How to Protect Ourselves from Radiation

George Washington's picture

Now that much of Europe is being blanketed with radioactive iodine, high levels of radiation in Tokyo and other areas of Japan have been confirmed (and see this and this), and some areas of the United States and Canada - such as the Cascades - are getting hit with fairly significant amounts of radiation, it is time to revisit the question: how can we protect ourselves?

The initial answer is that we should reduce our exposure to radiation in the first place. For example, world renowned physicist Michio Kaku told his Japanese family and friends months ago that they should leave if they can.

If you live in an area receiving any radiation exposure, you should also take off your shoes and leave them by the door (Asian style) and use a Hepa vacuum to get rid of excess dust.

As nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen said in June:

[In a worst case scenario, for example, if the fuel pool at Fukushima reactor 4 were to topple over], I would close my windows, turn the air conditioner on, replace the filters frequently, damp mop, put a HEPA filter in the house and try to avoid as much of the hot particles as possible. You are not going to walk out with a Geiger counter and be in a plume that is going to tell you the meter. The issue will be on the West Coast, hot particles. And the solution there is HEPA filters and avoiding them.

Also, rain is the main way that radiation is spread outside of the vicinity of the nuclear accident. As a parent who doesn't want to tell my kids they can't play in the rain, none of this is fun to talk about ... but during periods of high radiation release, people might want to keep their kids out of heavy rain.

When a lot of radiation is being released, we might want to avoid milk for a couple of weeks or so.


Nuclear expert Chris Busby suggested last month that people exposed to high levels of radiation - for example, those unable to evacuate away from Fukushima - take high doses of calcium and magnesium to block plutonium, strontium and uranium poisoning.

Dr. Busby suggests that adults take 800 mg of calcium and 350 mg of magnesium per day, and that children take the appropriate fraction of that depending on their weight.


Potassium iodide does protect against damage from radioactive iodine, but should only be taken if one is directly exposed to high levels of iodine, and you should never exceed the recommended dosage.

As I noted in June, specific substances have been proven to protect against poisoning from exposure to specific types of radiation:

  • Prussian blue for cesium
  • DTPA for plutonium, americium and curium
  • Sodium bicarbonate (i.e. baking soda) for uranium

In addition, there is solid science proving that anti-oxidants help to protect us against low-level radiation. Specifically, low-level ionizing radiation causes our cells to produce free radicals, which produce much of the damage from the radiation. Taking anti-oxidants neutralizes the free radicals, helping to protect us against radiation damage:

Meditation has also been shown to reduce oxidative stress (i.e. to produce an anti-oxidant effect).

Note: We should demand that fish caught of the West coast of the U.S. and Canada is tested for radiation. See this and this. We should also demand regular testing of milk and water for radiation.

I am not a health care professional and this does not constitute medical advice. This information is general interest only. See your qualified health care provider to obtain specific medical advice.

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malek's picture

Regarding milk, it annoys me that in Germany you can regularly but UHT milk in Tetrapaks, which expires more than 3 months from buy date without refrigerating.

Why is that not the case in the US??
Because that way you could wait 2 months before drinking the milk, lowering your I-131 intake substantially, without any trade-off!

Bicycle Repairman's picture

BTW.  Fukushima is NOT over.

Kali's picture

Is any one monitoring the levels in the FUKU debris that's starting to wash up on the northwest coast?  Shit.  I have to go to work there for a couple days.  Actually, I am old enough to not have to really worry about it.  Poor kids. 

steveo77's picture

Not true, radiation does more than give you cancer 30 years down the line.

Decay is Constant's picture

Something new for radiation protection?  Maybe in a few years.

For any of you out there with ideas of getting prussian blue or DTPA.  Do not try this at home.  These are nonspecific chelators.  They will bind non-radioactive substances as well as radioactive ones.  They will not only bind cesium, americium and curium, but many of the other trace elements in your body that you need.  Expect electrolyte imbalance which in itself could be life threatening.

I haven't heard of baking soda, but I'd suspect that to get the needed amount of baking soda in you to get rid of the uranium, you'd probably create one heck of an acid base imbalance.

Finally...see your qualified health provider to obtain specific medical advice.

Oh sure...ask most doctors what they've learned in medical school about radiation.  You'll be surprised.

QEsucks's picture

Figure 1: Andrews Lymphocyte Nomogram 

Silly Rabbit.Technical assistance can be obtained from the Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site (REAC/TS) at (865) 576-3131 (M-F, 8 am to 4:30 pm EST) or (865) 576-1005 (after hours), or on their web site at, and the Medical Radiobiology Advisory Team (MRAT) at (301) 295-0316.

Decay is Constant's picture


Great team.  Spent a week there training.  Great folks, great course.

Whoa Dammit's picture

Melatonin bitchez.

Lymphocytes which were pre-treated with melatonin exhibited a significant and concentration-dependent decrease in the frequency of radiation-induced (Cesium 137)chromosome damage as compared with the irradiated cells which did not receive the pre-treatment.


Melatonin is shown to have radioprotective effect against gamma radiation by preventing oxidative stress.

PulauHantu29's picture

"It's just a tiny leak," the Japanese Gubberment annouced...what's going on?

The Alarmist's picture

Well, they still haven't found a cure for death, so let's party on like it's 1999. TPTB told us we should worry about dirty bombs, but didn't tell us that they would be the source.

Do you have your duct tape and plastic sheeting? Never mind, pass the wasabi for my sushi, please.

steveo's picture

Yeah right, like your madical advisor is going to know diddly about this.


But the heavy chelating drugs like DPTA REMOVE ALL the heavy metals in your body, many that you desperately need.   This is not an option for most people.  

This isnt protection, its mitigation, and worth while, but NO FALSE sense of security please.

HungrySeagull's picture

Fuck it I say, between Three Mile Island and assorted flying, mountain driving and god knows what all in the damn hospitals...


A little for you, a little for me and a little for all. The pain and nausea too shall pass.

LostWages's picture

Don't forget medical marijuana. Rick Simpson is advocating medical marijuana to offset the effects of radiation. Rick has been curing cancer for years by giving away his hemp seed oil to hundreds of people, many of whom have seen their bodies ravaged by chemo.

The Navigator's picture

Thanks George for this very valuable information and also keeping us abreast of the continuing (but not in the MSM) Fukushima story.

cynicalskeptic's picture

But how do you protect against Godzilla and Mothra?    'cause you just KNOW some bad ass things are mutating off the coast of Japan.......

ReeferMac's picture

Now how can you minus 1 from that? That's friggin hilarious.

Yen Cross's picture

 NUCLEAR MILK   some one trade mark that one! I can't stop laughing!

spanish inquisition's picture

Should go with your soon to be if not already Hot Tuna (maybe buffalo chicken of the sea)


Negro Primero's picture
"1.3 Sv/h at reactor 3"

At the press conference of Tepco, 11/16/2011, Tepco published the video when a robot cleaned a rail in reactor 3.

A helmet is in the sight sometimes. Tepco used a robot because the radiation level is too high in reactor 3, but the video was taken by a human worker.

At first, the radiation level is “only” 700 mSv/h, but it jumps up to 1,300 mSv/h.

Still, the video was being taken by a human worker.

The types of nuclides or any other details are still concealed.

The video was taken in 11/14/2011 (JST).

TEPCO was pretending to be modernized by using a robot to check dangerous areas, but this video shows it’s only a pose, they still use human workers even in the presence of 1.3 Sv/h.


knukles's picture

Wonder how take your kid to work day's gonna go for them.

Madcow's picture

This seems a bit alarmist.   Aside from the West Coast, things aren't going to get that bad in the US.

Matte_Black's picture

Aside from the West Coast...

Right. So aside from the 50 million people who live on the west coast of the U.S. no problem then?

Rhodin's picture

If you're not using some of the anti-radiation supplements suggested here,  it may  only take one ingested hot particle to screw up your life.

Also, USA nuclear plants are not safer than Japan's and several are located where they could be subjected to major earthquake and flooding.

CompassionateFascist's picture

So the Seattle cosmics won't need lightbulbs. Who cares.

cynicalskeptic's picture

You'll never know because they aren't going to report it.    We stopped some testing because the results were looking bad.

NotApplicable's picture

Thanks for reminding me to take my calcium/magnesium supplement, as I was sitting here eating my dark chocolate and drinking green tea without it.

Also, my Fukushima Dome (18'x30' hoop-house) is still producing tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, spinach and radishes.

El Viejo's picture

Speaking of Geiger counters I picked up three cheapo hobby counters from below in kit form for myself and relatives. Lots of fun too. Was walking around the house testing and found some antique glassware that made me nervous.

I reccomend the one that actually counts digitally. (Less than $150 minus case)

knukles's picture

I got a 95 year old mother that still makes me nervous.

Ratscam's picture
way to go!

Big Corked Boots's picture

Be nervous. A lot of "Depression Glass" from the 20's and 30's contained radium and some other nasty colorants. Fun to look at, but not to use.

Kali's picture

A lot of old watches too.  See West Chicago, IL, Kerr McGee.  (the Karen Silkwood company).  They left all the radium sitting there.

dtwn's picture

Fiestaware from the 40s is radioactive, they used uranium based pigments

I've seen this in a radiation safety class where a geiger counter went crazy when held near vintage fiestaware.

Matte_Black's picture

Interesting. Andy Warhol was huge collector of Fiestaware. He died of cancer. Interesting. That's all I'm saying. Interesting.

Yen Cross's picture

 I got all ya guys and gals BEAT!  Complements of ( SLEWIE ).   Arnie is da-man.

mayhem_korner's picture

If you live in an area receiving any radiation exposure,


I was thinking of summering in Chernobyl next year.

GW, why don't you have your statist friends issue everyone handheld gieger counters.

Bicycle Repairman's picture

"I was thinking of summering in Chernobyl next year."

Have fun and be sure to consume some of the local wildlife.

Melin's picture



  I thought I was the only one who understood GW to be a statist with an alarmist bent.

mayhem_korner's picture



I like to frequent GW's posts where I can be both right and in the minority at the same time (kinda like a free-market citizen).  Plus it gets me a recharge on my red down-arrows.  :D

dexter_morgan's picture

For full disclosure:

Perhaps not the most unbiased of 'experts', but one wonders what the long term effects of this incident will be.


jomama's picture

Don't forget BETONITE CLAY!!!

this stuff is magic, use distilled water to re-suspened for at least 10 hours before ingesting.  

it's an anionic paste that will bind hot particles, other forms of radiation, and other heavy metals in your body.

i swear by this stuff. 

earleflorida's picture

thankyou gw

advise well taken

Augustus's picture

What type of material is used to make that fellow's hat?