Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Japan Radiation Exposure Limits Thyroid Cancer and Other Health Risks

Japan Radiation Exposure Limits Thyroid Cancer and Other Health Risks

There's growing alarm worldwide about radiation poisoning, with an explosion Monday morning at the No. 3 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex. A similar blast at the No. 1 reactor in the same complex released radiation into the environment on Saturday, and while officials in Japan and the World Health Organization have since described the public health risk as "quite low," concern about the potential of serious health problems abound.

Officials in the U.S. and U.K. have released statements assuring the public that there is no imminent radiation threat in these countries. Philippine authorities have had to quash a text hoax that caused some offices and classes to shut down after it warned of thyroid health issues and the dangers of stepping outdoors without a raincoat.

Following are quick facts on radiation exposure and its possible health consequences.

Who is at highest risk of radiation poisoning?

The nearly 200 Japanese people who have been taken to the hospital with suspected radiation exposure and those who were living within roughly 12 miles of the Fukushima nuclear power plant (and have been asked to evacuate) are presumably at higher risk than others. Other risk groups, according to CBS News, include the cleanup workers who have been exposed to the radiation in the nuclear facilities as well as children under 18 and fetuses in the womb — they have the most actively dividing cells in their bodies.

The New York Daily News also reports:

    Seventeen U.S. Navy crew members have been contaminated with low-levels of radiation during disaster relief missions in Japan, military officials said Monday.

    The radioactivity was detected when the service members returned to the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan aboard three helicopters. They were treated with soap and water and their clothes were discarded.

    "No further contamination was detected," the military said.

Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2011/03/14/radiation-exposure-fast-facts-about-thyroid-cancer-and-other-health-risks/#ixzz1Gef8DOmR

Radiation Exposure and Cancer
What is radiation?

Radiation is the emission (sending out) of energy from any source. X-rays are an example of radiation, but so is the light that comes from the sun and the heat that is constantly coming off our bodies.

When talking about radiation and cancer, many people think of specific kinds of radiation such as x-rays or the radiation made by nuclear reactors. But there are different types of radiation, and many of them are not linked to cancer.

Types of radiation

Radiation exists across a spectrum from very high-energy (high-frequency) radiation to very low-energy (low-frequency) radiation. This is sometimes referred to as the electromagnetic spectrum. From highest to lowest energy, the main forms of radiation are:

    * Gamma rays
    * X-rays
    * Ultraviolet (UV) rays
    * Visible light
    * Infrared rays
    * Microwaves
    * Radiofrequency (radio) waves
    * Extremely low-frequency (ELF) radiation

Radiation Exposure

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The term radiation exposure commonly has several uses:

    * Absorption of high-energy ionizing radiation by an object. In living beings it can lead to radiation poisoning.
    * Absorption by an object of non-ionizing radiation. The effects of non-ionizing radiation on humans and animals is discussed on the page electromagnetic radiation and health.
    * Radioactive contamination of an object by a substance containing unstable atomic nuclei, which by ongoing radioactive decay will gradually apply ionizing radiation to the object.

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