on over 40 of the digitally-modeled body parts and organs, the researchers determined that most of the individual organs examined contained radiation levels over one sievert — as New Scientist reports, most space agencies worldwide stipulate that no astronaut should be exposed to over one sievert of radiation throughout their entire career, while NASA maintains that 0.6 sieverts should be the max.

As the study has yet to be peer reviewed, none of this data is entirely certain. But if it ultimately checks out, humanity definitely has some protective measures to figure out before any astronauts — let alone a whole chunk of humanity — could safely make their way to Earth’s dusty red neighbor.

READ MORE:Mars astronauts would get unsafe radiation doses even with shielding [New Scientist]

August 14, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, space travel | Leave a comment

“Shell” companies purchase radioactive materials, prompting push for nuclear licensing reform

Defense News, By Bryant Harris, 10 Aug 22,

WASHINGTON – Late last year, government employees forged a copy of a license to buy hazardous, radioactive material. They created shell companies, then placed orders, generated invoices and paid two U.S.-based vendors.

The scheme worked. The employees successfully had the material shipped, complete with radioactive stickers on the side, then confirmed delivery.

But the workers were actually investigators from the Government Accountability Office, the congressional watchdog, and they were testing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s ability to regulate the sale and procurement of dangerous materials.

The act, and a subsequent report from the GAO, alarmed Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., who is now calling on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to overhaul its licensing system as a way to avoid a national security disaster.

“Anyone could open a shell company with a fraudulent license to obtain dangerous amounts of radioactive material that could be weaponized into a dirty bomb,” Torres told Defense News in an interview on Wednesday. “Disperse radioactive material in a city as densely populated as New York, and it could cause catastrophic damage.”

The commission classifies radioactive material into five categories of risk. Only categories one and two currently are subject to its independent license verification system – a loophole that Torres and the GAO fear that an individual or group could exploit to wreak havoc by building a dirty bomb that combines combines conventional explosives with category three radioactive materials.

Torres, who sits on the House Homeland Security Committee, is pressing the NRC to immediately expand its independent license verification system to include category three quantities of radioactive materials. He formally made the licensing overhaul request in a letter seen by Defense News on Wednesday. This request is in line with the GAO’s recommendations in what Torres called an “alarming report.”………………………
more https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2022/08/10/shell-companies-purchase-radioactive-materials-prompting-push-for-nuclear-licensing-reform/

August 9, 2022 Posted by | radiation, safety, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Hisashi Ouchi Suffered an 83-day Death By Radiation Poisoning

 https://science.howstuffworks.com/hisashi-ouchi.htm By: Patrick J. Kiger  |  Aug 8, 2022

On the morning of Sept. 30, 1999, at a nuclear fuel-processing plant in Tokaimura, Japan, 35-year-old Hisashi Ouchi and two other workers were purifying uranium oxide to make fuel rods for a research reactor.

As this account published a few months later in The Washington Post details, Ouchi was standing at a tank, holding a funnel, while a co-worker named Masato Shinohara poured a mixture of intermediate-enriched uranium oxide into it from a bucket.

Suddenly, they were startled by a flash of blue light, the first sign that something terrible was about to happen.

The workers, who had no previous experience in handling uranium with that level of enrichment, inadvertently had put too much of it in the tank, as this 2000 article in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists details. As a result, they inadvertently triggered what’s known in the nuclear industry as a criticality accident — a release of radiation from an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction.

Ouchi, who was closest to the nuclear reaction, received what probably was one of the biggest exposures to radiation in the history of nuclear accidents. He was about to suffer a horrifying fate that would become a cautionary lesson of the perils of the Atomic Age.

“The most obvious lesson is that when you’re working with [fissile] materials, criticality limits are there for a reason,” explains Edwin Lyman, a physicist and director of nuclear power safety for the Union of Concerned Scientists, and co-author, with his colleague Steven Dolley, of the article in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

If safeguards aren’t carefully taught and followed, there’s potential for “a devastating type of accident,” Lyman says.

It wasn’t the first time it had happened. A 2000 U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission report noted that before Tokaimura, 21 previous criticality accidents had occurred between 1953 and 1997.

The two workers quickly left the room, according to The Post’s account. But even so, the damage already had been done. Ouchi, who was closest to the reaction, had received a massive dose of radiation. There have been various estimates of the exact amount, but a 2010 presentation by Masashi Kanamori of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency put the amount at 16 to 25 gray equivalents (GyEq), while Shinohara, who was about 18 inches (46 centimeters) away, received a lesser but still extremely harmful dose of about 6 to 9 GyEq and a third man, who was further away, was exposed to less radiation.

Internet articles frequently describe Ouchi as ‘the most radioactive man in history,’ or words to that effect, but nuclear expert Lyman stops a bit short of that assessment.

“The estimated doses for Ouchi were among the highest known, though I’m not sure if it’s the highest,” explains Lyman. “These typically occur in these kinds of criticality accidents.”

What Does a High Dose of Radiation Do To the Body?

The radiation dose in a criticality accident can be even worse than in a catastrophic accident at a nuclear power plant, such as the 1986 reactor explosion at Chernobyl in Ukraine, then a part of the Soviet Union, where the radiation was dispersed. (Even so, 28 people eventually died from radiation exposure.)

“These criticality accidents present the potential for delivery of a large amount of radiation in a short period of time, though a burst of neutrons and gamma rays,” Lyman says. “That one burst, if you’re close enough, you can sustain more than a lethal dose of radiation in seconds. So that’s the scary thing about it.”

High doses of radiation damage the body, rendering it unable to make new cells, so that the bone marrow, for example, stops making the red blood cells that carry oxygen and the white blood cells that fight infection, according to Lyman. “Your fate is predetermined, even though there will be a delay,” he says, “if you have a high enough dose of ionizing radiation that will kill cells, to the extent that your organs will not function.”

According to an October 1999 account in medical journal BMJ, the irradiated workers were taken to the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Chiba, just east of Tokyo. There, it was determined that their lymphatic blood count had dropped to almost zero. Their symptoms included nausea, dehydration and diarrhea. Three days later, they were transferred to University of Tokyo Hospital, where doctors tried various measures in a desperate effort to save their lives.

Ouchi’s Condition Continued to Deteriorate

When Ouchi, a handsome, powerfully built, former high school rugby player who had a wife and young son, arrived at the hospital, he didn’t yet look like a victim of intense radiation exposure, according to “A Slow Death: 83 Days of Radiation Sickness,” a 2002 book by a team of journalists from Japan’s NHK-TV, later translated into English by Maho Harada. His face was slightly red and swollen and his eyes were bloodshot, but he didn’t have any blisters or burns, though he complained of pain in his ears and hand. The doctor who examined him even thought that it might be possible to save his life.

But within a day, Ouchi’s condition got worse. He began to require oxygen, and his abdomen swelled, according to the book. Things continued downhill after he arrived at the University of Tokyo hospital. Six days after the accident, a specialist who looked at images of the chromosomes in Ouchi’s bone marrow cells saw only scattered black dots, indicating that they were broken into pieces. Ouchi’s body wouldn’t be able to generate new cells. A week after the accident, Ouchi received a peripheral blood stem cell transplant, with his sister volunteering as a donor.

Nevertheless, Ouchi’s condition continued to deteriorate, according to the book. He began to complain of thirst, and when medical tape was removed from his chest, his skin started coming off with it. He began developing blisters. Tests showed that the radiation had killed the chromosomes that normally would enable his skin to regenerate, so that his epidermis, the outer layer that protected his body, gradually vanished. The pain became intense. He began experiencing breathing problems as well. Two weeks after the accident, he was no longer able to eat, and had to be fed intravenously. Two months into his ordeal, his heart stopped, though doctors were able to revive him.

On Dec. 21, at 11:21 p.m., Ouchi’s body finally gave out. According to Lyman’s and Dolley’s article, he died of multiple organ failure. Japan’s Prime Minister at the time, Keizo Obuchi, issued a statement expressing his condolences to the worker’s family and promised to improve nuclear safety measures, according to Japan Times.

Shinohara, Ouchi’s co-worker, died in April 2000 of multiple organ failure as well, according to The Guardian.

The Japanese government’s investigation concluded that the accident’s main causes included inadequate regulatory oversight, lack of an appropriate safety culture, and inadequate worker training and qualification, according to this April 2000 report by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Six officials from the company that operated the plant were charged with professional negligence and violating nuclear safety laws. In 2003, a court gave them suspended prison terms, and the company and at least one of the officials also were assessed fines, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

August 8, 2022 Posted by | Japan, radiation, Reference | 2 Comments

Greenpeace experts find Chornobyl under Russian occupation – radiation levels much higher than the IAEA estimated

 Russian military occupation at Chornobyl commits crime against the
environment and global science understanding of radiation risks.

This was stated by the Greenpeace experts during the press conference in the Ukraine
Crisis Media Center on July 20. The Greenpeace investigation team has found
radiation levels in areas where Russian military operations occurred that
classifies it as nuclear waste to be at least three times higher than the
estimation by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In April 2022, the IAEA provided very limited data with assurances that radiation levels
were ‘normal” and not a major environmental or public safety issue.

 Ukraine Crisis 20th July 2022

July 22, 2022 Posted by | environment, radiation, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Greenpeace radiation investigation at Chornobyl to assess accuracy of IAEA data.

During the Russian occupation of the Chornobyl region, Greenpeace experts warned that this could lead to increased radioactive contamination.

But the IAEA gave an “all-clear” at the end of April. The nuclear agency has a mandate to promote nuclear power.

Greenpeace Germany will present the results of the Chornobyl radiation research, in English, at a press conference in Kyiv on July 20 at 9:00 am CEST (ZOOM Link: https://t1p.de/dzbks).

Greenpeace  https://www.miragenews.com/greenpeace-radiation-investigation-at-chornobyl-820855/ 18 July 22,

Chornobyl, Ukraine – Near the ruins of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant, an international team of radiation experts led by Greenpeace Germany is examining abandoned Russian positions for radioactive contamination. Trenches and dugouts were built by Russian soldiers during their occupation of the Chornobyl site in March. About 600 soldiers were deployed there. The research project is being conducted with the approval of the Ukrainian government and in cooperation with scientists from the State Agency of Ukraine on the Exclusion Zone Management (SAUEZM).

For the first time since the beginning of the Russian invasion, independent measurements will be taken and the April 28 statement of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be assessed. According to the IAEA, while there was increased radiation the levels did not pose a great danger to the environment or people. The IAEA’s deputy director is Mikhail Chudakov, a long-time employee of the Russian nuclear company Rosatom.[1]

Shaun Burnie, a nuclear expert from Greenpeace Germany, on site in Chornobyl, said:

“We want to know what really happened on the ground. The IAEA’s information so far is insufficient. The Ukrainian authorities are enabling the Greenpeace Germany research team to gather independent information about radiation safety in the region. This includes investigating the radioactive contamination that deposited in the Exclusion Zone when the Chornobyl reactor exploded in 1986. Between seven and nine tonnes of nuclear fuel were pulverized and ejected into the atmosphere in the 1986 explosion.”

During the Russian occupation of the Chornobyl region, Greenpeace experts warned that this could lead to increased radioactive contamination. But the IAEA gave an “all-clear” at the end of April. The nuclear agency has a mandate to promote nuclear power.[2]

“While the European Commission actively supports nuclear power by including it in its taxonomy. It’s more important than ever to investigate the environmental impact of Chornobyl, the world’s worst nuclear disaster,” said Burnie.

Greenpeace Germany will present the results of the Chornobyl radiation research, in English, at a press conference in Kyiv on July 20 at 9:00 am CEST (ZOOM Link: https://t1p.de/dzbks).

Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).View in full here.

July 18, 2022 Posted by | radiation, Ukraine | Leave a comment

The lingering horror of thorium radioactive poisoning in West Chicago

On the one hand, the story of West Chicago and thorium is one of triumph: a small town overcomes the odds and makes a big corporation clean up its radioactive waste. On the other hand, thorium still haunts some residents, especially those living with illness or deaths in the family that they suspect are related.

Are West Chicago’s Radiation Worries Over?, BELT Magazine, By Liuan Huska, 13 July 22,

Sandra Arzola was relaxing in her West Chicago home one weekend in 1995, when she heard a knock at the door. Recently married, she shared the gray duplex with her husband, mom and sister, and family members were constantly coming and going. But when Sandra answered the door that day, what she learned would change how she looked at her home and suburban community forever.

At the door was a woman representing Envirocon, an environmental cleanup company. There was thorium on the family’s property, the woman said, and if it was OK with them, workers were coming to remove it. It was the first time Sandra had heard of thorium “It took me by left field,” she said. “But [the representative] made it sound like everything was going to be fine.”

Unknowingly, the Arzolas had bought their way into what the Chicago Tribune in 1979 called “the radioactive capital of the Midwest.” Not long after they purchased the property, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designated it a Superfund site because of the hazardous waste in their yard.

The source of the danger was the old factory one block to the north of the Arzola home, which Jesse Arzola frequently went past while walking their dogs. From 1932 to 1973, the factory was the largest producer of rare earth and radioactive thorium compounds in the world. It started out producing lamps and later supplied thorium for the federal government’s atomic bomb development. But perhaps the factory’s most lasting legacy, at least in West Chicago, is the harmful radioactive waste that was dumped in ponds, piled at the factory and buried around homes and sidewalks across town.

Residents raised health concerns as early as the 1940s about the toxic material, but these were regularly dismissed by the factory, last owned by the Kerr-McGee Chemical Corporation. Comprehensive environmental protection rules weren’t put in place until the early 1970s, leaving the factory largely free to dispose of its nuclear waste for decades.

It has taken just as long for the company and government to clean up the radioactive waste. As of 2015, the radioactive sites under federal jurisdiction near the factory have been cleaned to EPA standards. There are no remaining health risks from the land, according to government officials.

But below the factory, the groundwater is still polluted with a range of toxins – particularly uranium – that exceed protection standards. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency, which has jurisdiction over the site, expects remediation to begin this fall. ……………………..

Prolonged or high levels of radiation exposure can damage genetic material in cells and cause cancer and other diseases later on, especially for children, who are more sensitive to radiation. Only two public health studies, published in the early 1990s, have been conducted in West Chicago. Both found elevated cancer rates in the 60185 zip code, which includes the neighborhood around the factory……………………………

The challenges facing West Chicago residents today began ninety years ago, when Charles R. Lindsay moved his lamp factory from Chicago to what was then an undeveloped little town with multiple rail connections. The factory, now officially known as the Rare Earths Facility, took monazite ore and used powerful acids to extract minerals to make gas lanterns, which burned thorium nitrate to emit an incandescent glow. During World War II, it also supplied thorium to the federal government to develop the atomic bombs that were later dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Japan.

During its four decades of operation, the Rare Earths Facility processed up to one hundred and forty-one thousand tons of monazite. The liquid waste from the extraction process was dumped into unlined ponds around the factory, seeping into the surrounding water table. Solid waste, a black, sand-like material known as thorium tailings, piled up on site. Old-timers share stories of sneaking into the factory grounds and playing on “Mount Thorium.” When the pile got too big, the waste was trucked down the road to a new pile in Reed Keppler Park.

Facing mounting piles of toxic waste, Lindsay came up with another solution: offer the waste to residents for landscaping. From the 1930s through the 1950s, radioactive thorium tailings were distributed across town, mixed with concrete to pour foundations, mixed with topsoil for gardens and spilled along roadways. The company continued to do this as the risks of radiation exposure became widely known starting in the late 1940s through its effects on Japanese atomic bomb survivors.

Soon after the factory moved to West Chicago, people started complaining. In 1941, nearby residents sued Lindsay Light for releasing airborne hydrofluoric acid that killed trees and shrubs nearby.

The federal government did not begin regulating nuclear materials until 1954. Starting in 1957 the company received repeated citations for safety violations, including failing to fence off radioactive storage areas, exposing workers to radiation levels above standards and improper waste disposal.

As the environmental movement gained steam through the 1960s, growing public pressure pushed Congress to create the Environmental Protection Agency and pass the Clean Air Act of 1970 and Clean Water Act of 1972. That resulted in sweeping new regulations – and obligations to the American public – for companies like Kerr-McGee, which had gotten used to operating with limited oversight…………………………….

The EPA denied the company’s request for an operating permit and the factory shuttered in 1973. It was cheaper to cease operations than follow the new rules. By 1980, Kerr-McGee had started the process of closing down the West Chicago facility for good. Pressure from residents and the city pushed the company to begin cleanup on 119 contaminated residential properties.

Still, Kerr-McGee had another plan that worried residents: to permanently store thirteen million cubic feet of radioactive waste at the factory site in a four-story, twenty-seven-acre, clay-covered cell. Concerned residents formed an organization, the Thorium Action Group, to fight the company’s proposal. This spawned more than a decade of legal battles between residents, the city of West Chicago, and state of Illinois — who wanted the thorium out of town — and the company and the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, who insisted the waste could safely be stored in this densely populated neighborhood of West Chicago…………………

Moving the thorium waste out of town would take over two decades to complete. In the meantime, there was still the problem of radioactive tailings embedded around the neighborhood…………………….

The Arzolas’ experience is far from rare. Realtors in West Chicago have operated with a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, said longtime realtor and former West Chicago resident Dan Czuba. Unlike for radon or lead, realtors never received directives from the state or any licensing board to disclose other harmful thorium byproducts. People have had to do their own homework and decide whether or not a home was a risk. “To this day,” Czuba said, “I still don’t know that there was an official statement of, ‘Thorium will hurt you.’”…………………………………..

Throughout the decades, various groups have tried to get the word out about thorium. The Thorium Action Group was active through the early 2000s. Once the EPA got involved and Kerr-McGee agreed to move the waste out, the group dissipated………

The lack of easily accessible information surrounding the contamination and cleanups has left some residents with the nagging worry that there may be other hidden pockets of radiation around town……….

One house to the west and across the railroad from the Arzolas, Erika Bartlett grew up playing along the tracks and under her yard’s sprawling old oak trees. When she was diagnosed with leukemia in 2012, at age thirty-four, a friend asked if there was anything she could have been exposed to.

“Wait a minute, I actually was,” Bartlett told her friend. She thought back to her high school years, when the oak trees, swingset and above-ground pool at her house were removed during the radiation remediation. Bartlett realized she had spent her childhood, starting from age four, in a neighborhood embedded with nuclear waste. She wondered how many others living near the factory had similar health problems. That started her on a yearslong personal investigation into the town’s thorium legacy.

Between 2012 and 2016, as Bartlett was undergoing cancer treatment, she knocked on doors in the neighborhoods around the factory, an area covering about one square mile. She found over 200 cases of cancers and other illnesses that could stem from radiation exposure, including birth defects, Hashimoto’s and aplastic anemia, the illness that killed the pioneering radioactivity researcher Marie Curie in 1934.

“When I first started, I didn’t think I’d find anything,” Bartlett said. “But block after block, it seemed like a bigger deal than I thought.”

The EPA estimated that, before the waste was removed, radiation levels in some residential neighborhoods in West Chicago increased lifetime cancer risks up to seventy times what is acceptable……

The only official health studies into the impacts on people living near the factory were conducted over three decades ago, by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Among residents in the 60185 zip code, studies in 1990 and 1991 found elevated rates of cancer, including melanomas and lung, colorectal and breast cancers. By grouping exposed and unexposed people together, however, researchers said more differences may have been masked……………………………………….

On the one hand, the story of West Chicago and thorium is one of triumph: a small town overcomes the odds and makes a big corporation clean up its radioactive waste. On the other hand, thorium still haunts some residents, especially those living with illness or deaths in the family that they suspect are related…………………  https://beltmag.com/are-west-chicagos-radiation-worries-over/

July 18, 2022 Posted by | environment, radiation, Reference, thorium, USA | Leave a comment

Putting People First in Low-Dose Radiation Research

Putting People First in Low-Dose Radiation Research, Bemnet Alemayehu  Natural Resources Defense Council. 7 June 22.It is urgent and feasible to improve our understanding of low-dose and low-dose-rate ionizing radiation health effects according to a new report released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS). At the request of the U.S. Congress, the NAS formed a committee of experts to conduct the study, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The report’s primary goal was to recommend a research program to increase the certainty of how exposure to low-dose and low-dose-rate radiation affects human health.  

NRDC agrees that this is the right time to reconsider low-dose interdisciplinary radiation research in the United States and explore opportunities that advances in radiation health physics and information technology are providing. A large fraction of the U.S. population is exposed to low-dose, and low-dose-rate radiation and this number is increasing. Low-dose radiation research is most relevant to impacted communities due to disproportionate level of radiation exposure these communities have experienced compared to the general U.S. population due to activities carried out as part of the U.S. nuclear weapons program. Going forward, the study should give an opportunity for stakeholders and impacted communities to have deep and meaningful engagement at all stages of the research program by identifying priorities of research that concern them. The study should also prioritize trust building and make use of local community expertise.

How are we exposed to low-dose radiation?

People are exposed to ionizing radiation from a variety of sources. Most of this exposure comes from background radiation sources and from medical procedures.

Ionizing radiation is radiation that carries with it enough energy to remove an electron from an atom. This process can initiate a chain of events leading to health problems. When considering the health effects of radiation, understanding the amount of radiation dose absorbed by a person or an organ is critical.

Low-dose and low-dose-rate (low-dose accumulated over several years) are defined to mean a dose below 100 milligray and 5 milligray per hour, respectively. Gray is a unit used to measure the amount of radiation absorbed by an object or person, reflecting the amount of energy that radioactive sources deposit in materials through which they pass. Low-dose radiation exposure includes exposure to natural radiation, medical applications, and occupational exposures. According to the NAS report, low doses of radiation delivered over long periods do not cause prompt tissue or organ damage but may cause cellular damage that increases an individual’s long-term risk of cancer and hereditary disorders in a stochastic (or probabilistic) fashion.

The NAS report identified the following seven low-dose and low-dose-rate radiation exposure sources to be relevant for the study:

  • exposure from natural radiation sources
  • exposure to patients from medical applications
  • occupational exposures
  • exposure of workers that results from nuclear power routine operations and accidents
  • exposure from nuclear or radiological incidents
  • exposures from the nuclear weapons program, and
  • exposure from nuclear waste.

Key recommendations from the report

Research agenda

Ionizing radiation occurs in a wide range of settings and the number of exposed individuals is increasing. However, the relationship between exposure to radiation and cancer risk at the very low doses is not well established. Currently, there is also no dedicated low-dose and low-dose-rate radiation research program or coordinated research strategy in the United States.

The report recommended research programs that leverage advances in modern science to obtain direct information on low-dose and low-dose-rate radiation health effects. These are:

  • advances in epidemiological study design and analysis
  • advances in radiobiological research
  • advances in biotechnology and research infrastructure

For the research to achieve its goals, integration and interaction between these research programs is critical.

Program funding

The report found that a significant investment over a sustained period spanning several decades is necessary to accomplish the research goals. The report estimated that $100 million annually is needed during the first 10 to 15 years with periodic assessments. The report cautioned that inadequate funding for the program would lead to the possible inadequate protection of patients, workers, and members of the public from the adverse effects of radiation.

Leadership for low-dose research in the United States

The report proposed joint Department of Energy and National Institute of Health leadership for low-dose radiation research that involves division of tasks based on capabilities. The report also recommended that the Department of Energy take strong and transparent steps to mitigate the issues of distrust toward research that it manages.

Engagement with impacted communities

Success of the low-dose radiation program would depend not only on its scientific integrity but also on its ability to meaningfully engage and communicate with the stakeholders, which includes impacted communities.

Impacted communities, according to the report, include indigenous communities; atomic veterans; nuclear workers; uranium miners, transporters, and their families; and individuals or communities impacted by radioactive contamination or nuclear fallout due to nuclear weapons testing, offsite radiation releases from nuclear weapons production sites, and nuclear waste cleanup activities. 

Impacted communities have strongly objected to the Department of Energy’s management of the low-dose radiation program due to the Department’s responsibility for management and cleanup of nuclear sites conflicting with its role as a manager of studies on low-dose and low-dose-rate radiation health effects.

For the success of the low-dose radiation program, the program needs to:

  • develop a transparent process for stakeholder identification, engagement, and communication
  • include members of the impacted communities in the independent advisory committee so that they may participate in various aspects of research planning and implementation, and
  • set up additional advisory subcommittees with substantial stakeholder participation to advise on specific projects that involve human populations exposed to low-dose radiation.

June 9, 2022 Posted by | radiation, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

After the meltdown

Because many health impacts appear years or decades after the radiological catastrophe, this allows governments, media and nuclear power proponents to claim minimal health impacts, and thereby to misrepresent the true state of affairs. This downplays the significant long-term health impacts of accidents, including among those who were not alive when the initial radioactive fallout occurred. 

The most effective, and precautionary, approach, is the prompt phaseout of nuclear power and its supporting industries, which would be beneficial for both health and the climate.

 https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2022/05/29/after-the-meltdown/  by beyondnuclearinternational, Reactors in a war zone and potential health consequences, By Cindy Folkers, Beyond Nuclear (US) and Dr Ian Fairlie, CND (UK)

Nuclear power plants are vulnerable to meltdown at any time, but they are especially vulnerable during wars, such as we are seeing in Ukraine, as evidenced by Russian attacks on the six-reactor Zaporizhizhia nuclear power facility and on the closed nuclear facility at Chornobyl in March 2022. 

Media articles often dwell on the conditions that could spark a meltdown, but attention should also be paid to the possible human health consequences. We answer some questions about the short-term and long-term consequences for human health of a radiological disaster at a nuclear power plant.

What happens at a reactor during a major nuclear power disaster?

The main dangers would arise at the reactor and at its irradiated fuel pool. Loss of power can result in both of these draining down, as their water contents leaked or boiled away. This would expose highly radioactive fuel rods, resulting in meltdowns and explosions as occurred at Fukushima in Japan in 2011, where large amounts of radioactivity were released into the environment. 

Explosions, as happened at both Chornobyl and Fukushima, eject radioactive nuclides high into the atmosphere, so that they travel long distances downwind via weather patterns, such as winds and rain. The result is radioactive fallout over large areas, as occurred at Chornobyl and Fukushima. The map below, from the European Environment Agency, shows that the dispersion and deposition of caesium-137 (Cs-137) from the Chornobyl catastrophe in Ukraine in 1986 was far-reaching — covering 40% of the land area of Europe, as it followed weather patterns over the 10-day period of the accident.

Contrary to what many people think, the radioactive fallout from Chornobyl reached the UK (2,500 km away) in 1986 as also shown in the above map [on original].

In Japan, radiation deposition from Fukushima in 2011 also fell in selective areas of Japan, with some radioactive particles traveling as far as 400 km. It is estimated that about 7% of Japan was seriously contaminated.

What is released during a major nuclear power accident?

In the first few days and weeks after the disaster, the first releases are generally short-lived radioactive gases and vapors including tritium (i.e. as tritiated water vapor), xenon, krypton, and iodine. These gases and vapors deliver harmful exposures to people living downwind of the nuclear plant when they are inhaled.

Later, hundreds of non-volatile nuclides can be released. These are non-gaseous, generally longer-lived radionuclides which can nevertheless travel long distances. They include strontium, caesium and plutonium. These pose dangers over longer time periods, contaminating the trees, farms, fields and urban areas where they settle and recirculate for decades afterwards. 

Although media reports usually talk about the half-lives of radionuclides (defined as the time it takes for half of the substance to decay), this is misleading, as the hazardous longevity of these nuclides is often 10 to 20 times longer than their radiological half-life. For example, nuclear waste consultants routinely use 300 years (i.e. 10 x the 30-year half-life of Cs-137) as a benchmark for the required longevity of waste facilities.

What are the harmful health effects?

Both short-lived and long-lived nuclides are dangerous.

Although short-lived radionuclides, for example, iodine-131 (I-131) with a half-life of 8.3 days, decay relatively quickly, this means that their doses-rates are high. Therefore during their short times they still give high dosesThese cause (a) immediate impacts (e.g. skin rashes, metallic taste, nausea, hair loss, etc.) and (b) diseases years later, such as thyroid cancer, long after the nuclide has decayed away. As they decay, they result in exposures both externally (e.g. to skin) and internally, by inhalation or ingestion.

Longer-lived nuclides in the environment, such as caesium-131 (Cs-137) with a half-life of 30 years, also pose dangers. These occur both initially during the first phases of a catastrophe when they are inhaled or ingested but also decades later when soils and leaf litter are disturbed by storms or forest fires. They can continually expose subsequent generations of people and animals, especially those unable to evacuate from contaminated areas or who lack access to clean food. 

Can I protect myself and my family?

The main responses to a nuclear disaster are shelter, evacuation and stable iodine prophylaxis. The most important, in terms of preventing future cancer epidemics, is evacuation, in other words, reducing exposure time as much as possible.

However unless evacuations are properly planned and executed, they can add to the death toll. For an accurate account of what happened during the poorly planned evacuations after the Fukushima see Ian Fairlie’s articleEvacuations After Severe Nuclear Accidents.

Shelter means staying indoors and closing all doors and windows tightly, blocking any areas where air might enter. 

Potassium iodide (KI) tablets are proven to be effective in protecting against the harmful effects of fast-traveling iodine-131, as radioactive gases are the first to arrive in the event of a nuclear disaster. This protection is particularly important for pregnant women and children. However KI ONLY protects the thyroid and does NOT provide protection against exposures to the other nuclides commonly released during nuclear accidents, such as caesium-137, strontium-90 and tritium.

Harm down the generations and continuing recontamination

The contamination released by nuclear reactors doesn’t stay in one place. Through forest fires, heavy rains, snowmelt, and human activities such as war, radioactivity in plants and soils can be resuspended later on, becoming available for yet more inhalation or ingestion, ensuring ongoing exposures.

Much of the impact in populations in radioactively contaminated areas could be avoided if people were assisted in moving away in order to stop breathing contaminated air and eating contaminated food. In addition, Korsakov et al., (2020) showed that babies in contaminated areas suffered raised levels of birth defects and congenital malformations. 

Studies have also shown that animals living on contaminated lands show an increased sensitivity to radiation compared to their parents (Goncharova and Ryabokon, 1998) and accelerated mutation rates (Baker et al., 2017, Kesäniemi et al., 2017). 

What we already know about health effects from nuclear accidents

The radioactive plumes from the Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear catastrophe near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania US in 1979 resulted in local people complaining of skin rashes, metallic tastes in their mouths, hair loss (Wing, 1997) and the deaths of their pets. These are all deterministic (i.e. cell killing) effects due to exposures to the very high concentrations of the radioactive gases iodine, krypton, xenon and tritium vapor released during the TMI accident. Radiation levels were so high they overwhelmed radiation monitors, which then failed to measure levels, or erroneously registered them as zero.

At TMI, Chornobyl, and Fukushima, children exposed to radioactive iodine in the initial release experienced thyroid problems, including thyroid cancer. At Chornobyl, the link between this exposure and thyroid cancer was definitively made and even accepted by radiation authorities – see UNSCEAR (2008). After Fukushima, the incidence of thyroid cancer has increased to 20 times the expected number of thyroid cancers among those exposed as children. However the Japanese Government and its agencies have refrained from accepting these figures.

Because many health impacts appear years or decades after the radiological catastrophe, this allows governments, media and nuclear power proponents to claim minimal health impacts, and thereby to misrepresent the true state of affairs. This downplays the significant long-term health impacts of accidents, including among those who were not alive when the initial radioactive fallout occurred. 

For example, the Torch 2 report in 2016 showed a long list of other health effects apart from thyroid cancer after the Chornobyl disaster.

Women, especially pregnant women and children are especially susceptible to damage from radiation exposure. This means that they suffer effects at lower doses. Resulting diseases include childhood cancers, impaired neural development, lower IQ rates, respiratory difficulties, cardiovascular diseases, perinatal mortality and birth defects — some appearing for the first time within a family in the population studied (Folkers, 2021).

Animals are also harmed: they have been found to suffer from genetic mutations, tumors, eye cataracts, sterility and neurological impairment, along with reductions in population sizes and biodiversity in areas of high contamination. 

What needs to happen

During the confusion and upheaval of past nuclear catastrophes, authorities have invariably attempted to downplay the dangers, deny the risks, and even raise allowable levels of radiation exposures. In all cases, they have comprehensively failed to protect the public. This needs to change.

Officials need to acknowledge the connection between radiation exposures and negative health impacts, particularly among women and children, so that early diagnoses and treatments can be provided. Independent, rather than industry-funded, science is needed to fully understand the cross-generational impact of radiation exposures. 

Ultimately, the best protection is the elimination of the risk of exposure, whether from routine radioactive releases or from a major disaster. The most effective, and precautionary, approach, is the prompt phaseout of nuclear power and its supporting industries, which would be beneficial for both health and the climate.

Read the report with full references — Possible health consequences of radioactive releases from stricken nuclear reactors — and a second report by Dr. Fairlie — A Primer on Radiation and Radioactivity—here.

Cindy Folkers is the radiation and health hazards specialist at Beyond Nuclear. Dr. Ian Fairlie is an independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment.

May 30, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, Reference | Leave a comment

Nuclear expert reaffirms harm of dumping nuclear-contaminated water into ocean, calls on Japan to stop pressuring opposition voices

By Zhang Changyue, May 22, 2022 

Nuclear expert reaffirms harm of dumping nuclear-contaminated water into ocean, calls on Japan to stop pressuring opposition voices  https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202205/1266269.shtml

Experts have reaffirmed the inevitable radioactive pollution to be caused by the dumping of nuclear-contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean after Japan on Wednesday initially approved the discharge plan.  

They demanded the Japanese government to stop pressuring those opposed to the plan and to truly listen to concerns from domestic public and international community, as a 30-day public comment period will finally determine the fate of the plan.

The Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) haven’t conducted a comprehensive environmental impact assessment as required by international law, Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist at Greenpeace, a global environmental protection organization, told the Global Times.

Their assessment made fundamental mistakes in radiation protection by ignoring the evidence that many different radionuclides would be discharged from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. For example, how much radioactivity in total is planned to be discharged has not been provided,” Burnie pointed out.

“The contaminated water contains radioactive cesium, strontium, tritium and other radioactive substances, which could be incorporated and concentrated in marine biota and end up in the bodies of humans. Some could cause damage to DNA, while others result in higher risks of diseases such as leukemia and blood cancer,” said Burnie.

“To assess the consequences of the tank releases, we need a full accounting of what isotopes are left in each tank after any secondary treatments. This is not just for the nine isotopes currently reported but for a larger suite of possible contaminants, such as plutonium,” explained Burnie. The expert added that since different radionuclides behave differently in the environment, models of tritium’s rapid dispersion and dilution in the ocean cannot be used to assess the fate of other potential contaminants.

Some isotopes are more readily incorporated into marine biota or seafloor sediment, said Burnie. For example, the biological concentration factor for fish for carbon-14 is up to 50,000 times higher than for tritium. Cobalt-60 is up to 300,000 times more likely to end up associated with seafloor sediment.

Also, the discharge could in reality continue for many decades longer than the period of 30 years claimed by the Japanese government – potentially for the rest of this century and beyond, Burnie noted. 

Although the Japanese government and TEPCO agreed in 2015 that the consent of the Fukushima Fishermen’s Association would be a condition for any future discharges, they are trying to pressure those opposed to say yes, said Burnie, encouraging efforts in Japan and the international community to continue to stop the unlawful and unjustified dumping plan.

May 23, 2022 Posted by | Japan, oceans, radiation | Leave a comment

Tritium isn’t harmless — Beyond Nuclear International

Dumping Fukushima’s radioactive water is one of many wrong options

Tritium isn’t harmless — Beyond Nuclear International Japan plan to dump tritiated water into the ocean comes with big risks  https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/72759838/posts/4028994254
On May 18, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority gave its initial approval for Tokyo Electric Power to release radioactive water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean, claiming that there are no safety concerns. But science disagrees with this conclusion. In a September 2019 blog entry, now updated by the author, Dr. Ian Fairlie looks at the implications of dumping largely tritiated water into the sea and whether there are any viable alternatives.
By Ian Fairlie

At the present time, over a million tonnes of tritium-contaminated water are being held in about a thousand tanks at the site of the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power station in Japan. This is being added to at the rate of ~300 tonnes a day from the water being pumped to keep cool the melted nuclear fuels from the three destroyed reactors at Fukushima. Therefore new tanks are having to be built each week to cope with the influx.

These problems constitute a sharp reminder to the world’s media that the nuclear disaster at Fukushima did not end in 2011 and is continuing with no end in sight.

Recently TEPCO / Japanese Government have been proposing to dilute, then dump, some or all of these tritium-contaminated waters from Fukushima into the sea off the coast of Japan. This has been opposed by Japanese fishermen and environment groups.

There has been quite a media debate, especially in Japan, about the merits and demerits of dumping tritium into the sea. 

Many opinions have been voiced in the debate: most are either incorrect or uninformed or both. This post aims to rectify matters and put the discussion on a more sound technical basis.

  1. TEPCO / Japanese Government have argued that, as tritium is naturally-occurring, it is OK to discharge more of it. This argument is partly correct but misleading. It is true that tritium is created in the stratosphere by cosmic ray bombardment, but the argument that, because it exists naturally, it’s OK to dump more is false. For example, dioxins, furans and ozone are all highly toxic and occur naturally, but dumping more of them into the environment would be regarded as anti-social and to be avoided.
  2. TEPCO / Japanese Government have argued that it is safe to dump tritium because it already exists in the sea. Yes, tritium is there but at low concentrations of a few becquerels per litre (Bq/l). But the tritium concentrations in the holding tanks at Fukushima are typically about a megabecquerel per litre (MBq/l). In layman’s terms, that’s about a million times more concentrated.
  3. TEPCO / Japanese Government have argued coastal nuclear plants routinely dump water that contains tritium into the ocean. Yes, this does (regrettably) occur as their cooling waters become tritiated during their transits of reactor cooling circuits. But two wrongs do not make a right. Moreover, the annual amounts are small compared with what is being proposed at Fukushima. A one GW(e) BWR reactor typically releases about a terabecquerel (trillion Bq) of tritium to sea annually. But Fukushima’s tanks hold about one petabecquerel (PBq or a thousand trillion Bq) of tritium – that is, a thousand times more. A much bigger problem.
  1. Readers may well ask where is all this tritium coming from? Most (or maybe all) the tritium will come from the concrete structures of the ruined Fukushima reactor buildings. After ~40 years’ operation they are extremely contaminated with tritium. (Recall that tritium is both an activation product and a tertiary fission product of nuclear fission.) And, yes, this is the case for all decommissioned (and by corollary, existing) reactors: their concrete structures are all highly contaminated with tritium. The older the station, the more contaminated it is. In my view, this problem constitutes an argument for not building more nuclear power stations: at the end of their lives, all reactor hulks will remain radioactive for over 100 years.
  2. What about other radioactive contaminants? Reports are emerging that the tank waters also remain contaminated with other nuclides such as caesium-137 and especially strontium-90. This is due to the poor performance of Hitachi’s Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS). Their concentrations are much lower than the tritium concentrations but they are still unacceptably high.

For example, on 16 October 2018, the UK Daily Telegraph stated:

“Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) which runs the plant, has until recently claimed that the only significant

contaminant in the water is safe levels of tritium, which can be found in small amounts in drinking water, but is dangerous in large amounts. The [Japanese] government has promised that all other radioactive material [apart from tritium] is being reduced to “non-detect” levels by the sophisticated (ALPS). 

“However documents provided to The Telegraph by a source in the Japanese government suggest that the ALPS has consistently failed to eliminate a cocktail of other radioactive elements, including iodine, ruthenium, rhodium, antimony, tellurium, cobalt and strontium. 

“That adds to reports of a study by the regional Kahoko Shinpo newspaper which it said confirmed that levels of iodine-129 and ruthenium-106 exceeded acceptable levels in 45 samples out of 84 in 2017. Iodine 129 has a half-life of 15.7 million years and can cause cancer of the thyroid; ruthenium 106 is produced by nuclear fission and high doses can be toxic and carcinogenic when ingested. 

In late September 2017, TEPCO was forced to admit that around 80 per cent of the water stored at the Fukushima site still contains radioactive substances above legal levels after the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry held public hearings in Tokyo and Fukushima at which local residents and fishermen protested against the plans. It admitted that levels of strontium 90, for example, are more than 100 times above legally permitted levels in 65,000 tons of water that has been through the ALPS cleansing system and are 20,000 times above levels set by the government in several storage tanks at the site.”

So what is to be done?

First of all, the ALPS system has to be drastically improved. After that, some observers have argued that, ideally, the tritium should be separated out of the tank waters. Some isotopic tritium removal technologies have been proposed, for example by the International Atomic Energy Agency, but the picture is complicated. The only operating facility I’m aware of, is located at Darlington near Toronto in Canada, though secret military separation facilities may exist in the US or France.

However the Darlington facility was extremely difficult and expensive to construct (~12 years to build and to get working properly), and its operation consumes large amounts of electricity obtained from the Darlington nuclear power station nearby. Its raison d’ȇtre is to recover very expensive deuterium for Canadian heavy water reactors.

Other proposed remedies will probably be more expensive. One problem is basic physics. The tritium is in the form of tritiated water, which is effectively the same as water itself, so that chemical separation or filtration methods simply do not work. 

Another problem is inefficiency: with isotope separation, one would have to put the source hydrogen through thousands of times to get even small amounts of separated non-radioactive hydrogen. A third problem is that hydrogen, as the smallest element, is notoriously difficult to contain, so that gaseous tritium emissions would be very large each year.

None of these technologies is recommended as a solution for Japan: any such facility would release large amounts of tritium gas and tritiated water vapor to air each year, as occurs at Darlington. Tritium gas is quickly converted to tritiated water vapor in the environment. The inhalation of tritiated water vapor from any mooted Japanese facility would likely result in higher collective doses than the ingestion of tritiated sea food, were the tritium to be dumped in the sea.

I recommend neither of these proposed solutions.

There are no easy answers here. Barring a miraculous technical discovery which is unlikely, I think TEPCO/Japanese Government will have to buy more land and keep on building more holding tanks to allow for tritium decay to take place. Ten half-lives for tritium is 123 years: that’s how long these tanks will have to last – at least.

This will allow time not only for tritium to decay, but also for politicians to reflect on the wisdom of their support for nuclear power.

May 23, 2022 Posted by | Japan, radiation, Reference | Leave a comment

The extent of American radiation exposure is larger than you think

U.S. nuclear bomb testing spread radiation across the vast majority of the country  https://www.deseret.com/opinion/2022/5/20/23125918/opinion-the-extent-of-american-radiation-exposure-nuclear-bomb-testing-reca By John LaForge, Readers’ Forum,  May 21, 2022


In a May 3 editorial board opinion “The steep price of America bombing its own people,” it says “the interior West of the United States” is “the only part of the nation exposed repeatedly, over many years, to fallout from nuclear weapons tests conducted by the United States government.”

This is a gross underestimation of the nationwide extent of radioactive fallout spread from U.S. bomb testing in the atmosphere, fallout which, in fact, contaminated each and every county in the continental United States.

The board must certainly know of the groundbreaking October 1997 report by the National Cancer Institute, “Estimated Exposures and Thyroid Doses Received by the American People from Iodine-131 in Fallout Following Nevada Atmospheric Nuclear Bomb Tests.”

This report notes in its executive summary and in multiple map illustrations that “Some radioiodine was deposited everywhere in the United States, with the highest deposits immediately downwind of the NTS (Nevada test site).”

The report notes that “Ninety nuclear tests … released about 150 million curies of iodine-131, mainly in the years 1952, 1953, 1955, and 1957.” Of course beyond just iodine-131, there were dozens of other dangerous radioactive materials in the fallout. Radioiodine alone was studied because after being deposited on grass, it quickly contaminated cow’s milk and consequently the infants, children and adults that consumed the milk.

May 21, 2022 Posted by | NORTH AMERICA, radiation | Leave a comment

Radiation: Does iodine help?

Radiation: Does iodine help?  https://www.dw.com/en/radiation-does-iodine-help/a-61020889 4 Mar 22,

Fears have grown about radiation exposure since Russia’s attack on a Ukrainian nuclear facility. But taking iodine won’t always help. It can, in fact, be dangerous.

When there is an accident at a nuclear power plant — if there’s an explosion or a leak or it’s damaged in some way in war — radioactive iodine is one of the first substances that’s released into the atmosphere.

If that radioactive iodine gets into the body, it can damage cells in the thyroid and result in cancer.

You can inhale radiation, or it can get into your body via the skin. But you can’t see, smell or taste it in the air. It’s an invisible threat.

Some of the worst effects of an overexposure to radiation are thyroid cancer, tumors, acute leukemia, eye diseases and psychological or mental disorders. Radiation can even damage your genes for generations to come.

In the most extreme cases, a high dose of radiation over a short period of time will cause death within days or even hours.    

Is it worth taking iodine against radiation?

Our bodies do not produce iodine themselves. But we do need it, so we consume iodine through food or supplements.

You can purchase iodine in the form of a tablet. When consumed, the iodine is collected or stored in the thyroid gland, where it is used to produce hormones. They help various bodily functions and even support the development of the brain.

The thyroid can, however, become saturated with iodine. And when that happens it can’t store anymore.

So, the theory is that if you take enough “good” iodine, there will be no room left in the thyroid for any “bad” or radioactive iodine. That radioactive iodine should then simply pass through the body and get excreted via the kidneys.

But don’t take iodine as a precaution

There is no point in taking iodine as a precautionary measure to prevent against radiation exposure after a leak or attack on a nuclear power plant.

The thyroid only stores iodine for a limited amount of time.

And taking too much iodine — even the good stuff — can be dangerous.

Many people in Germany, for instance, suffer from an overactive thyroid. And health experts advise against taking any iodine supplements unless there is an acute medical reason to do so. 

Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) says iodine supplements can help after a nuclear power plant accident in a radius of up to 100 kilometers (62 miles).

But the iodine is still only effective if taken when it is needed. Experts say an iodine “block” only has a chance of helping if the good iodine is taken just before or during contact with radioactive iodine. 

Cesium, strontium absorbed by the body

The radioactive isotopes iodine 131 and iodine 133 cause thyroid cancer. They are also the isotopes most associated with radiation exposure caused by a leak or explosion at a nuclear power plant.

The radioactive isotopes strontium 90 and cesium 137 are also part of the mix. They settle in bone tissue and likewise increase the risk of cancer.

The radioactive isotopes strontium 90 and cesium 137 are also part of the mix. They settle in bone tissue and likewise increase the risk of cancer.

Our body mistakes these isotopes for calcium. It can absorb and use them in the physiological processes of our muscles and bones. If that happens, the bone marrow can spin out of control.

Bone marrow is responsible for producing new blood cells. And when it fails, it can lead to a blood cancer known as leukemia, which is often fatal.

Damage to genetic material

Radioactive exposure can also damage genetic material in the body.

That is known to have happened after atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima at the end of World War II — children were born with deformities after the war.

Long-term effects were also observed after an accident at the Chernobyl nuclear facility in Ukraine in April 1986.

Twenty years after the catastrophe, cancer rates in most of the affected regions had risen by 40%. An estimated 25,000 people in Russia died as a result of having helped clean up the reactor site.

Almost no treatment for radiation exposure

There is hardly any treatment for radiation exposure. What’s decisive is whether a person has been “contaminated” or whether the radiation has been “incorporated” into the body.

In the case of a contamination, radioactive waste settles on the surface of the body.

It may sound ridiculous, but the first thing people should do in those cases is wash off the radioactive waste with normal soap and water.

A “radioactive incorporation” is far more dangerous. Once radioactive waste has made its way into the body, it’s almost impossible to flush it out again.

There is hardly any treatment for radiation exposure. What’s decisive is whether a person has been “contaminated” or whether the radiation has been “incorporated” into the body.

In the case of a contamination, radioactive waste settles on the surface of the body.

It may sound ridiculous, but the first thing people should do in those cases is wash off the radioactive waste with normal soap and water.

A “radioactive incorporation” is far more dangerous. Once radioactive waste has made its way into the body, it’s almost impossible to flush it out again.

Intensity and time

Radioactivity is measured in millisieverts.

Exposure with 250 millisieverts (or 0.25 sievert), over a short period of time, is enough to cause radiation sickness.

To put that in context, Germany’s Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) tends to measure an average of 2.1 millisievert in the environment. That’s over a whole year.

At a measure of 4,000 millisievert (or 4 sievert), acute radiation sickness starts quickly. The risk of death increases significantly. At 6 sievert, the risk of death is 100% — there is no chance of survival. Death is almost immediate.

March 5, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, Reference | Leave a comment

Increased radiation levels around Chernobyl probably due to military’s disturbance of soil around exclusion zone

Chernobyl radiation levels increase 20-fold after heavy fighting around the facility, Live Science, By Ben Turner  25 Feb 22,

Gamma radiation has increased to 20 times its usual levels in the area. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant and its surrounding area are showing increased radiation levels after heavy fighting between Ukrainian and Russian troops in the region, Ukrainian officials said Friday (Feb. 25).

Online data from the Chernobyl exclusion zone’s automated radiation-monitoring system shows that gamma radiation has increased twenty times above usual levels at multiple observation points, which officials from the Ukrainian nuclear agency attributed to radioactive dust thrown up by the movement of heavy military equipment in the area.   

The defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant has been under occupation by attacking Russian soldiers since Thursday (Feb. 24) after Russian president Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in the early hours of the morning. Workers at the facility, stationed there to monitor and maintain radiation levels within safe bounds, have been taken hostage by Russian troops, according to Anna Kovalenko, a Ukrainian military expert.

“The station staff is being held hostage. This threatens the security of not only Ukraine but also a significant part of Europe,” Kovalenko wrote on Facebook.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a news briefing on Thursday (Feb. 24) that the Biden administration was “outraged” by reports of Russian troops holding Chernobyl plant staff against their will and demanded their release. She warned that the action “could upend the routine civil service efforts required to maintain and protect the nuclear waste facilities.”

As one of the most radioactive places in the world, large parts of the Chernobyl exclusion zone have been closed off since the disastrous meltdown of Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986. In that year, two enormous explosions inside the plant’s reactor flipped its 2,000-ton (1,800 metric tons) lid like a coin, blanketing the surrounding 1,000-square-mile (2,600 square kilometers) with radioactive dust and reactor chunks. Following evacuation and the dousing of the nuclear fire — which cost many firefighters their lives — the reactor was sealed off and the area deemed uninhabitable by humans for the next 24,000 years. 

Heavy fighting around the plant on Thursday (Feb. 24) led to concerns that stray munitions could accidentally pierce the exploded reactor’s two layers of protection — consisting of a new, outer safe-confinement structure and an inner concrete sarcophagus — and release the deadly radioactive fallout trapped inside.  

In a contradictory statement, Igor Konashenkov, the spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, said that radiation around the plant was within normal levels and that Russian forces were working with the facilities’ staff to ensure the area’s safety……..

The site, which is just 60 miles (97 km) north of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, lies on a direct invasion route between Kyiv and the Russian forces’ northern entry point to Ukraine at the Belarusian border. 

Claire Corkhill, a professor of nuclear material degradation at the University of Sheffield in the U.K., wrote on Twitter that the gamma radiation around the Chernoybl plant “looks to have increased by around 20 times compared with a few days ago.” However, caution should be taken “not to over-interpret at this stage,” she said.

This appears to be based on a single data point,” Corkhill added in a separate tweet. “What is intriguing is that the level of radiation has increased mostly around the main routes in and out of the Chernobyl exclusion zone, as well as the reactor. This would tend to suggest that increased movement of people or vehicles may have disturbed radioactive dust.”

The highly radioactive fuel inside the Chernobyl reactor is buried deep beneath the defunct plant and is unlikely to be released unless the reactor is directly targeted, Corkhill said……. https://www.livescience.com/chernobyl-radiation-levels-rise-after-fighting

February 26, 2022 Posted by | environment, radiation, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Radiation levels increased at Chernobyl, after Russian troops seized the area.

Radiation levels have increased at Chernobyl after Russian troops seized
the area yesterday, Ukraine warns. Russian forces took control of the
defunct plant in a ‘fierce’ battle on Thursday. The condition of the plant
was unknown, but sparked fears of a radiation leak. Ukraine’s State Nuclear
Regulatory Inspectorate said Friday that higher gamma radiation levels have
been detected in the Chernobyl zone. Russian officials denied this,
claiming radiation levels at the site were normal.

 Daily Mail 25th Feb 2022

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10550897/Ukraine-Radiation-levels-increased-Chernobyl-Russian-troops-seized-area-yesterday.html

February 26, 2022 Posted by | radiation, Ukraine | Leave a comment