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Old 03-23-2011, 10:54 AM
 
Location: Beautiful Niagara Falls ON.
10,024 posts, read 10,140,888 times
Reputation: 8868

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I'm totally frustrated that the media makes no attempt to either explain radiation and in fact reports misleading and false information on the subject. Even experts in the field use terms that are guaranteed to confuse and mislead the people watching the news about the nuclear disaster in Japan.

Firstly, They do not seem to understand the importance between the terms,"Contamination" and "radiation". They use the term radiation all the time when they should actually be using the term contamination. There is a world of difference between these two vastly different things. A good analogy would be to confuse the term "light" with the term "Flashlight".
The way the media reports on things would lead people to believe that radiation actually sticks to what ever it has run into and can be measured after the fact. Statements like this, "They are checking to see how much radiation this person has been exposed to". That is like checking to see how much light has struck you. Not possible in any way unless you happen to be wearing radiation measuring and detecting personal saftey devices like we wear in a nuclear plant. What they are checking for is contamination. Substances that are emitting radiation Statments like this, "Radiation found in the food". This is wrong, there is radiation emitting contamination ON the food. These are very different things and contam can be washed off food but if the food is actually radioactive it's self due to picking up radioactive elements while growing then the food is radioactive contam it's self and is emitting radiation and can not be eaten.

Another huge failure on the part of the media whose job it should be to educate people is the complete absence of info on the different types of radiation, the actual strength of it and any kind of info on actual exposure numbers for workers and the general public. I'll bet that most people watching the news think that radiation is just radiation, it's all the same. That is about as accurate as thinking that a bow and arrow is the same as an atomic bomb, they are both weapons but they sure are different from each other. The hazardous radiation emitting contamination coming from a nuclear plant is of three types. Alpha, beta and gamma radiation. These threee types are completely different from each other and each has it's own particular dangers. Gamma is like an xray. A strong gamma emitter can irradiate you from a distance and is a threat just to be near. Beta radiation does not travel well through air and so even a strong beta emitter pretty well has to be touching you in order for you to recieve radiation and it won't travel through your body to any sig degree. Alpha is a very weak type and even a strong emitter is hard to detect. You have to take a sample of it and put it into a special shielded detector even to detect it at all. Now I don't want to mislead anyone so I'll say now that regardless of the type of radiation, alpha, beta or gamma, they can all be deadly and kill you. What determines the relative danger of the different types of radiation is the manner of uptake of the contamination, and now another factor is the specific isotope involved.

All the different radioactive isotopes have different half lives. This is the amount of time it takes for the radioactivity to decay by half it's strength. In the case of biological effects the shorter the half life the less the biological effects.
There is a different kind of half life that is also critical in understanding biological effects of radiation exposure. The biological half life of an isotope that has been ingested into the body. For example, reactors produce a lot of tritium. That is the radioactive isotope of Hydrogen. It exists in nature as radioactive water. It's a beta emitter and so therefore is not much of an external hazard at all. However if it's ingested it becomes a whole body irradiator as it will spread throughout every single cell in your body because it's water. The good news is that it has a biological half life of only 12 days as the body is always transferring water. Take radioactive cesium for a different type of example. It acts like calcium in the body and attaches it's self to all your bones. It's still going to be in your bones when you have been dead for 5000 years. You see the difference? Just about every different radioactive isotope known is produced inside a reactor. On the news I saw the Japanese officials handing out iodine pills and the news man explaned that he was handing out pills to protect the people from radiation.LOL What the purpose of that is, to flood peoples thyroid gland with iodine so the thyroid will not pick up any radioactive iodine if the person is exposed to it. It's a great idea to protect the tryroid but that is all it does. Now, I could continue along in this vein for pages and pages but I think I have begun to show just how uninformed the average news man is about the subject they are reporting on.

One last subtopic is exposure rates and doses. There are different ways to express the amount of radiation that a person is exposed to. The easiest to understand is the REM. When I worked in a nuclear station we were allowed 5 REM exposure per year maximum or 5000 millirem. To put that into some kind of understandable form we were told that an acute exposure of 500 REM would kill 50% of the people exposed to it in short order from radiation sickness. Many of the poor folks cleaning up Chernoble recieved hundreds of REM and there are very few left alive today. Spent fuel is so incredibly radioactive that we were told that the radiation fields coming off the spent fuel were in the order of one million REM per hour. If a person was to approach a bundle of spent fuel they would recieve a fatil dose of radiation before they reached the bundle. It's hot, hot stuff. It's not something we want floating around in the environment in any way, shape or form. What we need to know is facts like. In Tokyo the radiation fields have increased by x millirem per hour. If it was .0001 then it would not be too serious but if it was 1 then it would be. If it was 10 per hour it would be really bad thats 240 per day. There would be a number at which point the people would have to be evactuated. Wouldn't it be nice to know what that number is.
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Old 03-24-2011, 08:07 AM
 
13,140 posts, read 35,983,245 times
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Sorry a bit off subject however ...... i realise that high radiation will kill any human however i'm pondering about if there is any type of antioxidant(s) that can protect our DNA from the low level fallout. We know that high levels of Resveratrol (purple pigment), Carotenoids (orange pigment), Ascorbic Acid, Mixed Tocopherols, Lipoic Acid, Green Tea etc. can protect the skin's DNA from UVA/UVB radiation from the sun's exposure and so i'm just wondering ......
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Old 03-24-2011, 08:15 AM
 
1,403 posts, read 3,052,836 times
Reputation: 1308
Quote:
Originally Posted by 6 Foot 3 View Post
Sorry a bit off subject however ...... i realise that high radiation will kill any human however i'm pondering about if there is any type of antioxidant(s) that can protect our DNA from the low level fallout. We know that high levels of Resveratrol (purple pigment), Carotenoids (orange pigment), Ascorbic Acid, Mixed Tocopherols, Lipoic Acid, Green Tea etc. can protect the skin's DNA from UVA/UVB radiation from the sun's exposure and so i'm just wondering ......
Antioxidants will not protect against radiation (or UVA/UVB or that matter, since you have it in your list).

Antioxidants function by neutralizing free radicals. In not neutralized, free radicals will go on and damage DNA, cellular proteins.

In contrast, radiation and UVA/UVB directly damage DNA, cellular proteins, without producing free radicals so its unlikely that antioxidants would be that effective in mitigating damage by radiation.

There are secondary reactions with radiation exposure that might cause oxidative damage that antioxidants may alleviate, however. More of a "secondary pathway" though.

Hope this helps.
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Old 03-24-2011, 09:10 AM
 
13,140 posts, read 35,983,245 times
Reputation: 12074
Quote:
Originally Posted by broadbill View Post
Antioxidants will not protect against radiation (or UVA/UVB or that matter, since you have it in your list).

Antioxidants function by neutralizing free radicals. In not neutralized, free radicals will go on and damage DNA, cellular proteins.

In contrast, radiation and UVA/UVB directly damage DNA, cellular proteins, without producing free radicals so its unlikely that antioxidants would be that effective in mitigating damage by radiation.

There are secondary reactions with radiation exposure that might cause oxidative damage that antioxidants may alleviate, however. More of a "secondary pathway" though.

Hope this helps.
Thanks for posting broadbill .... and yeap i wasn't sure about ''low levels'' of radiation exposure over the years and oxidation/damage to our DNA and if anything on the planet could counteract it.

As for UVA radiation exposure and antioxidant(s) well there has been some scientific studies as John Hopkins reported in the ''Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences'' showing that giving a topical application of extract of broccoli that it's polyphenols protected the DNA when exposed to UVA radiation in their experiments. The researchers reported it works by not blocking UVA as does sunscreen however instead it activated the DNA repair enzymes to repair the damaged cell.

Broccoli Sprout-derived Extract Protects Against Ultraviolet Radiation - Science Daily

Anyway i'm not pushing antioxidants, supplements, special diet etc. as i know that this is the science and not health forums however im just pondering aloud here about radiation and oxidative damage to cellular mitochondria and nuclear DNA when exposed at xx amount of levels and wondering what others on here think.
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Old 03-24-2011, 08:52 PM
 
Location: Beaverland, OR
588 posts, read 2,493,585 times
Reputation: 457
Thanks for the informative post. I learned a few things.

The reason the media does not cover this stuff in depth is because most people are too stupid to understand it, including the members of the media who get the facts wrong when they report it. Mass media is aimed at about the 4th-5th grade level, sadly.
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