There is a very distinct difference between radiation and radioactivity, yet many media sources reporting on Japan's nuclear disaster are using the terms interchangeably. A better understanding of the terminology also allows us explore when and how to maximize protection through supplementation.
Radiation is a process in which energy particles or waves travel through a medium, space or object. It does not deposit itself in plants or the organs or tissues of animals or humans. It is typically measured in mrems, rads and sieverts.
Radioactivity is the release of energy by emitting ionizing particles (ionizing radiation). The emission is spontaneous, and it is released into the environment, biosphere, plants, animals and human beings.
There are more than 400 radioactive isotopes that are released in a nuclear accident such as those now admitted in Japan. Out of those isotopes, there are many that are too short lived to be dangerous to humans. However, approximately 50 of these isotopes are indeed very dangerous to humans including strontium-90, cesium, iodine, plutonium, and tranuranium elements, since they can be absorbed by the human body.
Of the radioactive elements released in a nuclear plant leak, radioactive iodine has a relatively short "half-life" of eight days, which means that it essentially disappears within about 80 days.
In comparison, cesium-137, has a half-life of about 30 years, meaning it poses a much greater risk because it gets into the food chain.
Excess cases of leukemia begin to show up within two years of exposure and peak within five to 10 years; other cancers do not start to appear in excess for at least a decade, and their risk can remain elevated for decades.
Studies have also found adverse psychological effects from nuclear accidents, such as the Chernobyl fire and the 1979 Three Mile Island meltdown in Pennsylvania. For example, there was an increase in suicides in Estonia and among cleanup workers after Chernobyl.
Radiation from nuclear power plants poses a host of health risks, ranging from severe toxic effects in workers exposed to high doses to long-term increased rates of many cancers.
Acute radiation syndrome is a serious illness that occurs when the entire body (or most of it) receives a high dose of radiation, usually over a short period of time and when the person’s entire body, or most of it, received the dose.
Chronic effects are caused by the radioactive isotopes which are far more debilitating to long-term health, including somatic and genetic effects which can permanently affect chromosomes and offspring.
What many people do not realize is that any release of radioactive isotopes could affect the entire planet's water supply which will inevitably affect all plants and subsequently animals and humans.
There has been some irresponsible treatment protocols in the alternative media promoting iodine as the all-cure element to combat
radiaiton poisoning. According to Naturopathic Doctor, Eldon Dahl, encouraging iodine supplementation for radiation poisoning can lead to devasting consequences.
"When I seen them handing out iodine for radiation poisoning it is like putting a Band-Aid onto a ruptured carotid artery...it is short term thinking with devastating consequences. Many factors come into play regarding treatment, the level of exposure and the accumulated levels from exposure over a long period of time..this nuclear meltdown will have disastrous results globally," stated Dr. Dahl.
Based on Dr. Dahl's own experience and practice at life-choice.net, he recommends ozone therapy, chelation therapy, P5P complex (containing vitamin B6, folic acid and B-12) and a thyroid support complex (containing ferrous iodide, calcium idodide, potassium iodide, burnt lime and sodium chloride). He encourages individuals to seek professional guidance before commiting to any supplement at a health food store.
There is a lot of conflicting information on the internet regarding the application of iodine. An overdose of iodine can cause the thyroid to shut down completely. However, a small amount of iodine does help conditions such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Problems occur in those who take potassium iodide supplements, and those who take internal iodine drops. However, there is little evidence of this in no evidence in those who apply iodine transdermally. Remember that the transdermal application allows the body to regulate the absorption at its own rate.
Following a radiological or nuclear event, radioactive iodine may be released into the air and then be breathed into the lungs.
"The average citizen can not order gas masks that filter out chemical warfare, or radiation," stated Dr. Dahl. "I would recommend that people stock up on bulk charcoal and keep enough that you could make your own masks using a cotton cloth filled with charcoal."
No amount of supplemetation or therapy will protect any population from high levels of radioactive isotopes. Depending on the nuclear meltdown status of each reactor, levels of radiation being released could fall in the range between 100,000mrem and 1,000,000mrem which would be disastrous to the long-term health of the planet.
To try to assess the extent of the exposures, workers at evacuation centers - wearing white masks and protective clothing - used handheld scanners to check everyone for radiation exposure as an estimated 170,000 people fled a evacuation zone that had been doubled to a 12-mile radius around the plant. The number of people possibly exposed to radiation could reach 160, the Japanese nuclear safety agency said.
"Anything having to do with health effects has to do with the amount of exposure the population receives, and that's just an unknown," said John Boice Jr., scientific director of the International Epidemiology Institute in Rockville. "That's determined by many factors, including which way the wind is blowing."
Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.