In light of the recent nuclear disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant many people throughout the world will have concerns about the health implications for anyone unfortunate enough to suffer exposure. The topic of nuclear energy and the consequences of any such disaster sometimes don`t get covered enough untill something major happens and then of course everyone starts to talk about it.
Things can tick away very quietly and nicely and then all of a sudden, Bam, something serious happens and only then is it evident just what the true scale and impact such events can have on our lives actually is.
To put some peoples mind at rest let us spend some time looking at the basic Radiation Exposure information.
There are in fact two different types of radiation, these are-ionizing and nonionizing.
Nonionizing Radiation Exposure comes in the form of light, radio waves, microwaves and radar. This type of radiation does not normally entail damage to the skin tissue.
Ionizing radiation Exposure is radiation that produces immediate chemical effects on human tissue .
Radiation sickness in humans for example occurs when they are exposed to very large doses of ionizing radiation. Acute radiation exposure is when a person is exposed to Radiation as one large exposure whereas Chronic exposure is caused by a series of small exposures spread over time.
Radiation dosages are measured in sieverts – but because these are so big we’re talking about millisieverts mSv (a thousandth of a sievert). Rather than being an exact unit of size (because different types of radiation have different effects) an mSv measures the effective radiation dose. According to the WNA, each mSv of radiation “produces the same biological effect”.
The guide below from The World Nuclear Association puts these figures into perspective.
10,000 mSv (10 sieverts) as a short-term and whole-body dose would cause immediate illness, such as nausea and decreased white blood cell count, and subsequent death within a few weeks.
Between 2 and 10 sieverts in a short-term dose would cause severe radiation sickness with increasing likelihood that this would be fatal.
1,000 mSv (1 sievert) in a short-term dose is about the threshold for causing immediate radiation sickness in a person of average physical attributes, but would be unlikely to cause death. Above 1000 mSv, severity of illness increases with dose.
If doses greater than 1000 mSv occur over a long period they are less likely to have early health effects, but they create a definite risk that cancer will develop many years later.
Above about 100 mSv, the probability of cancer (rather than the severity of illness) increases with dose. The estimated risk of fatal cancer is 5 of every 100 persons exposed to a dose of 1000 mSv (ie. if the normal incidence of fatal cancer were 25%, this dose would increase it to 30%).
50 mSv is, conservatively, the lowest dose at which there is any evidence of cancer being caused in adults. It is also the highest dose which is allowed by regulation in any one year of occupational exposure. Dose rates greater than 50 mSv/yr arise from natural background levels in several parts of the world but do not cause any discernible harm to local populations.
20 mSv/yr averaged over 5 years is the limit for radiological personnel such as employees in the nuclear industry, uranium or mineral sands miners and hospital workers (who are all closely monitored).
10 mSv/yr is the maximum actual dose rate received by any Australian uranium miner.
3-5 mSv/yr is the typical dose rate (above background) received by uranium miners in Australia and Canada.
3 mSv/yr (approx) is the typical background radiation from natural sources in North America, including an average of almost 2 mSv/yr from radon in air.
2 mSv/yr (approx) is the typical background radiation from natural sources, including an average of 0.7 mSv/yr from radon in air. This is close to the minimum dose received by all humans anywhere on Earth.
0.3-0.6 mSv/yr is a typical range of dose rates from artificial sources of radiation, mostly medical.
0.05 mSv/yr, a very small fraction of natural background radiation, is the design target for maximum radiation at the perimeter fence of a nuclear electricity generating station. In practice the actual dose is less.
My opinion for what it is worth is that the governing bodies throughout the world need to get together,pool their resources, putting prejudice and religion etc to one side and set about making this world a safer place for our children before it`s too late. i can hear you all saying, “oh, what a lovely, ideal world he thinks we live in” , i completely understand that, but if we don`t all keep saying it then when will they ever listen.
Sorry for straying from my usual content but we just never know how close we are from sailing in to the final wind.