Mar 23, 2011

Japan's Radiation vs Food Irradiation

A run on Iodine Tablets has occurred since the earthquake and tsunami in Japan due to concern about radiation exposure from damaged nuclear power plants. Japan's coastline, and many other coastlines, including the California coastline, is situated in the "ring of fire" area of the Pacific Ocean, with greater potential for earthquakes than many other places due to tectonic plate movement under the ocean and faults on land.

The damage to the nuclear power plants and release of radiation that has resulted has lead to fear all the way to the coast of California. Sellers of Iodine Tablets have done well, no doubt, as a result, as many fear exposure to the negative affects of radiation. In some cases, especially in Japan, the concern is valid, here in the US in California where many have been buying the tablets, I'm not so sure.

Time will tell whether concern is valid...we are a media-driven society that tends to panic at the latest reports, sometimes the panic is justified, sometimes not.

For those living in Japan, which includes one of our nieces, there is valid concern about radiation appearing not only on and in individuals, but in the food they eat, and the milk and water they drink. What does one do in a situation like this? Will there be any foods safe to export from Japan? Debates abound on some news stations about what is considered to be a safe level of radiation. I must admit that I have more questions than answers myself. I'm from the generation that carried signs when nuclear power plants were being built shouting "no nukes, no nukes", though I can't say I ever fought the matter...more out of ignorance at that time in my life than anything.

Some confuse radiation such as the kind caused by nuclear power plant damage with that of irradiation of food. Irradiation does not increase levels of radiation in food, but it change the chemical structure of the food, breaking down chemical bonds, and in doing so, makes the food not what it was intended to be.

Updated 2/18/16

You will find many links to documents and information about safe radiation levels and the health affects of radiation at this Environmental Protection Agency link.