Saturday, March 19, 2011

Background on Radiation Damage

My cousin Dave directs mus to a crisp and succinct briefer on the how and why of radiation damage,   The main takeway is that the Japanese do seem to be making the best of a bad thing, unlike those charged with cleaning up over what is still the worst modern civilian nuclear disaster.Here's a taste:
[S]ome of the emergency workers at Chernobyl received several sieverts of radiation, and many were working "basically naked" due to the heat, allowing contaminated powder to be absorbed through their skin. In comparison, the Japanese workers are most likely very well-equipped and protected at least from direct skin doses.
The thousands of children who became sick in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster were not harmed from direct radiation or even from inhalation of radioactive particles, but from drinking milk contaminated with cesium 137. The isotope, released by the Chernobyl explosion, had contaminated the grass on which cows fed, and the radioactive substance accumulated in cows' milk. Parents, unaware of the danger, served contaminated milk to their children. "Certainly this will not happen in Japan," [a commenter] says.

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