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Radiation Protection

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Radiation Protection

Radiation protection is surprisingly easy. The primary concern for most people is not shielding from direct exposure as a nuclear power plant worker might experience. Instead, radiation protection from internal exposure is what matters to most people.

Simple Radiation Protection Steps:

Radiation Protection From Internal Exposure

Ever since the first atomic test, radionuclides have been accumulating in the environment but radiation protection has been only a passing concern.

Some radionuclides, such as Iodine-131 with a half life of 8 days, pose only a short-term threat. Although it is a good idea to keep one’s Iodine levels up as part of a healthy nutrition regimen, overdosing on Potassium Iodide in reaction to news reports is not recommended. The most vulnerable are infants and developing fetuses, since radioactive Iodine-131 bio-concentrates by a factor of 1,000 in their growing tissues. Three months later, the opportunity for radiation protection will have passed.

Most radionuclides have longer half-lives and constitute a greater threat over time. In particular as regards radiation protection:

  • Cesium-137 has a half-life of  about 30 years and chemically mimics Potassium in the body. This means that quantities as a result of atmospheric atomic testing are still present in the environment at somewhere between 10-25 percent of their original strength. Quantities created from the Chernobyl catastrophe are still present at about 50% of their original levels. This Cesium-137 can find its way into our bodies through consumption of fruits, vegetables and meats.
  • Strontium-90 has a half-life of about 28 years and chemically mimics Calcium in the body and thus shows up in the bones and teeth. This means that it is still present in the environment in quantities similar to Cesium-137.
  • Uranium-235 has a half-life of about 704 million years and chemically mimics Iron in the body. This means quantities released into the environment through atmospheric nuclear testing or nuclear accidents have not diminished substantially in their radioactivity over time.
  • Plutonium-239 has a half-life of about 24,000 years and chemically mimics Iron in the body. This means quantities released into the environment through atmospheric nuclear testing or nuclear accidents have not diminished substantially in their radioactivity over time.

Radiation protection for the above contaminants is accomplished through mineralization and chelation. Although these radionuclides have been accumulating in the environment since the first atomic test, it is difficult to establish direct cause-and-effect links between exposure and subsequent cancers for two reasons:

  1. There is a latency period of from 5 to 20 years between exposure and the appearance of associated cancers.
  2. Many consequences may be classified as “Stochastic Effects” meaning that chance plays a role. This means that statistically, cancers will show up as percentages within an exposed population, but it is difficult to predict individual outcomes.

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