"We believe that radiation levels are extremely high"


Many of us could cope if you round to 1 significant figure.
Not necessarily a "deadly mission." Speak with Scott Davis at UW who conducted research on responders at Chernobyl for better analysis: http://depts.washington.edu/epidem/fac/f…
Empire Builder leaves for Spokane every day at 4:40 pm.

That should give you enough distance from the F.U.B.A.R. Shima rain.
Baffling. How long does a helicopter have to hover at 300 feet to deliver its payload of water? Surely not 3.3 days. But that's the figure for a lethal dose. Assuming Japan has multiple qualified pilots, can't they rotate them out? How do your numbers make this a deadly mission?

The thing that worries me is the water that they drop seems to vaporize instantly...making the situation much worse by carrying away radioactive dust particles hither and yon.
@2,4: I've modified the post, removing the word 'deadly'.
Thanks, Dr. Golob. You're giving more information than the NYT, which is frightening in itself.
This is a very useful way of presenting the information and helps illustrate the great reduction even a relatively small distance provides. I'm really surprised that the Japanese government isn't making more of an effort to educate their citizens about this (or maybe they are and it's just not making the headlines in our media).

Not important to the point you're making, but at the lower exposure rates/greater distances the human body's ability to repair a lot of the DNA damage effectively extends the very long times before the specific listed acute effects would be seen. With every repair attempt, though, comes the possibility of a mistake (mutation) and hence the slow cumulative increase in cancer risk.
Can we get all of that in banana equivalent doses?

@9: being in the helicopter 300 ft above the reactor is like eating 877 bananas per hour.
Question for the good Dr. G: I'm guessing that "sterilization (male)" at pretty low exposures means that it's mainly sperm motility that is knocked out, and this would be pretty quickly fixed by the high daily rate of sperm maturation?
[Low compared to the other listed acute effects. 300 mSv is a lot.]
Everything's fine now. Did you hear?
Science has accomplished the impossible.
They've invented a pill that will protect you from radiation.
Previously it was called Rad-X and it was fictional.
Now... It's Ex-Rad.


I'm not talking iodine, here. This is the genuine article.
Front page link on Fox News.
I call shenanigans.
Nothing to see here...go back to sleep...no need for alarm...professionals will handle everything....all's well....the air at ground zero after 9/11 was safe to breath...there's no toxic health effects to Corexit....the naked body scanners don't emit 10 times the safe dosage of radiation...go back to sleeeep...
Dr. Golob @6: Thanks for the correction. I was genuinely confused.
@14 Did you read the post? Nobody's claiming it's entirely safe, nothing to see here. Factual information was presented in an unbiased way.
Why waste all this medical aid on Japan for? America should really spend it's money,which we really DON'T have to help our own! Maybe it,s the Hand Of GoD that struck Japan down!Remember what they dud to us at Pearl Harbor, Bataan Death March,and to the Chinese (Rape Of Nanking, anyone?)
I'm waiting for the nuclear reactors to go critical and blow up! AND then, perhaps a METEOR will smash into Japan and totally obliterate it!! Wouldn't that be cool? A real life disaster movie! Maybe some famous movie director will make a movie..... just thinking....
@13 reading that artical was like watching an infomercial selling republican by a half ape, half n. Korean citizen. Lol.. Pity the poor suckers who "act now!" every day.. Palin 2012!
@17 Obvious troll is obvious.
er, radition levels decrease geometricly. Radactive decay prceeds logrithicly (natural log that is). The good news is geometricly is better :)
Were these the highest numbers for each area? I would think the danger is they can spike quite a bit higher at any second, and not all of the spikes have been understood.
I wonder if it's feasible to put a pump a ways off on the shore and have a helicopter drag a hose over to No.4 and hook the thing over the top. Some engineering problems involved, for sure, but it would be a semipermanent solution, none of this feet-on-the-ground 50 yards from the reactor building, and there are plenty of well pumps that could handle the ~100ft head...
@23: I've been wondering why they haven't done this for a couple days now. Dr Golob? Why no hose/pump apparatus?
Thank you Golob.
@21: Thank you. I'm writing these after work, tired, and without the help of a copyeditor. I've corrected the post, and updated it with some additional information about the doses of radiation being received by the pilots.

@23, 24: I suspect they're waiting for some more information on where to put the other end of the hose; one wants to only do something like this once. There are reports than unmanned US drones will be flying over the site, with IR cameras, looking for where water is needed the most.

Second, the pumps will need to be powered. Only now, electrical power lines are being brought into the region.
Those are serious levels. I can't believe this much damage has occurred.
The LD50 for radiation exposure is probably between 2 and 5 Sv., depending on age, condition, other environmental stressors, and the amount of medical and nursing care available. High dosages are cumulative over the course of weeks or months. The body has some recovery/healing capability over time, which is more significant with lower dosages than higher ones. Cancer/mutation risks are also cumulative to a large extent, being determined by how many cells survive getting their DNA zapped without up and dying outright to get replaced by healthy cells.
@26, thank you for making the effort to write these posts, Dr. Golob. As much as I love Slog I wouldn't have expected it to be the best place to read about this particular issue, but you're doing a better job than anyone else I've seen at presenting this scary-sounding technical information in an unbiased, non-technical way.
Totally agree with #29 - this is the most understandable article I've seen yet, anywhere, on the risks. Dr. Golob, you rock.
@11 It's very likely to be permanent. The high rate of maturation is a lot of the problem. The high cell division rate of the stem cells making the sperm makes them (the stem cells) comparatively sensitive to radiation. Keep in mind that those numbers are mean or medians (though the range may be very small) and sort of imply (at least to me) that every single sperm making cell in your junk get's the 0.3 Si in a fairly short time.
@9 I had no idea different foods emitted different amounts of radiation. Now I still with I had my Victoreen geiger counter (get the kind with the wand). Actually, I sold mine years ago for $55 on eBay (made a $15 profit). Now they're selling in the hundreds and beyond.
I too wondered about pumps, hoses and the like. I don't understand why the power couldn't come from generators - surely between the Japanese and US military they must have some really big portable generators? How else do armies get their power on a remote battlefield?
@31, thanks. That squares with high-dose effects on other rapidly dividing cells like bone-marrow blood-cell precursors and intestinal lining.
The radiation depends on the location.

Fallout happens in spots or clumps, not as a nice distribution, more of a mottled spread.

If you're really concerned, your major source is milk. Just drink water instead.
Thanks Golob for the hard numbers and reporting; and to echo others, thanks for the best reporting of the radiation risks I've read anywhere.
@28, I don't think LD-50 is that low (2-5 Sv). The typical course of radiation therapy for cancer is 50-75 Sv over several weeks (yes, this is one thousand times the US nuclear worker annual limits and 250 times the limits now in effect in Japan). 2 Sv/treatment is not atypical. Now, radiation therapy is targeted and not a full-body exposure, but I still find that number hard to believe.
Looking it up, it looks like 4-5 Sv is LD-50 over 30 days, but that's from a flash exposure, and not cumulative exposure over time (whether several minutes, hours, days, or weeks.) That sounds like it can be consistent with therapeutic radiation treatments that are half as high and targeted.
GE built the reactors. GE Own a bunch of NBC. Hmmmmmmm.