Summary Of Key Health Threats From Fukushima Radioactive Substances

Tyler Durden's picture

Now that both food and drinking water in Japan have been confirmed to be tainted with various stages of radioactive toxicity, Reuters provides a quick summary of the impact the three key fallout isotopes (Iodine 131, Caesium 134 and Caesium 137) have on human health, and what to look for to determine if one may have injested just a tad too much of those glow in the dark shoots...

From Reuters

Below are the three radioactive substances
health experts are most concerned about, their detected levels in Japan
and what they mean for human health:


Leafy green vegetables in Japan were found this week to contain up to 22,000 becquerels of iodine-131 for every kilogram.

Such a level exceeds the limit set by the European Union by 11 times. Becquerel is a measure of radioactivity.

a kilogram of such vegetables would give half the amount of radiation
typically received by the average person from the natural environment in
a year.

Eating this amount every
day for 45 days will accumulate 50 millisieverts, the annual radiation
limit set for a nuclear plant worker. Millisievert quantifies the amount
of radiation absorbed by human tissues.

Exposure to 100 millisieverts a year increases the risk of cancer. That is equivalent to about three whole body CT scans.

inhaled or swallowed, iodine-131 concentrates in the thyroid gland and
increases the risk of thyroid cancer. Children, fetuses and young adults
are especially vulnerable.

risk of thyroid cancer can be lowered by taking potassium iodide pills,
which helps prevent the uptake of the radioactive iodine.

iodine-131 disintegrates relatively quickly and its radioactivity is
halved every 8 days. This means it loses all its harmfulness in 80 days.

Caesium-134 and Caesium-137

Vegetables in Japan have also been found tainted with up to 14,000 becquerels of cesium for every kilogram.

That exceeds the EU limit by over 11 times.

a kilogram of such tainted vegetables every day for a month would
accumulate radiation equivalent to a full body CT scan - or 20

External exposure to large amounts of
radioactive cesium can cause burns, acute radiation sickness and death.
It can also increase the risk of cancer. Ingesting or inhaling cesium
allows it to be distributed in soft tissues, especially muscle tissue,
increasing cancer risk. It can also cause spasms, involuntary muscular
contractions and infertility.

Unlike iodine, uptake of radioactive cesium cannot be prevented once the person is exposed.

This substance is of more concern than iodine-131 because it is very hardy and takes far longer to disintegrate.

has a half life of 30 years, meaning it takes that long to reduce its
radioactivity by half. It will take at least 240 years for this
contaminant to exhaust all its radioactivity.

Caesium-134 has a half life of 2 years, which means it will take about 20 years for it to become harmless.

are the effects of short-term, high-level exposure to radiation, as
published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Unlike cancer,
these effects from acute radiation exposure usually appear quickly,
causing what is known as radiation sickness, which includes symptoms
like nausea, hair loss and skin burns. If the dose is fatal, death
usually occurs within two months.

* Exposure to 50-100 millisieverts: changes in blood chemistry.

* 500: nausea, within hours.

* 700: vomiting

* 750: hair loss, within 2-3 weeks

* 900: diarrhea

* 1,000: hemorrhage

* 4,000: possible death within 2 months, if no treatment

* 10,000: destruction of intestinal lining, internal bleeding and death within 1-2 weeks

*20,000: damage to the central nervous system and loss of consciousness within minutes, and death within hours or days.

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Yield2Greatness's picture

Must suck to be in Japan now.

Harlequin001's picture

Whatever the cost of nuclear energy, they would have been better off with coal.

Flakmeister's picture

No they wouldn't... go back to the cave you crawled out from....

Highrev's picture

Going back to the "cave" just might be the only viable option we have.

The energy ratio (energy out/energy in) in agriculture has decreased from being close to 100 for traditional pre-industrial societies to less than 1 in most cases in the present food system, as energy inputs, mainly in the form of fossil fuels, have gradually increased.


However, transport energy consumption is also significant, and if included in these ratios would mean that the ratio would decrease further. For example, when iceberg lettuce is imported to the UK from the USA by plane, the energy ratio is only 0.00786.

That's ludicrous, wouldn't you agree?

It's all pie in the sky until we begin to factor in real costs.

This of course is just an example that highlights ALL of our dysfunctional energy policies that ultimately lead to gross overpopulation of the planet.

We need to start thinking sustainable (and that most certainly means a major reduction in energy use). There is NO other answer (other than self annihilation).

Want to learn more about this? Google "energy ratio" and you'll be out to a good start.


Flakmeister's picture

I can assure you that I am very familiar with EROEI... You might find the following to be of interest:

I am currently working on an article describing various ways to invest in securities backed by real energy, not paper..

Highrev's picture

That last paragraph wasn't meant to be a slight. It was meant for the vast majority who might not know much about the issue.

Sorry about that.

Flakmeister's picture

No slight taken...any comments on the link I provided?

Aquiloaster's picture

+1 Efficiency and sustainability are the names of the game. 

Dr. Acula's picture

No, it is the term EROEI that is ludicrous.

The crude contrivance EROEI cannot bridge the yawning chasm separating the sciences of physics and of human action - one causal, the other teleological.

The science of physics does not recognize the economic value of any quantity of energy; or where nuclear reactions or relativistic speeds are involved, mass-energy. In the realm of physics EROEI is identically unity.

And the science of economics does not ascribe any significance to the physical magnitude of energy. For economics, it is only people's subjective valuation of the energy and the objective exchange value of the energy that signify.

EROEI provides understanding of neither the physics nor economics of any situation. It is a phantom.


avonaltendorf's picture

Doc, you gotta get off the government teat. EROEI is ROI measured in calories/BTU/bbls. It takes about 1/5 bbl of oil to lift, refine, and distribute 1 bbl that can do useful work. Emphasis on the useful.

Dr. Acula's picture

>It takes about 1/5 bbl of oil to lift, refine, and distribute 1 bbl that can do useful work.

And yet this information is of absolutely no value in deciding whether it is worthwhile for me to consume, or to produce, a barrel of oil. Even if it requires consuming 10 bbl of oil to distribute 1 bbl of oil (EROEI 0.1), it may still be worthwhile if the oil is urgently needed by a buyer offering a high price. And a process with an EROEI of 10 is not superior if the capital expenditure required is too great.

Why do people deliver charitable goods to assist Japan? After all, it consumes energy to deliver the goods and it yields no energy. The process has zero EROEI. The reason people do this is that people seek psychic profits (the removal of felt uneasiness), which cannot be measured in bbl, ergs, joules or foot-pounds.

EROEI is a useless and absurd amalgamation of concepts from two very different sciences. Playing childish games with numbers is not a substitute for understanding.

Flakmeister's picture

You obviously don't get it, or are deliberately trying not to.

Here is a simple example...

Say you have a coal mine and you need to burn 80% of the coal to power the pumps. You may make some money, but you are going nowhere fast.

Carry it to the limit where where the amount of coal you burn  to power the pumps is such that the income from the net coal is incapable to support the infrastructure/labor etc... Clearly you are doomed.

That is what EROEI is...

Very simple eh?

Dr. Acula's picture

>Here is a simple example...

OK. Let's hear it.

>You may make some money, but you are going nowhere fast.

Wait, I thought we were talking about energy! Now you are saying that entrepeneurs are actually interested in money, and not in joules? i.e. you are using financial ROI and not EROEI?

>the income from the net coal is incapable to support the infrastructure/labor etc... Clearly you are doomed.

"Income"? Again, you are assessing the situation from the point of view of financial ROI. You act as if it's the laborer's paychecks that matter, not their physical labor in joules!

>That is what EROEI is...

But you were talking of financial ROI. If you were using EROEI then you wouldn't have to factor in negligible things like, say, the paychecks for the labor, or the capital expenditures for the infrastructure.

Why do you pretend to defend to EROEI and then immediately switch to using financial ROI to assess an economic situation?

Clearly, you've used financial ROI to appraise the situation because EROEI is a pointless absurdity.

If EROEI was useful than the runoff from your operation that poisions and kills a bunch of children would be irrelevant, because physics doesn't ascribe to it a representation in joules.


Flakmeister's picture

So bloody predictable... You typed exactly what I expected.

You are correct, the economic activity stops before you hit the EROEI wall. Pretty obvious though, no points for that. 

So at what level of EROEI can human civilization function? It has been estimted for a non-technical agrarian society the value is 1.2. In this case, the E is food. We are currently around ~12, but falling fast. For example, the Athasbascan Tar Sands are currently around 3-5 depending on the details of the deposit being mined. What this implies is that of the 2 mmbpd, the real production is closer to ~1.5 mmbd (I have equated NG with oil for simplicity).

Corn to Ethanol is on the whole about 1. In otherwords you could not power a society on it.

There is another factor involved that you overlook. As EROEI goes down, an increasing fraction of activity is involved in the Energy business. There is less to spread around to support other activity.

The fact that you appear to understand ROI and not get EROEI is astounding.

Dr. Acula's picture

>You are correct, the economic activity stops before you hit the EROEI wall. Pretty obvious though, no points for that. 

Your statement is nonsense. There is no "EROEI wall". A firm that consumes petroleum to produce children's plastic toys has zero EROEI and it is quite economically feasible.


Flakmeister's picture

What the fuck does a toy maker have to do with anything? He is a consumer not a producer. He is living off the fat so to speak.

You don't understand the economic leverage and activity arises excess energy. Because we still have an EROEI of 12 or so means that some fuckwad can make toys out of plastic and still make money.

What happens when Exxon has to use 25% of its reserves to produce the rest?

Do you think that off-shore rigs are created out of nothing? That it does not cost energy to mine ores, make steel? Or to spin the drills?

A classic example somewhat related was the Herman Goering IronWorks proposed in 1934 or so. It was to be massive steel complex, it was shitcanned when someone figured that net steel production in Germany was not going to rise for 15 yrs or so.

So here we are with about 1.25 trillion barrels of goo or stuff that can be turned into goo, upon which essentially our entire transportation infrastructure relies. We had better come up a source of energy with adequate EROEI over the next 20 years .... 

You still have not addressed my point on Ethanol.  

Flakmeister's picture

  I'll lay a gedanken on you:

Imagine you are on some reasonably large island, you have all the technical manuals you need, a large enough workforce, ability to produce food at ~2 x subsistence levels and the a priori knowledge that resources exist in the ground but you dont know where. There are also a few common ores, Fe, Cu etc... that can be exploited by hand labor. You have some but limited wood; i.e. enough to provide implements, housing materials. The replenishment rate for the wood is such that you are in steady state at current consumption.

What do you do? You know how to drill for oil, mine for coal, build windmills, solar panels, whatever. But you must create the infrastructure with the available excess energy you have.

You could say, we burn all the wood to smelt metals and dig for coal or drill for oil. You had better find it before the wood runs out. Because when the wood is gone, you are fucked.

That my friend is the parable of EROEI. 

Edit: Actually, you are fucked before the wood is gone. You are fucked earlier than that. Just like Easter Island

Dr. Acula's picture

>It's all pie in the sky until we begin to factor in real costs.

Highrev, which position are you in that enables you to factor in other people's costs?

>that ultimately lead to gross overpopulation of the planet.

Please educate us on what the optimum population of the planet is, and on which group(s) should be liquidated.

>We need to

Are you a socialist?

>Google "energy ratio" and you'll be out to a good start.

If you are referring to EROEI, it is, as explained above, a flawed concept wholly devoid of meaning.


mkkby's picture

Conservation will only make a tiny difference.  What really needs to happen is world population needs to come in line with sustainable resources -- probably less than 20% of the current number.

Where do I come up with that number?  80% of the world population has an income of $10 a day or less.  That indicates that there aren't enough resources to go around for at least that many.  A sad but true fact. 

jmc8888's picture

No, man must increase his energy flux density capability.

It's called fusion.  No, it's not pie in the sky, and anyone who thinks so is an idiot.

There isn't a thing called overpopulation in an infinite universe. 

But you see, as long as one runs a monetary system, there is no money for capital investments.  Especially in terms of a manhattan project for fusion.

All the overpopulation talk is fascist bullshit, by non-thinkers, who merely falsely believe they are 'thinking', when in reality they are doing the opposite and closing their minds off to any solution, by deeming the possible, impossible, based on sophistry. 

We've explored 0 percent of space.  Which means 99.99999999999999999999999, and then some, of the raw materials potentially available to us (that's why we use our heads), are yet to be procured for our needs.

There's also fusion arc, which when made, will provide us with ample supplies of elements 1-92. 

There's no lack of water, just a lack of desalination plants.

There's no lack of materials on the earth, just the energy to pull them from the crust.

All because we decided to shut down the progress of man in lieu of monetary games, and allowed the population of man, to soak up the gains we had made while on a different course.  (monetarism in this way was like a basketball team, putting in its subs, who then proceed to take a 30 point lead, and start chucking 100 foot shots on every possession, and then tried to say....see it's impossible to win)

All needless, all reversible, and no need for a bunch of bs to be spewed about how we need to kill ourselves off to be 'sustainable'.

That's all complete bullshit, by people who either have been taught to believe man can't do it, and/or never realized that man COULD do it.

Fire was a bigger leap to the 'caveman' than fusion would be to modern man.

We're SO close, yet many somehow believe, the answer lies backwards, instead of forwards.....after we've come this far?  People forget the history of humans, and how we always find a way, as long as we aren't self destructing ourselves.

Well, we're self destructing ourselves, and just because a bunch of idiots are doing so, doesn't mean that is inherently man's level of ability.

There is no overpopulation.  There is no dead end ahead that we must go down.  If we hit the ground, it's because the monetary idiots tied a rope to our ankles just before THEY jumped off a cliff.

The reason there is not enough resources to go around, is because of MONETARISM.  It's not a good allocation of resources, and does not strive to provide enough, because scarcity makes profits.  Scarcity keeps others down, so they won't be able to 'afford' resources.  People make 10 bucks a day, because the monetarism deems it so.  People live in squalor, because monetarism forces it.  Our technology is decades behind (just from the last 40 years of monetarism) because of monetarism. 

When gov't can utter credit, outside the realm of monetarism.  I.E. Hamiltonian Credit System, such projects can be undertaken EASILY, and continually, as the need is appropriate, and through that, the wealth of a nation drastically increases.  The sad fact is, because of monetarism, every person on this planet lives a poorer life because the diktats of monetarism will not allow nations to become self-sufficient through projects that would increase the wealth of each of a country/region/planet's citizens.

The reason why so many 'think' we are overpopulated, is because for decades, and in some countries centuries, 'the people' have been prevented from doing what's necessary to procure the resources they need and discovery the technology and practical applications of such technology, that they must have.

Instead we focus on the self-fulfilling prophecy of monetarist induced scarcity, and how we must bend over for it, instead of destroying it.

As an American, I KNOW we can destroy it, and once we do, there is absolutely nothing to stop resources to be in ample supply to every person on this planet (a much higher number than now) sometime between the middle to the end of this century.

Of course, if we believe the bullshit inherent in monetarism, we could rot in hell, needlessly, all the way to bankster profits.

I reject such a bullshit future, because it isn't real, it's manufactured, and it won't continue to fool the people for very long.

Glass-Steagall and shove monetarism up the monetarists asses.

Burn the bondholders instead of the people.  Burn the derivatives, the mbs/cmbs, the bailouts, the no nothing future of imperial monetarism.  What a bullshit way to live.

Quit believing the bullshit fascist imperial monetarist sophistry.  Instead, focus on true American ideals, which are a Credit Based system, achieved through a Glass-Steagall cleanse of the system and great capital investments which increase the productivity of the land per square kilometer.  Investments that last decades, or centuries, and increase supply....whether they be energy, water, space program science driver, transportation efficiency, etc.  

Or you could choose the fascist way, and die with the rest, needlessly.  Your choice. But it really is that clear and simple.  People that somehow beleive in the fascism, were flat out taught wrong, and truly aren't thinking.  That's the reptillian part of the brain, projecting fear into the real world and changing your direction until you are trapped into a corner, or into a pit of quicksand.  If we based our future plans on our genetic past, where does one believe we'll needlessly go?

There are enough resources in this universe, and man can figure out how to reach, create, or both --them.  But we'll never reach them if the idiots are in charge.  Good thing eventually humans realize their errors, kick out the idiots, and given all we as humans need is to reach back into our American Patriot bag to recreate the best laws we once had and enjoyed, including, but not limited to, Glass-Steagall (tried and true), and American (Hamiltonian) Credit System, doing so would both end the manufactured monetary crisis that currently plagues us and lend us the ability to engage in the real projects that will ensure mankind will never be 'overpopulated' in a universe teeming with supplies and space. Anyone arguing otherwise is a fool.

TruthInSunshine's picture

Arnie Gundersen, Nuclear Engineer with Fairewinds Associates, Inc, with an excellent video explaining the travesty that is now unfolding at Fukushima, where dispersion stacks are not working, where 70% of the fuel has failed, 6 to 8 cores in 3 Reactors have failed/melted, breach has taken place at Reactor 2, radioactive gases are experiencing 'ground level release' (much higher concentrations than what TEPCO or Japanese Government has reported), and where 'building wake effect' is taking place, significant contamination was taking place as far away as 40km as of yesterday (1,600x background radiation [noble gas clouds emitting gamma rays] - with more to come and further out, and 0.9 surface contamination as measured in MegaBequerels per square meter - HOTTER THAN HOT SPOTS AT CHERNOBYL.



At 40km from Fukushima Daiichi, already higher surface contamination than hot spots at Chernobyl, and radius growing

Element's picture

That's one disturbing video TiS, what bothers me is the effects on the rural food-bowl, already seawater damaged, covered in debris, soil profiles disrupted by water erosion, now radioactive.

Can't go in there to farm, and probably couldn't eat it, even if you could grow there one day soon.

And wind patterns seem to be less than ideal today and tomorrow as well.

oh_bama's picture

Once there is a 1 quadrillion yet QE you would like Japan again.


zice's picture

When dissembling is over , head to ground.

hedgeless_horseman's picture

Japan's order to stay indoors for those close to the reactors, rather than evacuation, will leave a stain on many a soul.

A Zytron suit, Scott ProMask w/ CBRN filter, Iodine Tablets, and a kick-start 4-stroke parked on an upper level of the parking garage with Sta-Bil in the tank goes a long way to mental peace for the urban worker on the new frontier.

fuu's picture

They were told to stay inside so that when they die no one will see them for a while. Out of sight out of mind. Later the bodies can be cleaned up and lumped into the tsunami deaths.

Kobe Beef's picture

fuu shows an extraordinary understanding of Japanese psychology here. And no, I'm not being sarcastic.

Golden monkey's picture

That's all?

I understand better why they will let those smoking plants uncovered for months...

Caviar Emptor's picture

My sinuses have been way more clear since the radioactive cloud hit the US. So there is an upside. 

Golden monkey's picture

Don't worry, the smoke is moving up.

- Ben Bernanke

Ahmeexnal's picture

Sergei, do you know if the BioRobots have volunteered to help TEPCO?

Golden monkey's picture

iRobots on premise, but not allowed to operate.

Don't forget : we are looking at "valuable power assets". Think twice, money first, nevermind smoked sheeple.

For the bio thing, well, the US have war(s) prisonners. Did you know all the one Canada got in Afghanistan escaped in one single shot? (no kidding).

Ship them all to Japan, that's the key.

They were hoping for a meeting with Allah anyway...


Careless Whisper's picture

as long as everyone avoids those contaminated veggies, everything will be a-okay.

TomJoad's picture

That's a FauxNews Op-Ed that reads just like an advertising supplement. Just sayin'.

redpill's picture

Maybe it would be better if they called it a "sponsored post" ?


Double.Eagle.Gold's picture

Article written by a major military lobbyist, the kind of thing you can bet your grandchildren's lives on...

umop episdn's picture

Reuters has a few things wrong...of course. For example:

Eating a kilogram of such tainted vegetables every day for a month would accumulate radiation equivalent to a full body CT scan - or 20 millisieverts.

Eating Caesium-134 and Caesium-137 'hot' nucleotides is much worse than getting blasted from an external source. You don't have to eat green-sharts-producing amounts of veggies to get ill. I hate the MSM with a passion.

flattrader's picture

There's no mention of the Strontium 90.

Do you have a handle on what an "acceptable" level might be?


Oh damn...I guess no amount is good.

The results of a study of hundreds of thousands of teeth collected by Dr. Louise Reiss and her colleagues as part of the Baby Tooth Survey showed that children born after 1963 had levels of 90Sr in their deciduous teeth that was 50 times higher than that found in children born before the advent of large-scale atomic testing. The findings helped convince U.S. President John F. Kennedy to sign the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the United Kingdom and Soviet Union, which ended the above-ground nuclear weapons testing that placed the greatest amounts of nuclear fallout into the atmosphere. A set of 85,000 teeth that had been uncovered in storage in 2001 were given to the Radiation and Public Health Project. By tracking the individuals who had participated in the tooth-collection project, the RHPR published results in a 2010 issue of the International Journal of Health Service that showed that those children who later died of cancer before the age of 50 had levels of strontium 90 in their stored baby teeth that was twice the level of those who were still alive at 50

hardcleareye's picture

Good post, thanks for the info.


flattrader's picture

You're welcome.

I have a vague recollection of my mother putting my baby teeth in an envelope (post tooth fairy believing days) for the dentists to study. It was post JFK, so studies of some kind continued.

Upon further reading I discovered that during the early 1960s Japan was the recipient of drifting Cesium and Strontium from Russian testing.

So if they did any studies based on baby teeth like apparently the US did, they will have some baseline info going forward in what is likely a very sad future.

Byte Me's picture

Don't worry about the 90Sr -- you can always get a nitric acid lungbath to get it out.

Rula Lenska's picture

Thanks, umop.  Once again, msm is confusing/flating exposure and contamination.  Not the same at all.

Flattrader, you gotta link to that source you care to share?  Summaries are always appreciated, but I like to check out the source.  thx.

Jason T's picture

This is like 1348 .. global bank collapse coupled with a mass depopulation.  (back then it was Venice and Black Death.) .

mick_richfield's picture

This is why I love ZH -- there are some extremely experienced people here!


Fed delenda est.

davepowers's picture

there was a helluva party time in England then, after pillaging much of France and borrowing zillions from the Italian and Venetian banks. Other places not so much.

Spring Time for the Plantagenets