Follow me on Twitter, please. I’m trying to extract real news and science from the fear mongering surrounding the disaster in Japan.
Because of damage to Japanese nuclear reactors, radiation is being released.
The amount released has exposed dozens of people who live or work quite close to the reactors and will increase their chances of radiation illness and even cancer. But, the short term danger to those of us hundreds or thousands of miles away appears to be non-existent. Radiation getting into the winds which blow from Japan to the West Coast will not be dangerous even if there’s a complete Chernobyl-type meltdown.
A longer term fear involves contamination of the atmosphere, crops and water with long-lived radioactive iodine and other isotopes. Even this longer view still doesn’t point to any dramatic rise in the risk of illnesses including cancer for Americans. Experts are recommending postponing planned trips to Japan for a variety of reasons mostly involving loss of infrastructure, but they also caution that increased radiation exposure could occur the closer one gets to the cities in Japan containing these damaged nuclear plants.
To summarize, we don’t need potassium iodide right now, we don’t need to lose any sleep and we do need better sources of energy than nuclear power plants. We’re very much OK and not at risk from nuclear meltdowns 5000 miles away.
My thoughts are with the Japanese and those of you here with family in harm’s way.