Radiation equivalence

japan-radiation-levels-spinach-milk

“It’s not like if you ate it right away you would be harmed,” Edano said. “It would not be good to continue to eat it for some time.”

Edano said the amount of radiation detected in the milk was the equivalent to one CT scan – the series of X-rays used for medical tests – if consumed continually for a year.

I’m not sure it really works like that, this is misleading because it is comparing two different types of radiation. A CT scan is also done for medical reasons, so it is clearly ethical when it can provide information which can save someone (all that is necessary is that it is beneficial on balance).

The main difference is that the CT scan will effect the whole body, but if you ingest radioactive iodine it will be concentrated in the relatively smaller area of your pituitary gland.

I think this is something about the difference between ionising and non-ionising radiation, and the difference between Sievert scale and Grey or rad.

I also noticed in the media we are constantly confusing what is harmful with that is measurable. There is an assumption that if we can’t measure the harm then none was done. But to be statistically significant you would probably need a lot more deaths, and you would still be able to argue it was dependent on other events.

Should take 2 weeks before radiation emitted into the atmosphere in Japan (or Korea or China) reaches UK, half life of radioactive Iodine is 8 days, so it should be reduced to 1/4 level emitted there, and presumably gets a lot more diluted and gets washed from atmosphere. There is still a risk of radiation wash out if all the cloud of gas is deposited into a small location, for example because of a thunderstorm.

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