Radiation is a form of energy that is present all around us. Some of the Earth’s background radiation comes from naturally occurring radioactive elements from space, the soil, and the sun, as well as from man-made sources, like x-ray machines. Different types of radiation exist, some of which have more energy than others, and some of which can be more harmful than others. The dose of radiation that a person receives is measured in a unit called a “rem.” A rem is a measure of radiation dose, based on the amount of energy absorbed in a mass of tissue. For example, an average person gets about 1/3 of a rem from exposure to natural sources of radiation in one year, and approximately 1/100th of a rem from one chest x-ray.
The effects of radiation exposure would be determined by:
- the amount of radiation absorbed by the body;
- the type of radiation (gamma, beta, or alpha);
- the distance from the radiation to an individual;
- the means of exposure-external or internal (absorbed by the skin, inhaled, or ingested); and the length of time exposed.
The health effects of radiation tend to be directly proportional to radiation dose. In other words, the higher the radiation dose, the higher the risk of injury. Normally after an incident as 2 weeks pass the radiation exposure decreases to the 1% level.
In general, protection from radiation is afforded by:
- minimizing the time exposed to radioactive materials;
- maximizing the distance from the source of radiation; and
- shielding from external exposure and inhaling radioactive material.
Risk of Cancer
Just because a person is near a radioactive source for a short time or gets a small amount of radioactive dust on himself or herself does not mean he or she will get cancer. Any additional risk will likely be extremely small. Doctors specializing in radiation health effects will be able to assess the risks and suggest what medical treatment, if any, is needed, once the radioactive source and exposure levels have been determined.
There are some medical treatments available that help cleanse the body of certain radioactive materials following a radiological accident. Prussian blue has been proven effective for ingestion of cesium-137 (a radioactive isotope). In addition, potassium iodide (KI) can be used to protect against thyroid cancer caused by iodine-131 (radioactive iodine). However, KI, which is available “over the counter” offers no protection to other parts of the body or against other radioactive isotopes. Medical professionals are best qualified to determine how to best treat symptoms.
Other Contact information
A number of federal agencies have responsibilities for dealing with radioactive exposure. Their public affairs offices can answer questions on the subject or provide access to experts in and out of government. Their web sites are:
Center for Disease Control and Prevention: www.bt.cdc.gov/radiation.
Department of Homeland Security: www.dhs.gov.
Department of Energy: www.energy.gov/.
Environmental Protection Agency: www.epa.gov.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission: www.nrc.gov.
Federal Emergency Management Agency: www.fema.gov.
Department of Justice: www.usdoj.gov.
Federal Bureau of Investigation: www.fbi.gov.
Department of Health and Human Services: www.hhs.gov.
Transportation Security Administration: www.tsa.gov/public/.
National Nuclear Security Administration: www.nnsa.doe.gov/.
How can I protect myself in a radiation emergency?
If an explosion occurs, it may not be known immediately that radioactive material is involved. If you are made aware that you are near the site of potential release of radioactive material, you should:
- Stay away from any obvious plume or dust cloud;
- Walk inside a building with closed doors and windows as quickly as possible and listen for information from emergency responders and authorities;
- If there is dust in the air, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, filter, clothing or damp cloth to avoid inhaling or ingesting radioactive material;
- Remove contaminated clothing as soon as possible and place them in a sealed plastic bag. The clothing could be used later to estimate a person’s exposure; and
- Gently wash skin to remove any possible contamination, making sure that no radioactive material enters the mouth or is transferred to areas of the face where it could be easily moved to the mouth and swallowed.
If you are advised to take shelter, whether it is at home or in an office, you should:
- Close all the doors and windows.
- Turn off ventilation, air conditioners, and forced air heating units that bring in fresh air from the outside. Only use units to re-circulate air that is already in the building.
- Close fireplace dampers.
- Move to an inner room.
- Keep your radio tuned to the emergency response network.
What about using my personal vehicle?
Depending on where you are with respect to the location of the explosion, if you drive a car or truck, some radioactive material may get inside your vehicle, and will have to be cleaned out. Listen to emergency broadcasts for instructions about cleaning your vehicle. If you drive a private vehicle, do not run the heater or air conditioner.
Should I buy a radiation detector?
No. Unless you have been trained, you won’t be able to interpret the readings. Many of the Geiger counters available commercially are uncalibrated and worthless.
Should I purchase potassium iodide tablets for protection against radiation?
Potassium iodide (KI), which is available over the counter, protects people from thyroid cancer caused by radioactive iodine, a type of radioactive material that can be released in nuclear explosions, and depending on the amount released, can later cause thyroid cancer. KI should only be taken in a radiation emergency that involves the release of radioactive iodine.
My book The End of Days also contains information on EMP disasters, the imminent arrival of Planet X, as well as protection from earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis. Emergency food and water survival measures are covered as well. The history of the New World Order and where it is leading us in 2018 is covered. It is available as an audio book or in Kindle format.
The views expressed in this article are entirely the writer's own.