I’ll also provide some perspective, something the main stream media won’t be doing.
From the NYT 1981:
”Radiation” and ”radioactivity” have become scare words, in part because of the sensational and often emotional tone of news reports dealing with these topics.
There is no public concern about the radioactive potassium-40 which flows in our bloodstream, about ingestion of radioactive carbon-14 or about the residues scattered by Mount St. Helens. But when the equally harmless radioactive krypton was vented from Three Mile Island, the news media followed the operation as if it were potentially of catastrophic dimensions.
From Forbes 2013: The amount of radiation people have lived with for millennia is far greater than we imagined in the 20th century. Quoting Forbes:
We’ve decided that, in an overall 300 mrem background, reducing this risk by lowering the dose from 50 mrem to something like 10 mrem, is worth, say, spending an additional $100 billion.
Is the risk from 50 mrem worth this? The same risk as moving from Los Angeles to Colorado? Do we generally spend $1 billion to save a life in this country? Could it be better spent on real health care, now? Immunizations? Tackling epidemics? Addressing childhood obesity? Paying down the debt? Outlawing airplane trips? Are virtual people in the future facing a trivial risk more worthy of our help than U.S. citizens now?
The article points to the actual data from Japanese survivors of the nuclear bombs and people living in those areas afterwards. It also points out that 2,000 hours of flying above 25,000ft (7,600m) exposes one to 1,740 mrem of radiation. By today’s laws and regulations that is a high dose of radiation. But, new science shows it is not, which matches with millions of people’s real life experience.
The models estimate radiation reaching the West Coast and the Aleutians from the Fukushima nuclear plant will see radiation levels increase by anywhere from 1-20 Bq/m3,while Hawaiian Islands could see up to 30 Bq/m3 [Beherns et al. 2012, Nakano et al. 2012, Rossi et al. 2013 ].
You will probably get more radiation from eating a banana (0.1 µSv) than from Fukushima. Just sleeping next to your lover will expose you to 0.05 µSv. (Reference) Those living in Tokyo could offset the radiation increase they will experience in a year by skipping ONE dental x-ray or giving up smoking. (Reference)
Three Mile Island – 1979 – The Kemeny Commission from Metropolitan Edison and NRC data reported a maximum of 480 petabecquerels (13 million curies) of radioactive noble gases (primarily xenon) were released by the event. Also, 481–629 GBq (13–17 curies) of thyroid cancer-causing iodine-131 were released. But to date, epidemiological studies have not linked a single instance of cancer with the accident… that claim may need some salt…
Mt. St. Helen – 1980 – (Detailed Reference) More than Three Mile Island. Far, far less than Chernobyl.
Chernobyl – 1986 – 50 to 60% of all core radio-iodine in the reactor was released or about 1760 PBq (1760 × 1015 becquerels), which in mass units is 0.4 kg of iodine-131. Caesium-137 was released for 85 PBq of radiation. The 8.5 × 1016 Bq released would be produced by 24 kilograms (53± lbs) of caesium-137. Tellurium-132 was released for an estimated 1150 PBq. Xenon-133 was released for an estimated at 5200 PBq, however Xe-133 has a half-life of 5 days.
Radioactivity Conversion Table
Converting between radiation measures is not a simple feet-to-meters type conversion. It is more complex than that and such conversions can be misleading. But, we humans will do it anyway. So:
So, we are talking 1-20 Bq/m3 of low impact Caesium-137 reaching the coast verses 481–629 gigabecquerels of high impact iodine-131 from Three Mile Island with no identified cases of cancer. This is like getting shot with a gain of sand…
Fukushima as a radiation problem is a non-issue outside of Japan. Just pay attention to where your tuna comes from.