Japanese Medical Tourism Currently Stopped

Dr. Says Don’t Panic over Fukushima-but Do Something

Japanese Hospitals on MediBidBy Jane M. Orient, M.D.

One of my personal projects is to help distribute RadStickers to American firefighters and police officers so they will have them in the event of a real nuclear disaster, such as detonation of a terrorist (or North Korean) nuclear bomb. I have a RadSticker on my credit card, and also carry a credit-card sized SIRAD (self-indicating instant radiation alert dosimeter, see http://www.jplabs.com). In addition, I have a NukAlert, which is a dose-rate meter that chirps like a bird if it detects dose rates greater than 0.1 rad/hr (http://www.nukalert.com).

My SIRAD is showing a dose of between 2 and 5 rads because I usually forget to take it out of my carry-on luggage before it goes through the x-ray machine. It has made about 20 trips through there by now. It makes me wonder how much the TSA agent gets from standing by the machine all day. It is shielded, of course, but how effectively? I don’t see any of those lead aprons that x-ray technicians wear. If I worked for TSA, I’d have a SIRAD in my pocket. Agents used to be issued dosimeters.

The main purpose of RadStickers is to prevent panic. They are not very sensitive, so they are not going to pick up background radiation, or the excess radiation from a load of bananas or pottery. The lowest reading is 25 rads. An acute dose of less than 100 rads probably wouldn’t make you sick. A dose between 300 and 400 rads causes acute radiation sickness and a 50% chance of death. There’s a widespread belief that the teeniest dose might increase your risk of getting cancer in 20 years, say adding 1% to the 25% risk you have anyway, but there is also much evidence that low doses are actually protective.

For perspective, here are some numbers. At the gate of one Japanese plant during a fire, the dose-rate was temporarily as high as 11,000 microsieverts/hr, quickly dropping back to 600 microsieverts/hr. The level at the edge of the evacuation zone was 300 microsieverts/hr. In the older radiation-protection units, that’s from 1.1 rem/hr down to 0.03 rem/hr. The dose from one chest x-ray is about 0.01 rem and from a full-body spiral CT scan up to 10 rem. (In this context 1 rem is about the same as 1 rad.) If you stood at the gate of the plant for 10 hours at the highest dose-rate, you’d get as much radiation as from the total-body CT scan.

Irresponsible terror-mongers have been distributing material on the internet predicting an instantly lethal dose of 750 rads hitting western and intermountain North America within 10 days. This is preposterous.

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One response

“We don’t know the total death toll as yet, but so far the score is earthquake and tsunami around 10,000; nuclear energy, 0. But the damaged nuclear reactors are nonetheless at the top of the news.”

The death toll is nothing to fear they are dead and will remain so… The rectors are the top of the news with good reason. Your nuclear plants are not supposed to explode after an earthquake or a tsunami the fact that they did is important news because lots of people live in close proximity to nuclear power plants that may explode the same way

If you don’t want to die in tsunami don’t build at sea level and you will have nothing to fear. But if the government and Industry put a nuclear plant in your neighbored hood you may have something to worry about.

This endless blathering about how many died in the the tsunami compared to the nuclear plant failure is completely mindless drivel. If you really want to do something useful contact your local government and demand to know how the nuclear plant in your community plans to handle a similar problem.

If they plan to break down into tears after the mess and say sorry like the Tepco executives then you might want them to come up with a better plan or move their plant elsewhere.

That is why Fukushima is the real news story.

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