MEDIA ROOTS- An extremely harrowing aspect of the Fukushima meltdown is the amount of radiation that has been expelled and will continue to be released into the atmosphere as a result. A recent report from the Japanese government states that the amount of radioactive caesium-137 released by the disaster is so far equivalent to that of 168 Hiroshima nuclear bombs, and that 34 different locations around Fukushima already exceed the radiation standards of inhabitability used for the Chernobyl disaster. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states the following about caesium-137:
“External exposure to large amounts of Cs-137 can cause burns, acute radiation sickness, and even death. Exposure to Cs-137 can increase the risk for cancer because of exposure to high-energy gamma radiation. Internal exposure to Cs-137, through ingestion or inhalation, allows the radioactive material to be distributed in the soft tissues, especially muscle tissue, exposing these tissues to the beta particles and gamma radiation and increasing cancer risk.”
As scary as this seems, it’s important to put it into perspective. There is nothing much we can do about what is going on in Japan right now, but there are things we can do to reduce the risk of over exposure to our bodies by continuing to be healthy and conscious consumers.
“An atomic bomb is designed to enable mass-killing and mass-destruction by causing blast waves and heat rays and releasing neutron radiation,” the Tokyo Shimbun daily quoted a government official as saying. “It is not rational to make a simple comparison only based on the amount of isotopes released.”
Read more about Fukushima Caesium Leaks ‘Equal 168 Hiroshimas’
© 2011 Agence France Presse
Photo by Flickr user RINKRATZ