Dear Friends and Residents of this interdependent global home,
I cannot give magical answers to everyone’s needs at this time of crisis with the Japanese nuclear disaster. However, I can give you a few tips on how to listen to the official “expert” statements given on CNN or NHK or other networks, plus some tips on what to eat or not eat.
First, there is a great difference between medical use of radiation, with direct risk and benefit to a patient and the random distribution of a comparable dose to a large population. In the latter case the risk is magnified and the benefit goes to filling some general society benefit. Hence the individual harm may be sacrificed for the military or economic good of a country. How or why we must make this trade off has never been well understood by the public or well explained and agreed to by reasonable civil society.
There is also a significant difference between internal contamination with radioactive debris from a nuclear disaster and direct irradiation from an external medical devise under the control of a professional who can ask for your consent, limit the exposure and take care of any problems which might unwittingly occur. When internal radioactive tracers are used in medicine they have short half lives (both biologically and physically) and are not similar to plutonium, uranium or thorium or other debris found in nuclear disasters.
Nevertheless, both exposures can be significant, and require some consent by those at risk. Unfortunately, this prior consent is absent in a disaster!
Persons with good general health and good basic nutritional health will fare better when the food, air or water is contaminated since the body normally chooses uncontaminated food when it is available to it. Avoid eating salads if you are suspicious of it being contaminated by fallout or contaminated water, and always wash carefully fruits and vegetables to remove any surface contamination. Do not take Potassium Iodide without medical supervision. The iodine 131 has a short half life, and probably will not travel very far from the source unless the release from the reactor is explosive. If there is radioactive iodine in milk then there probably also is cobalt 60, a very dangerous gamma radiation emitter. The inorganic cobalt is incorporated into organic vitamin B 12 in the udder of the cow and becomes much more dangerous to the liver when ingested in milk. Be careful to get sufficient rest so that the body can undertake efficient repair of any damage. Keep hydrated with the best water available to you!
Although it is true that alpha radiation, the primary radiation in early fallout, can be stopped by paper, when this same radioactivity is released inside the body it does about 20 times the cellular damage as the equivalent dose of X-ray.
I like to hold the food in my hands and thank it for its goodness. Then I ask that it protect me from any harmful contaminants it holds. I think this a sort of modern Prayer before Meals, and not irrelevant under the circumstances.
I wish you well, and especially hold in prayer the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and all the other radiation victims/survivors of our world, for they are terrified by this massive threat which they hoped no one would ever have to suffer again!