Radiation

April 6, 2011 at 12:10 pm • Posted in ALL POSTS261 Comments

People everywhere are concerned with the threat of being exposed to radiation.  They needn’t be.  Americans survived years of atmospheric testing of both atom bombs and the infinitely more powerful hydrogen bombs by approximately a half dozen countries during the 50’s and 60’s.  The only place where there was a severe loss of life from radiation was in Japan after the two atomic bombs were dropped on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  One Japanese citizen had the misfortune of being in Hiroshima on August 6th and in Nagasaki August 9th 1945.   He survived to tell his story.  Remember, the FIRST atom bomb was detonated west of Alamogorda, New Mexico in the summer of 1945 as a test to see if it would even work.
I’m not trying to downplay the dangers of high doses of radiation, but I’m trying to point out that the current risk in the U. S. is negligible. Every form of life on this planet is exposed to radiation from a multitude of naturally occurring sources each day.  There are 14 naturally occurring radioactive isotopes of elements in the earth’s crust, which are normally not thought to be a radioactive element.  Potassium 40 is probably the one which is most talked about.
Then there are the big three, Uranium 235, Uranium 238, and Thorium 232.  All three of these naturally occurring isotopes and their radioactive byproducts are giving off radiation all around us.   There is more Uranium in the earth’s crust than there is gold, platinum, silver, mercury, iodine, and 21 other elements.  The earth’s crust contains three times more Thorium 232 than the two isotopes of Uranium.  As of 1960, uranium had been discovered at 84 locations in Washington State alone.  Thorium had been discovered at 5 locations in Washington State.  I have no data about what has been discovered in the last 5 decades.
Another source of radiation comes from cosmic rays from the sun and others sources in space.  Nitrogen 14 is continually converted into Carbon 14 by this radiation from space in earth’s upper atmosphere. It is eventually taken up by plants and ends up in our food chain.  Once formed, its half -life is about 5,720 years.
Other sources of radiation include Televisions, x-Ray devices, and a whole host of other electronic devices.  The universe is powered by nuclear fusion and like it or not, we will always be exposed to some form of radiation.  Fortunately America’s current exposure levels from Japan’s damaged nuclear plants are negligible.  There probably is no place on this earth that is truly radiation free.