Due to devastation caused by the Tsunami that recently hit Japan, the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant is leaking radiation. It might not sound like a big deal to us, except for the fact that said radiation is traveling all the way to the Western Hemisphere -- yes, as in the United States. And yes, there are trace amounts already being detected in Florida.
The Crystal River Nuclear Plant in Florida is equipped with sensors that pick up radiation in the air in case of leaks. These sensors started picking up low levels last week and it is no surprise to the industry.
"It was anticipated by the industry and, in fact, nuclear plants across the country have has similar readings over the past week or so," Progress Energy spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs told FOX News in Tampa. "It started in the West Coast and now it's drifted over to the East Coast."
Radiation exposure means that our food and water are in danger. But, according to Jacobs there is no health risk. Ay, Dios mio.
Before we start envisioning '50s sci-fi flicks or the cycloptic fish splashing around in the opening sequence of The Simpsons, let's think for a minute.
We are amazingly resilient creatures. Most of us, at least on average, are made of pretty hearty stock. We actually eat and breathe chemicals on a daily basis. We expose ourselves, often willingly, to stuff that we know can kill us -- sometimes immediately (as in drugs), sometimes in the long run (as in trans fats).
Yet we continue to live. Sure, we live with diabetes, heart failure, emphysema, and so on, but the point is we live dammit. Am I saying that our exposure to harmful chemicals, fumes, and toxins has somehow made us immune to the effects of radiation? Hell, no.
What I am saying, is that the radiation will affect is just like everything else affects us -- insidiously. I don't believe the experts who say that there is no danger or risk to us from radiation in the air, water, and food. They are trained to say things like that so as not to create a panic. One of the things that made me laugh is a quote from one of the "experts" that the amount of radiation we are being exposed to is very low - similar to that of a chest x-ray. If such levels present no danger, then why is it that x-ray rooms are sealed up tighter than an Amish virgin on prom night and radiology technicians are tucked away in a sealed chamber like the Wizard of Oz?
Dr. Nils Diaz, former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and a professor of nuclear and radiological science and associate professor of medicine at the University of Florida says that we are exposed to radiation every day -- in our food, when we ride on airplanes, and even when we visit the beach. I guess the basic concept here is that a little more radiation can't hurt.
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And while we are being told that we have nothing to worry about, babies could be developing serious health risks due to the exposure. "If it's very little, it makes no impact on the human body," says Dr. Diaz. "But if it's babies, babies' cells are multiplying very rapidly and because they're multiplying very rapidly, they're radiosensitive." Damn those sensitive babies.
What has been detected are trace amounts of Iodine 131, a byproduct of the nuclear fission process. You might better remember it as the substance that caused decades of health problems after Chernobyl. But, don't worry -- we still have nothing to worry about.