Friday, March 30, 2012

Helping the Japan Nuclear Disaster Refugees, one comic at a time.

Japan's Disaster may be over in the minds of most people abroad, but the truth is that 80,000 people are still living in government housing.  Hundreds of thousands are refugees in their own country, and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight.  The people keep asking for Tepco to reimburse them for their losses, Tepco keeps asking the government to help them pay their dues, and the government is taxing the people by double as much over the next few years. More on that here.

The money is drying up, inside and outside of Japan.  People are no longer making the kind of donations they were the few months after March 11th.  The Nuclear Refugees of Japan are finding less and less help.

Step in Jason Minor.  He's a comic and 3D artist touched by the plight of Japan's refugees, inspired by people with big ideas, and driven by the desire to help.

With the help of some big names in the comic and fiction industry, Jason has created a 3 book anthology of fables as E-books.  They sell for a mere $3.95, are beautifully written and illustrated and the proceeds go to help the Japan nuclear refugees get medical, psychological, housing and job assistance that they so desperately need.

This E-book is worth every penny! I would buy it just for the writers' and artists' names that contributed. Currently there are only two books available with the third one in production, and I can't wait.  I've already purchased the first two, and it is hard to believe that this book is so inexpensive.  For more information on this story and a coming interview with the man that brought so many great names together, please visit Grinning Studios.

To buy the book now, please click the image:

$3.95 E-book worth every penny. 70% of the money goes to Japan charity.
Want a sample to see why these books are so awesome?
Follow the link or check out the Grinning Studios article.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Single Pill/Supplement/Injection Can Remove Radiation from the Body?Fact or Fraud?

Can a single pill, shot, or supplement get rid of radiation in the body? The simple answer is no.
The long answer is a bit more complicated.

Radiation is not a substance that can be cleared from the body.  For more information on what is radiation, please read what is radiation. Radiation comes from unstable radionuclides such as cesium 134 and 137, or Iodine 131.  As these radionuclides decay, they emit radiation in Alpha, Beta, Gamma or Neutron.

The only way to remove radiation from the body is to remove the radionuclides, and unless you live in a highly contaminated area or eat highly contaminated food, 99.9% of the radionuclides in your body will be naturally occurring. Luckily, your body removes radionuclides on it's own in what is called the biological half-life. Meaning over a specific amount of time, your body will have removed about half of the amount of a certain radio nuclide.  This biological half-life is different for each radionuclide. One example is Cesium 137, which has a biological half-life of 3-4 months, (70-100 days {but depends on age and sex, longer the older you are and longer for males.}) The decay half-life of Cesium 137 is 30 years. Your body will remove the cesium 137 on it's own long before it decays naturally.

The concern in a nuclear disaster is the release of radioactive isotopes of normally non-radioactive elements.  Iodine 131 for example.  Your thyroid gland uses Iodine to make hormones that regulates your body's metabolism. The body doesn't know the difference between Iodine and it's unstable isotope Iodine 131, and will indiscriminately use whatever is at hand that fits the need. To mitigate this effect you can flood your thyroid with stable Iodine. If there is enough stable Iodine, there is less chance your thyroid will use the radioactive isotope, but it is still only a chance and not 100%.

For other materials that your body does not normally use, such as Cesium, the reason your body absorbs and uses these elements is similar to the Iodine example, but a little different.  For this example, Cesium is similar in properties to Potassium. Potassium is regularly used by your body in many ways such as normal nerve and muscle activity. When a shortage of potassium in the body occurs, your body will use whatever is the closest match.  If Cesium 134 or cesium 137 is present, your body will use it in place of potassium.

The best way to stay safe from radionuclides is to limit your intake.  Source your food and try to buy food that has been tested and contains little or no cesium. When the testing results are not accurate, unknown or not present, buying food from areas you are more sure of is advisable.  When given a choice of three apples, two are from Fukushima, one is from America; Where one of the Fukushima apples and the American Apples are not tested, while the other Fukushima apples were tested and found to have 0 contamination, the wisest choice would be to buy the tested Fukushima apples.

Medical treatments for Radiation poisoning:

There is no magic pill that will remove radiation from the body, but there are a couple ways to remove metallic isotopes from the body.  They are all types of Chelation: a treatment type for removing certain heavy metals from the body.
Chelation treatment is where a chemical such as DMSA, DTPA, or DMPS just to name a few, is injected into the body intravenously. These Chemicals bind to metals or specific metals, allowing your body to naturally flush them from the system.

The major side effect of Chelation therapy, and this is potentially fatal, is the indiscriminate removal of metals from the body. Your body needs certain metals such as Copper, Zinc, and especially Iron to function normally. Under Chelation treatment therapy, your levels of these useful important metals may decline to dangerously low levels.  Anyone taking this treatment must be monitored for these declines, and supplemented, in some cases, urgently.

Prussian Blue is a dye that binds to some radioactive elements, such as Thallium or Cesium specifically, allowing the body to naturally remove it from the system. It is a more specific form of chellation therapy.  Prussian blue is very effective at removing Cesium from the body and is only available for this use by prescription.  Prussian blue can be found in some paints that also contain lead and other dangerous chemicals. Do not ingest Prussian blue without a doctor's supervision as you could seriously damage your body if not taken correctly or if taken by way of a product that is not intended for internal use. 

Fraudulent Claims of Radiation Removal:

I cannot stress enough how careful you should be when considering buying supplements or treatments for the removal of radiation from your body.  Many products on the market falsely promise amazing things about radiation removal and you should be aware that these are scams.

One specific supplement called NCD by Waiora claims to chelate only harmful substances from the body.  This kind of claim is the magic-bullet-miracle claim.  They further promote their product as a detoxifying supplement that will remove other toxic chemicals and products from your body while leaving everything your body needs intact.  Basically, whatever your worry is, this product is marketed to make you think it will cure your specific ailment.

NCD is not registered for sale in Japan, and is listed as a natural supplement in the USA.  Meaning they have not proven it does what they claim it does to the FDA.

Upon asking about how Waiora backs up their claims, I was given many PDFs by one of their Multi-Level-Marketing associates on the use of the active ingredient Zeolite in unverifiable scientific looking experiments; all published by the company but never seen in any scientific peer reviewed journal.  Most of the material I was given was for a chemical called clinoptilolite, and the research was not on how it is used in the body, but how it is used in dirt or the environment to remove "impurities."

The associate further assured me that the product was cleared for sale in Japan, but could not produce evidence of the registration.  Later the associate told me that their product EDN was registered but NCD had not yet been registered.  Again, no evidence of this registration was given.  The associate also offered to get me in contact with the company representative, scientist and answer-man, Rik Deitsch.  but, as of this date, no contact has been made.

Radiation Treatment Summary:

There is no treatment for radiation, only for removal of radioactive elements in the body.  Prevention is far better than the consequences of contamination. Avoid contaminated areas, avoid contaminated products, and source your food.

Chelation treatments are dangerous and should be administered by medical doctors to patients under close supervision.  Attempting treatment on your own can be dangerous if not fatal.   

For those that have been exposed to radiation contamination, please seek medical attention from a doctor.  The very first procedure should be external decontamination.

Stay Safe, Stay Smart.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What is radiation? Easy guide to Ionizing, Non-ionizing, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Neutron Radiation

What is Radiation?

Radiation is categorized in two types, ionizing and non-ionizing. Ionizing is when an atom gains a charged particle such as an electron.  Atoms have a stable amount of charged particles it needs to exist naturally. Adding ions charges the atom and causes it to interact with it's environment differently, and potentially destructively.

Non-ionizing radiation is electromagnetic radiation that does not add or subtract ionizing particles from or into an atom.  On the electromagnetic spectrum, anything below Ultraviolet is non-ionizing.

Ionizing Radiation is any energy or energetic particle that can liberate or add electrons to and from an atom or molecule causing the atom to have a positive or negative charge.

There are four types of ionizing radiation: Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Neutron.  For use in radiation testing, the only three you really need to be concerned with are Alpha, Beta, and Gamma.

Types of radiation.


Alpha Radiation is both the most potentially destructive and the least destructive at the same time.  When outside the body, Alpha radiation can't pass through your outer (dead) layer of skin.  The Alpha radiation particle is large (A Helium Nucleus) and is stopped by the first thing it runs into.  Due to the relatively large size of Alpha particles, your skin is dense enough to stop them from moving very far.  However, inside your body, if ingested or inhaled, Alpha radiation is potentially very destructive, due to the sensitive nature of internal organs. high doses can severely damage living cells and destroy DNA and is very likely to cause radiation burns and possibly cancer. On the other hand, nearly 8000 radioactive events take place inside your body every second and they all involve alpha and beta particles.  Low level exposure to alpha radiation is random in it's effects. My personal rule of thumb is, the lesser the better.

Some example elements from the Fukushima Dai Ichi nuclear power plants that emit Alpha radiation include (man-made) Americium, Plutonium, (naturally occurring) Uranium, Thorium, Radium, Radon, Polonium.


Beta radiation consists of high energy electrons ejected from a radio nuclide.  These electrons can potentially penetrate skin at higher energy levels.  Extended exposure to Beta radiation outside the body and can increase the potential for skin cancer exponentially.  Internal exposure to Beta radiation can cause radiation burns and any number of cancers when high dosage is achieved; these health effects are random and unpredictable. At low dosage, damage can potentially be mitigated by your body's immune system and basic healing.

Some example elements from the Fukushima Dai Ichi nuclear power plants that emit Beta radiation include Tritium, Iodine-121 and 131, Cesium-137, strontium-90, carbon-14, and sulfur-35.


Gamma radiation is electromagnetic radiation that can penetrate almost anything less dense than lead.  Gamma radiation is very difficult to control or contain.  Either external or internal, Gamma radiation can penetrate any part of the body and potentially cause damage in any organ or any cell. Gamma radiation often follows beta radiation.

Some example elements from the Fukushima Dai Ichi nuclear power plants that emit Gamma radiation include all the Beta emitting radio nuclides.

Gamma Radiation is very common and is produced naturally in the environment.  There is background gamma radiation everywhere.  It potentially takes a larger amount of gamma radiation exposure over an extended period of time to cause radiation burn or cancer than Beta or Alpha radiation. The reason is the greater chance that Gamma Radiation will pass through your body without any collision. Beta and Alpha, being much larger particles, have an exponentially higher chance of collision.  

Get more information:


Radioactive Decay


For more information on the types of Radiation please visit HPS.ORG


A free basic e-book by the EPA about Ionizing Radiation.
Click Here!

An E-book with lots of different information.  It has a money back guarantee, so if you don't like it, get your money back.
Click Here!

More Advanced Reading:

Serious Study:

Japan, Radiation - buying and using a Geiger counter.

This Article needs help updating.  If you see any inconsistent information, please let me know in a comment.
If you are living in Japan and have wondered if you should buy a Geiger counter, here are a few things to consider.

1: The Japanese government is not testing all products.  The government is doing random tests of foods mostly from the Fukushima area, but some grown outside Fukushima as well. Information about the tests the government have done can be found at Plenty of food is going to market without ever being tested.

2: Just because a product has been tested and discovered to contain radioactive cesium or iodine, doesn't stop it from reaching the market.  Japan has specific levels of radiation allowed in the food that can be sold.

3: There is no such thing as a "safe" level of radiation.  Any radiation can cause cancer.  Generally, the less, the better.  Though radiation outside of your body is usually brief and when you move away from the radiation source you no longer are in danger.  Food you eat is a different story entirely.  The radiation in food can easily be stored and used by your body.  When this happens, the radioactive particles don't go away and continue to expose your internal organs to harmful radiation for the rest of your life.

4: The Japanese government is only testing for Cesium and Iodine.  They are not testing for uranium, strontium, plutonium or any other number of radioactive particles that are created by the three dai-ichi nuclear power plants that melted down; Even though radioactive Strontium has been found 250km away from fukushima in Yokohama. See this link for more information.

5. Many foods are not labeled as to where they come from and none of it is policed by any organization.  There are laws for some products but no enforcement for those laws.  For more information on food safety, please watch this excellent youtube video: Food safety in Japan.

6. Food is not the only consumer product that is contaminated with radiation.  Used cars are another recent danger.  Please see this link and this link. How many other products might have radiation contamination that you never would have considered?

7. Radiation "hot spots" can be found hundreds of kilometers from Fukushima.  These are areas you should avoid if you know about them.  There may be areas you frequently visit.  Have those areas been tested yet?

Buying and using a Geiger counter.

There are hundreds of Geiger counters on the market.  Some ranging in price from tens to thousands of dollars or thousands to hundreds of thousands of yen.  Even if you buy a Geiger counter, would you know how to use it?  How do you use a Geiger counter?  What is a Geiger counter?  Let me answer these questions for you.

What is a Geiger Counter?

The word Geiger comes from the use of a Geiger-Muller tube.  A Geiger-Muller tube is a metal tube containing a noble gas and electrical leads.  When radiation passes through the tube, it creates an electric charge or pulse.  The word counter means to simply count the amount of pulses over a specified amount of time. Geiger-counter.

You may know a Geiger Counter as a device that measures radiation.  But there are many devices and many names for the same thing.  Here is a list.

Geiger Counter
Survey meter

They all measure radiation in some way.   A geiger counter usually measures with a Geiger-Muller tube, and the others can use the Geiger-Muller tube or a scintillation detector. A scintillation detector is a much more sensitive detector.

Most Geiger-Counters are hand held units where you can't even see the tube.  They can be inexpensive, but are not very sensitive.  Meaning, you can use one to test radiation and find hot spots, but for checking food you won't get a very good reading.

For testing food, you need a survey meter, scaler, or ratemeter. Any of these will be a boxlike device with a handle and either an analog display or a digital numerical display.  They will have a cable and a probe detector that connects to them.  The probe can be a Geiger-Muller tube or a Scintillation detector.  These units can cost a few hundred to a few thousand dollars or ten thousand to a couple hundred thousand Yen. These units can be much more sensitive than the standard Geiger counter and are necessary for testing food.

Buying a Geiger counter, scaler, ratemeter or survey meter.

When buying one of these radiation detectors, the price can be a major stumbling block.  A $500 unit in the USA could run you double that in Japan.  I am not exactly sure why.  I decided to buy a Ludlum model 3, model 2241-2 or model 2221. (click the models to see their perspective pages.) I found the price at Ludlum's website for each of these units. But the pricing is domestic pricing (USA pricing) only.  They won't ship the item to you outside of the USA.  You must contact one of their licensed sellers in Japan.  The licensed sellers quoted prices 2.2x higher than the USA, even though the US dollar is so weak, and the Japanese Yen is so strong.  When asked why the price was so high I was given this response.

"Your price was US domestic price of Ludlum, here is Japan.

The cost is not only ludlums equipment, such as transportation, consumption
tax, insurance and remmitance charge, so about twice.
And instruction translation cost for Japanese peaple and some informations
such as attached pdf files are included."

But later, he said he would give me a discount of 10% and then said I would have to pay tax which he stated above was included in the earlier price he quoted me.

Ludlum is not willing to sell to me directly because they need an End-User agreement.  Some countries they are not allowed to sell their products to. The End-User agreement just says that they have made sure to the best of their ability that they are not selling a product that could get in the hands of, for instance, someone in North Korea.

One of the more important parts of buying a meter and detector new is calibration.  Calibration means to set the unit to be as sensitive as possible without error.  Calibration is not something the layman can do on their own.

If you don't mind buying a used meter or can find a unit that has been recently calibrated for the detector it comes with, you can save a lot of time and money.  If you buy a used unit for example on Ebay, and the seller is willing to ship it to you in Japan, then you can save more than 50% on the price. 

What Geiger counter should you buy?

If you just want to test areas for hotspots, any geiger counter should do. I would suggest the SOEKS Ecotester.  which is the unit at the bottom left of the picture.

If you want to test your garden soil, or the food you buy then you are going to need a much more sensitive unit.  for these measurements, you should get a survey meter of some sort, and a GM pancake detector.  An example is the top left unit in the picture.  That is a Johnson survey meter and pancake probe.  It could run you from $600 to $2000 used.

Another option is a survey meter and scintillation probe. Scintillation probes are often made of Sodium Iodide Crystals that are reactive and glow in the presence of radiation. They are very sensitive, but won't detect all radiation like the pancake probe, which is a problem since there are three kinds of radiation. The three kinds of radiation are Alpha, Beta and Gamma.  For more information on these, please come back for my next article.

How to use a Geiger counter?

Geiger counters give readings in the following:

CPM: Counts Per Minute, corresponding directly to the audible beeps or clicks per minute.  CPM is the standard unit of measurement for alpha and beta radiation, and is also commonly used to express background radiation in numerical terms.

mR/hr: milli-Roentgens per hour, or 1/1000 of a Roentgen per hour, a standard unit of measurement for radioactivity, popular in the United States and Israel.

µR/hr: micro-Roentgens per hour, or one millionth of a Roentgen per hour.

mSv/hr: milli-Sieverts per hour.

µSv/hr: micro-Sieverts per hour, a standard unit of measurement for radioactivity, popular in Canada and overseas.

Any one of these can be converted to the other fairly simply, but it is best to have a unit that measures using the unit of measurement you are most familiar with.

Each unit will have it's own special settings but here is an explanation of  how you should measure the radiation in food using a CDV-700 and standard GM pancake probe.

1. Set the unit where you will be testing the food before you put the food down for testing.

2. Test the ambient radiation for at least 5 minutes, or more for a better reading of ambient radiation.  Record that number

3. Add your food to the test.  Test again for at least 5 minutes.

4.Subtract your ambient radiation reading from the new reading.  Anything left over would be the radiation output of the food.

If you do this test many times and average the results, you will have a much more accurate account of the radiation content of the food.

Without a spectrometer, there is no way to know what radioactive elements might be in the food you test. A cheap spectrometer will run you $5,000 or more, and they won't be very accurate until you get into the tens of thousands. At least with this method you can test your food and throw anything away that shows a large increase in radiation measurement. Any radiation is bad, and it shouldn't be necessary to know exactly what radioactive elements you are dealing with.  Just throw anything that is radioactive in the trash.

You  can also use this same technique for measuring soil radiation.  Later, I will give a list of all the places and things you will most want to check for radiation.  Keep coming back for more!

Japan, Radiation: Opinion.

For those of you that have not realized, I live in Japan.  And for those of you that somehow have not heard, Japan had a huge earthquake on March 11th 2011.(Related video: Buildings shaking like trees.) The Earthquake was devastating, but far from the worst of it.  A giant tidal wave came upon the north east coast and lay the land and anyone unlucky enough to be on it, to waste. (Related video: Tsunami's insanely destructive power)  Still, the trouble wasn't over. A nuclear power plant had three reactors go into meltdown and spew radioactive material all over Honshu, the largest island that contains the majority of Japan's citizens. But still, it isn't over. (Related video:Three full nuclear meltdowns)

The latest problem is trust.  The news in Japan continues to contradict itself daily. (Related links: Under reported severity Leak estimate doubled Radiation errors erode confidence)  The government continues to downplay the disaster. (related link: Sociologias Blog)  Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power - the owners of the power plant) has lied, cheated on public opinion, and now wants the government to give it money to keep running: So now you can add theft of the taxpaying to the list. (related links: Tepco lied to us. Quote Michio Kaku. Plutonium Leak/report leak. Nuclear companies stacked public opinions. Tepco asks for 700billion yen aid from gov't) Everything has had radiation levels grow: from land, to water, to rice, to tea to Cars.  Yes, even cars are radioactive.  Some cars have such high radioactive levels, they cannot be exported.  (Related link: (Dealeres selling radioactive used cars.)
Here are the stories I am just flabbergasted about.

How bad is it in Japan? Even though they aren't talking about it in the news much, the problems have not disappeared.  They've gotten worse.

How bad is it in Japan? Get an idea of how big the problem is.

Radioactive cars. When dealers can't export their cars because of high radiation, they sell the cars to unwitting Japanese. The dealer's remark - "What am I supposed to do?  Take a loss?" When given the option to sell radioactive products and make money, or not, and potentially save lives, the obvious option is what? 

Is it or isn't it radioactive? Radioactive Rice. This satirical mash up of news reports illustrates how confusing it can be to live in Japan.  First they find radiation, then they don't.  How can they say all the rice harvests are clean when they previously said some were stopped from being sold because of high radiation? The farmer's view is that he feels he is being punished unfairly.  Why?  Because he can't sell his rice that he worked hard to grow, and the government isn't going to give him any sort of compensation.  The message to farmers is clear, avoid being tested at all costs and do whatever you can to fool the system, or your livelyhood will be taken away from you with no remuneration.

Outrage as Japan lifts radiation limit for kids. So what happens when the radiation levels exceed the safety limits?  Evacuate the people?  Decontaminate?  Not at all! Just raise the limits.

Radiation Contamination Not localized. In this video, we learn the contamination is far worse than thought, and the standards to protect the citizens in Japan are far worse than that of Russia during the Chernobyl meltdown.  Lovely.

More information on the state of Japan's radiation fallout. A great video that explains many more problems we in Japan are dealing with. 

What I see - Japan, Radiation news.  The People of Japan, mostly clueless.

Living and working in Japan, I have had many opportunities to speak with the people I come in contact with about the nuclear disaster. The first thing that immediately presents itself is defensive postures.  If I have a conversation with someone and the topic comes up in my guiding efforts, the person or persons I am speaking to will often become vague, cross their arms, point their feet to the nearest exit and give short uninspired opinions and answers.  They don't want to talk about it.

I have also had to consider how much people know about nuclear radiation.  My wife is Japanese, and so my Japanese family is my subject in this matter. Frankly, they don't know anything about radiation or nuclear science, or science of any kind.  They are farmers, fishermen, craftsmen and businessmen. Their knowledge on the matter comes from what they see on the news or read in the newspaper.  The news they are getting is worrisome but so difficult to understand and so often changing that they can't follow it.  They tell me they have to just trust the government will do what they can to keep them safe.  And what else can they do?  They can't leave their lives, they have nowhere to go.  They have no voice in the matter because they don't understand what is going on.  They have no desire to get involved because it could cause trouble.  Life is already tedious and difficult for them, they can't afford the extra hassle.

I have tried to educate as many people as possible, but I am tripped up by my low Japanese ability.  Unless you have a college level Japanese language proficiency, it is incredibly difficult to explain any science. Even if you do explain it, unless the other person has a similar Japanese language proficiency, they will most likely not be able to understand.  If you try to explain with metaphor or analogy, it becomes a tedious annoying battle that no one wants to go through.  Case in point, my father in-law never went to high school. Explaining anything to him elicits a smile and "what are you talking about?" as if to say that you are wasting your time.

There is radiation all around us and it isn't possible for the government to keep us safe from every area, every contaminated food, and every consumer product. The only way to stay safe is to leave, or measure everything yourself and either pay for decontamination or decontaminate yourself.  And that is what my wife and I will be doing.  We are buying a Ludlum model 3 Radiation survey meter with a 44-9 pancake detector scintilator.  I have done a lot of research, and this device will provide us with the most accurate readings for safety measurement in all aspects of Radiation exposure. from area and hotspot radiation, to food and water, and soil measurements.  In the next few weeks I will be writing about how to minimize your radiation exposure while living in Japan and after we receive the survey meter, I will publish the effectiveness of the advice I give.

Expect this information soon!!!

If you would like to donate to my projects or to help improve my blog, there is a donation option in the top left sidebar.

Keep coming back for more.

Japan Radiation: Radioactive Apple.

Have you seen this tongue in cheek comic depicting Snow White asking if the apple giving old lady is from Japan? The comic was published in the International Herald Tribune. And though it is damaging to the Japanese food exports, it hits pretty close to home. There is just not enough resources to measure and keep all possibly tainted food in Japan from reaching the market. Two big slips were made already. One including tainted beef and another including tainted Tea. The items had already been put on the shelves of stores, purchased and ingested by consumers. The tainted beef was actually fed to school students for their school lunches.

Any hint of letting this information out is frowned upon. Websites have lost entire pages and news sites have deleted entire columns. But when it comes to Print, there is nothing anyone can do to prevent it from being seen by the public. That comic put the Japanese Consulate in New York in a Sissy fit. They complained to the Herald Tribune, and for good reason. They said Japanese exports are being verified by customs officials in both countries. This is true, but not 100% of the food - even with both countries verifying - can be tested. However, the big question is, what about the people living in Japan? How safe is their food when they have already been exposed to highly contaminated food products two times that we know of?

Though the Japanese government is not being completely transparent, their culpability is uncertain at best. Who is inspecting the inspectors, how is the process being done exactly? Without this transparency, the uncertainty is incontrovertibly concerning. There is no way to know how much radiation intake a person is receiving from food in Japan unless they do the testing themselves. How can you trust a government that appears to update their statements or apologize for their gaffes every other day? If the heads of the government have to resign because of too many mistakes, what does that say about the government's reliability?

I'd sure like to know who to believe.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Japan, disaster, radiation, and Geiger counters - How to live in Japan?

Al Jazeera posted a fantastic article on the state of Japan. Fukushima was the main point of interest for the article but the sentiments expressed are much wider throughout Japan. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has made huge mistakes, and the government's culpability is unclear. What is clear is that the people are left to fend for themselves for the most part.

Since the power plant is still spewing out radioactive particles into the environment, the situation isn't a simple clean up. They haven't stopped the crisis yet. What this means is radioactive Cesium deposits in the soil where farmers grow their crops, Radioactive particles in the foliage where animals eat their meals, and it all moves up the food chain.

TEPCO has often said the radiation levels are not serious outside of the 20km exclusion zone. This is true if you are only gauging by ambient radiation. Ambient radiation is the radiation that is detected by holding a Geiger counter in the air and getting a reading. What they don't talk about is the tons of radioactive particles that gather with the rain. Take another reading near a storm drain and you will get startlingly different results.

The government has raised the "safe" level of radioactive contamination in food up to 500 becquerels per kilo. This doesn't mean that they suddenly realized that the safe levels were too low, but that if they don't raise the levels, food prices will become much higher as local produce can't make it to the market. For people living in Japan, that means eating irradiated food. There aren't enough testers in Japan to measure all the food going to market. On more than one occasion food has been sold and consumed only to find out later it contains dangerous levels of radioactivity.

So how do we keep ourselves safe? The only way is to take your own precautions. Don't buy food from Fukushima and surrounding prefectures... even though the farmers are not compensated for their unsellable food. Buy your own radiation detector and test your food and environment. Areas that are unsafe should be cleaned up. Food that is unsafe should be thrown away. I suggest you try to post the unsafe information for others to see as well.

Testing food isn't as easy as it sounds. In order to get an accurate reading, you can't use a Geiger Muller tube/Geiger Counter, You need to use a more sensitive scintillator. A calibrated C DV-700 with a alpha/beta/gamma scintillation detector would give you a basic level for environment contamination. You also need to adjust for ambient radiation.

To find out your ambient level, do a reading for about an hour in one spot; write it down, for this you need a ratemeter or better yet, a scaler. Then add your food stuff to the test for an hour and subtract the ambient from the final reading. An even better way would be to get an Isotope identifier/counter or a Becquerel meter, though I haven't been able to find many of either and the ones I have found were costly in the $10k range.

A used scaler might cost you a few hundred dollars and a good scintillation probe may cost you a few hundred dollars. I highly suggest this route because the cheap Geiger Muller tube/Geiger counters won't help you measure food.

As for the environment? With your Geiger Counter, you should test areas where dust, and rainwater gathers or flows. Anything that has a high reading should be wiped, washed or cleaned and tested again. Use protective gear when doing this. You don't want to inhale or ingest these radioactive particles. If the level's are too high, such as more than 50 microseiverts per hour, you should hire professionals to do the cleaning for you. Don't expect any compensation from your city, or municipality, but keep your receipts.

Stay safe in the land of Japan!

Link to the Al Jazera article: Fighting for a radiation-free Japan