Radioactive Fallout From Japan | Natural Health Newsletter

Radioactive Fallout Update: Fear is the Mind Killer

Since I first wrote about the nuclear disaster in Japan, many things have changed — and yet little has changed. By that I mean there have been countless breaking news stories and changing events appearing hour by hour. Panic is spreading. But the bottom line is that little has changed since I first wrote about the situation. It is indeed a great tragedy for the Japanese people, but it is still primarily a local event for Japan, with only the smallest of chances that there will be any substantial health impact on the rest of the world. With that in mind let’s quickly look at some of the events and rumors that are circulating and what the truth is behind them.

Since I first wrote about the nuclear disaster in Japan, many things have changed — and yet little has changed. By that I mean there have been countless breaking news stories and changing events appearing hour by hour. Panic is spreading. There has been a worldwide rush on iodine supplies. Stories have broken that workers have fled the nuclear plants. Then stories appeared saying that was a mistranslation of Japanese press releases. Then we learned that workers have returned to the nuclear plants, fighting to regain control of the situation. Today we learned that alert levels have risen from Level 4 to Level 5. And television broadcast after television broadcast informs us that radioactive death clouds have rolled across the Pacific Ocean raining terror down on confused citizens in the US.

But the bottom line is that despite all these events, little has changed since I first wrote about the situation. It is indeed a great tragedy for the Japanese people, but it is still primarily a local event for Japan, with only the smallest of chances that there will be any substantial health impact on the rest of the world. With that in mind let’s quickly look at some of the events and rumors that are circulating and what the truth is behind them — and what steps you can take to prepare for whatever might happen.

Truth and rumors and what they mean

  • Alert level climbs from Level 4 to Level 5.
    • That’s absolutely true. Japan has raised the alert level at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant from Level 4 to Level 5, based on a seven-point international scale for atomic incidents. In truth, though, nothing has changed. Upping the status to Level 5 is merely an acknowledgment of the reality on the ground that has existed almost from day one.  Level 5 is used to describe an accident with “wider consequences.” For perspective, the Chernobyl disaster was Level 7. In fact, the current disaster is now ranked equivalent to the Three Mile Island incident in the US. Officially, there were no recorded deaths from Three Mile Island. Also “officially,” a 13-year comprehensive evaluation of 32,000 people living in the area found no adverse health effects or links to cancer as a result of the incident. Unofficially, there were reports of increased skin diseases and tumors and 2,400 families filed a class action lawsuit for “death and disease” claimed as a result of the incident. The bottom line is that the only previous Level 5 incident generated somewhere between zero and 2,400 deaths, all local to the event…at the outside.
  • Radioactivity escapes containment.
    • Yes, that is true, but that is not the same thing as a breach in the containment domes. The word “containment” actually has two different meanings in this situation. So far, most of the radioactivity released has come from deliberately vented steam resulting from water sprayed on the hot fuel rods to cool them down. As yet, there has been no breach of the actual containment domes, although there is the possibility that the concrete may be cracked in one of the domes. But even if true, there is no indication that the metal part of the dome has been damaged. In other words, the dome is still doing its job. In any case, although certainly not a good thing that any radioactivity is escaping, it means that the amounts of radioactivity escaping at the present time do not come close to the levels seen at Chernobyl. Just for some perspective, even in Tokyo, radiation levels are still reading at “background levels.” None of this is to say that things can’t get worse, but even then the odds are still overwhelming that “the worst” will still be a local issue, not a worldwide issue.
  • This is Chernobyl all over again.
    • Not even close. First, there were no containment domes at the Chernobyl reactor. Second, the amount of radioactivity released at Chernobyl was vastly higher than is likely to be released from the Japanese reactors, even if things get worse. But most important of all, Chernobyl was located in the heart of Europe. The significant range of contamination was 1,000 miles around the event. Yes, radioactivity from Chernobyl spread all over the world, but it was only notable for about 1,000 miles around Chernobyl. With the Japanese reactors, the prevailing winds mostly blow west to east, which will carry the radioactivity across the Pacific Ocean. 1,000 miles, the extent of Chernobyl’s significant consequences, only takes you a third of the way across the ocean. You still have 2,000 more miles for the radioactivity to travel in which time it will spread out, be increasingly diluted in concentration, drop out of the sky into the ocean, and fall in the rain. The net result will likely be very, very low levels of radiation reaching the US. And for those in California, don’t panic, all of the radiation reaching the US won’t suddenly drop out of the sky exclusively on the West Coast. Some will deposit on the West Coast, but the rest will spread out across the rest of the US, then across the Atlantic Ocean and reach Europe. The net result is likely to be barely noticeable in any one location.
  • Radioactive cloud reaches US.
    • Yes, Japan’s radioactive fallout has indeed already reached Southern California, but first readings are “about a billion times beneath levels that would be health threatening”. In fact, according to some physics professors, the readings are so low, they could actually be “coming from our own reactors in California” and not from Japan at all.

  • Airline passengers arriving from Japan are setting off radioactivity alarms at airports
    • Not quite. Some airports have begun specific testing of passengers arriving from Tokyo, along with their clothes and baggage upon arrival. And when specifically tested, they show radioactivity levels slightly above normal — very slightly above normal. But that actually contains three pieces of good news.
      • The radioactivity is only found in passengers from Japan, which means the consequences are still local to Japan.
      • It is not every passenger from Japan
      • And the levels detected on that handful of passengers are still extremely low.
  • This is the worst disaster in the history of mankind!
    • Please! Not even if you total up all the deaths from the earthquake, the tsunami, and from any radioactivity. At the moment, there are 7,000 confirmed deaths in Japan and some 11,000 people estimated to be missing. But what about deaths from the nuclear accident? Let’s take a look at Chernobyl for perspective. Didn’t several hundred thousand people die as a result of the Chernobyl accident as is frequently rumored? Not even close. A joint WHO-IAEA report, prepared by an international team of more than 100 scientists, stated that through mid-2005 less than 50 deaths could be directly attributed to radiation from the accident, and almost all of those were the highly exposed rescue workers who died within months of the accident. The report, estimated that a total of 4,000 people could eventually die of radiation exposure from the Chernobyl disaster. It should also be noted that there have been some 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer in children attributable to radioactivity from the disaster. But almost all of those were preventable. They resulted from the children drinking contaminated milk after the disaster.  Also, thyroid cancer is 97% curable in children.

      So let’s assume for a moment that governments lie. After all, many people assume that all governments lie all the time. Let’s assume that governments deliberately understated the number of deaths at Chernobyl by an astounding factor of ten. That would mean that Chernobyl might have produced as many as 40,000 deaths. That’s not even close to the quarter of a million people who died in the 2004 Asian tsunami or the quarter of a million people who died in the Tangshan earthquake in China in 1976. But the granddaddy of all disasters would probably be the Shaanxi earthquake of 1556 with an identified death toll of soldiers and civilians that totaled, according to official records of the time, a staggering 830,000. The unidentified death toll beyond that was assumed to be far higher, but was uncountable.

      The bottom line is that what we’re looking at in Japan today is indeed a great tragedy for those affected by it, and certainly the greatest disaster that Japan has faced since World War II, but it is not the greatest disaster in human history.  However, if worse comes to worst and the reactor actually blows, history may look at it differently, especially if large areas of Japan are rendered uninhabitable for many lifetimes.

  • Evacuate the West Coast
    • A number of people have advocated getting in your car and evacuating the west coast if the reactors blow. But where are you going to go? You can run but you can’t hide. It’s not like the radioactivity is going to stop in California. Heck, California is having a hard enough time keeping businesses in California. What makes you think that it’s going to be able to keep all the radioactivity for itself? Any radioactive “cloud” is going to pass through California and on to the rest of the country. And if we have a worst case scenario and the nuclear plant blows its containment dome and shoots massive amounts of radioactivity into the jet stream, getting in your car and fleeing may be the worst thing you can do. Once in the jet stream, the radioactivity would reach the US in a matter of hours — travelling at about the same speed as a slow jet plane. It’s highly likely that you would be caught in your car on the open road, tied up in a massive traffic jam when the radioactivity began to fall from the sky. In your car, you would be totally exposed and totally without supplies. Far better to hunker down in your house with an emergency supply of water and food for a few days until the levels of radioactivity begin to drop. Which brings us to the issue of half-life.
  • Half-life of radioactive isotopes
    • There’s another problem you have if you decide to evacuate your home and flee east. How long do you expect to stay away? The half-life for the radioactive isotopes that will be emitted in a nuclear disaster include: (Note: half-life means how long it takes for an isotope to lose half its radioactivity.)
      • Iodine-131 has a half-life of 8 days.
      • Cesium-137 attacks the muscles and produces cancer, and cesium contamination has already been detected outside the Fukushima power plant.  Cesium-137 has a half-life of 30 years. This means it would take about 200 years for something contaminated with cesium 137 to lose all signs of radioactivity. Ultimately, cesium may present the greatest danger if the plant blows.
      • Strontium-90 attacks the bones and causes leukemia. Its half life is 28 years. Again, you’re looking at close to 200 years to totally decay.
      • Plutonium-239 tends to settle in the lungs and can cause lung cancer. It takes very little plutonium to cause health problems. Its half-life is 24,000 years. The time to total decay is beyond what you need to think about unless you believe in reincarnation.

Recommendations

Once all of the rumors are set aside, there are only a handful of steps that make sense, and most of those are really of the “be prepared” sort of thing as opposed to the do it now or die sort of thing.

  • Be ready to use supplemental prophylactic iodine as described in the previous newsletter. That time is not now and is not likely to occur at all as a result of what’s happening in Japan. That said, there is a whole lot of panic and nonsense about iodine circulating about. I’ve heard from people who have been told by people working in health food stores that although they’re out of iodine tablets, seaweed will work just as well. All you have to do is eat 5-10 sheets of nori seaweed and it will protect you just as well as the tablets since nori is high in iodine. Utter piffle! There’s about 16 micrograms of iodine in a sheet of nori. That means you would have to eat approximately 8,000 sheets of seaweed in one sitting to get an effective prophylactic dose of iodine. Let’s get real here. Also, if you’re over 40, extra iodine probably isn’t going to do anything for you anyway. The younger you are, the more at risk you are. Also, taking a prophylactic dose too soon isn’t going to help since iodine clears the thyroid in about 24 hours. But most important of all, the odds are extremely low that radioactive iodine is going to be the biggest problem you face outside of Japan, even if the reactor’s containment dome does blow. Your biggest concern is probably cesium, which can hang around for a couple of hundred years and make its way into the food supply. It has a strong affinity for bones and will ultimately cause bone cancer. And iodine offers zero protection from radioactive cesium.
  • Use a good colon detox formula that contains substantial amounts of apple pectin and montmorillonite clay. As I’ve said for years, apple pectin actually draws radioactive waste from your body and passes it out through your colon. It’s one of the reasons I include it in my Colon Detox formula — to remove contamination from everyday exposure to radiation. This is not wishful alternative health thinking. Apple pectin was used in the aftermath of Chernobyl to reduce the load of radioactive cesium in children. Montmorillonite clay, another ingredient in a good detox formula, also has a strong affinity for radioactive matter. Regular use of a good detox formula will help remove any long term radioactive isotopes such as cesium and strontium that make their way into your food supply.
  • Use a supplement such as a good antioxidant formula or blood cleansing formula that contains chaparral extract. The primary biochemical in chaparral, NDGA (nordihydroguaiaretic acid), has been shown to protect the body against genetic damage caused by exposure to radioactivity. Don’t get hung up on iodine and the thyroid. The thyroid is only one organ that is affected by radioactivity (and by only one isotope at that). And remember, thyroid cancer has a 97% cure rate in children. Many other organs such as your lungs, skin, sexual organs, bones, and even your DNA are also at risk. And unlike with radioactive iodine, that risk can last for years.
  • Keep in mind that plutonium, cesium, and strontium are all heavy metals and so, to some degree, can be chelated from the body. Look for a heavy metal detox formula that contains both chlorella and cilantro. Chlorella breaks the electrical bond that ties radioactive material to your soft tissue. And cilantro then carries the radioactive material out of your body and into your urine, where it can pass from your body. Along with apple pectin, chlorella was used with notable success after the Chernobyl disaster. Keep a supply of a chlorella/cilantro metal detox formula on hand and use it regularly. If the unthinkable happens, you probably would want to use something like a bottle a week for the first four weeks after exposure, and then a bottle a month indefinitely for as long as any danger remained. But once again, let me emphasize, the odds of the unthinkable happening outside of Japan are currently very, very low.
  • Watch what you eat if the unthinkable happens. Radioactivity, like most toxins, concentrates up the food chain. That means levels tend to be highest in meat, fish, and dairy, and lowest in grains, fruits, and vegetables. In addition, the fiber in unrefined grains, fruits, and vegetables tends to carry out radioactivity, particularly fruit pectin (think apple pectin). Also, it’s vital to avoid sugar if exposed to any long term radioactivity since sugar, as we’ve discussed many times before in previous newsletters, robs calcium from your body. Strontium-90 in particular has a similar atomic structure to calcium, which means your body will pull it into your bones in place of calcium if there is any shortage of calcium — thus dramatically increasing your chances of developing bone cancer. In that regard, of course, cola drinks, which are both high in sugar and phosphoric acid, would be about the worst thing you could consume.
  • And finally, you should have a written disaster preparedness plan for you and your family. And I’m not talking about just plans for a nuclear disaster. I’m talking about plans for what happens during and after earthquakes, floods, tornados, monsoons, major flu epidemics, plague, or a terrorist event in your hometown — basically, whatever is possible in your neck of the woods. Where does everyone meet? How do they get there? Do you have emergency supplies of water, food, batteries, first aid, lanterns, AM/FM/shortwave radios, and emergency shelter and blankets to get you over the hump just in case? I’m not talking about survivalist multi-year supplies necessarily. But what about supplies to cover 3-7 days? Do you have an emergency kit in each car in case you or anyone in your family gets stranded on the road? Can you survive if your house is washed away? The bottom line is that you need a plan before something happens, and you have to already have everything you need in place just in case the 7-Eleven down the street isn’t open when you need it. If nothing else, the events in Japan offer a great chance to focus on getting your act together and preparing your own family to survive the unthinkable in case it ever happens to you.

And as before, please, please remember, that outside of Japan, we do not have an emergency situation yet — or anything close to it. There is no need to panic. Outside of Japan, nothing has happened yet, and the odds of it happening are very, very low. Chill out. And with that in mind, let’s finish this update with a quote from the Bene Gesserit’s litany against fear, taken from the Frank Herbert novel, Dune.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

Or to translate that into more mundane terms, “Chill out, dudes! Take time to look at the glowing of the roses.”

And finally, one last note. The fear outside of Japan is mostly imaginary at the moment, but inside Japan it is very real — and the nuclear issue may end up being the smallest part of the problem. Many thousands of people have already lost their homes, possessions, power supplies, and even family members as a result of the original earthquake and tsunami. And temperatures in northern Japan, the center of the damage, have already dropped into the low 30’s. This might be a good time to step back from your fear for a moment and send some prayers their way. And then contribute to the charity of your choice that can provide some help to those in Japan who are already suffering. Keep in mind there’s one great benefit to helping others: it takes your mind off your own fear, and that’s always a good thing.

Continue reading on about radiation and Japan’s nuclear disaster with Jon’s newsletter about “Preparing for Nuclear Fallout“.

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