Skip to comments.Japan: Unknowns about radioactive materials warrant vigilance amid delayed gov't action
Posted on 10/31/2011 5:34:30 AM PDT by TigerLikesRooster
Unknowns about radioactive materials warrant vigilance amid delayed gov't action
What does it mean that, in addition to the radioactive iodine and cesium that the government has heretofore focused on, extremely dangerous plutonium has been found in soil over 40 kilometers away from the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, and the likewise toxic strontium has been found in Yokohama, some 250 kilometers from the power station?
Radiochemical expert Michiaki Furukawa, who is a professor emeritus at Nagoya University and serves on the board of the non-profit organization Citizens' Nuclear Information Center (CNIC), says that some reports about plutonium have been misleading.
"When the disaster first happened, there were media reports saying 'plutonium won't make it far because it's a large and heavy element,' but no one who's done serious research in environmental radioactivity would say such a thing," he said.
Many plutonium isotopes emit alpha rays, which cause massive genetic damage. Plutonium has little effect when it is outside the body, the element's radiation stopping 0.04 millimeters into the skin and exerting no internal effects. Once it is inside the body, however, it wreaks havoc on cells and the genes within far worse than that from radioactive cesium. Yet, it is unlikely to be absorbed when traversing the digestive system, which expels the element. It will stay inside the body for a long time if it enters through the lungs, however, damaging genes and eventually causing cancer.
The various plutonium isotopes are categorized by their life span, according to which plutonium-238 through plutonium-244 are considered the most problematic. The half-life -- or the time it takes for their radioactivity to decrease by half -- is long: 87.7 years for plutonium-238, 24,100 years for plutonium-239, and 6,570 years for plutonium-240.
(Excerpt) Read more at mdn.mainichi.jp ...
Just wonderful. I have famly in that area. Just peachy.