(This post is in the series of posts about Disaster Management. I wrote about preparedness for Earthquake earlier in another post. In this post, let's talk about nuclear radiation - what is it and how can we minimise its effect, in case we have the threat to get exposed to it.)
Who does not know about the Fukushima Nuclear Plant of Japan, and the hardships the people are facing there due to fear of radiation in food and water of their city?
It's time we know about Nuclear radiation and what can we do to minimise the effect and safeguard ourselves in case of a nuclear radiation.
|image from ibnlive.in.com|
What is radiation?
Radiation is any form of energy propagated as rays, waves or energetic particles that travel through the air or a material medium. Radioactive materials are composed of atoms that are unstable. An unstable atom gives off its excess energy until it becomes stable. The energy emitted is radiation. the process by which an atom changes from an unstable state to a more stable state by emitting radiation is called "radioactive decay" or "radioactivity".
Are we receiving some radiation naturally too?
Yes, we do get exposed to some natural or background radiation exposure each day from the sun, radioactive elements in the soil and rocks, household appliances (like TV sets and microwave ovens), and medical and dental x-rays. Even the human body itself emits radiation. These levels of natural radiation is normal. The average person receives 360 millirems of radiation each year, 300 from natural sources and 60 from man-made activities (A rem is a unit of radiation exposure)
What are the precautionary measures to safeguard from accidental nuclear radiation ?
If you are residing in an area close to a nuclear plant, then you should be regularly informed about the educational information on radiation and evacuation plan etc. (I could not search about the safe distance of residence from a nuclear plant, as prescribed by authorities. If you find it, pl add in the comment)
The three factors that minimise radiation exposure to your body are :
|A nuclear plant|
How can we protect ourselves from nuclear radiation and attacks?
- Common indicators of radioactivity are nausea, dizziness, vomiting and disorientation, with no odour but a wave of heat. A nuclear explosion is followed by a 'blast' like a mushroom cloud. Don't panic in the event of a nuclear attack or accident.
- Don't look at the fire blast as it can cause instant blindness.
- Close all doors and windows, and stay indoors till further communication from the Government. Radioactivity does not penetrate solid structures, though fire may cause damage to building. It's even better to basement or underground area.
- Cover all food and water. Don't consume water, milk, food obtained following a nuclear blast.
- If coming from outdoors - take shower and change clothing and shoes. Put worn items outdoors in a plastic bag and seal it.
Why does the thyroid gland need special protection after a release of radioactive material?
The thyroid gland located in the neck produces thyroid hormones which help the body use energy, stay warm and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working normally.
The thyroid gland is vulnerable to the uptake or radioactive iodine. The thyroid gland needs iodine to produce the hormones that regulate the body's energy and metabolism. The thyroid absorbs available iodine from the bloodstream. The thyroid gland cannot distinguish between stable (regular) iodine and radioactive iodine and will absorb whatever it can.
In babies and children, the thyroid gland is one of the most radiation- sensitive parts of the body. Most nuclear accidents release radioactive iodine into the atmosphere which then can be absorbed into the body. When thyroid cells absorb too much radioactive iodine, it can cause thyroid cancer to develop several years after the exposure. Babies and young children are at highest risk. The risk is much lower for people over age 40.
Stay Aware - Stay Safe