Saturday, April 16, 2011

Unfounded Fears and the Triumph of Marketing: Rome More Radioactive than Tokyo

The problems with the Fukushima reactors continue. The fears about wide spread contamination from the Fukushima nuclear reactors continue in the west. This fear leads many people to have irrational and baseless, unfounded worries.
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Trust that, if you are living in Tokyo, 230 kilometers away (or farther), from the crippled reactors, in your daily lives, you are taking much higher risks in your lifestyle than the elevated background radiation risks posed by fallout from Fukushima. Especially if you drink excessively, smoke cigarettes, work or live near a busy street, eat too much processed foods, use too much salt in your food, don't exercise... Blah, blah, blah...

Of course, if you live near Fukushima, within 30 kilometers (18 miles) that is another story but, believe me, the vast majority of the world's population does not live within a 30 kilometer radius of the stricken nuclear power plants. The majority of the world's population find many ways to shorten their lives on a daily basis, thank you.

Yes, the problems at Fukushima are serious but, once again, we must stick to facts. The exclusion zone around Fukushima is 30 kilometers (18 miles) in accordance with IAEA rules. I feel sorry for those folks living near the plant.

Folks in Tokyo are 230 kilometers away. We are in no danger. The facts bear this out. Daily radiation readings in Tokyo show the levels to be within standard daily "background" radiation levels. The daily levels now in Tokyo are 1,000 times lower than the dose of radiation you'd get on a one-way airplane trip from Narita to New York. Yet some people still panic. To see those daily radiation readings, with information on how to make sense of them, go to here.

Here's another kicker for the panic crowd: Levels of background radiation in Tokyo are less than 1/2 and up to 1/6th the level they are in Rome, Italy on any given day! Don't believe me, the Italian press has reported this fact. 24 reports in Tokyo meno radioattiva di Roma:

Roma più radioattiva di Tokyo. E' la sorpresa delle analisi effettuate dalla squadra della Protezione civile italiana, composta da sei persone, giunta oggi nella capitale nipponica. 

I rilievi fatti dai tecnici - comunica l'ambasciata italiana - danno una radioattività di fondo misurata sul tetto dell'ambasciata di 0.04 microsievert/ora. Per riferimento, il valore di radioattività ambientale tipico della città di Roma è di 0.25 microsievert/ora.

Google Translation: 

Rome is more radioactive than Tokyo! That's the surprise announced by a team of analysts from Italian Civil Protection, consisting of six experts, who arrived today in the capital ofJapan.

The remarks made ​​by engineers - at the Italian Embassy - give a background radioactivity measurement on the roof of the embassy in Tokyo of 0.04 
microsievert per hour. For your reference, the value of radioactivity in the environment on a typical day in the city of Rome, Italy microsievert is 0.25 per hour.

Even though that was almost a month ago, the last radiation reading for Tsukuba (75 kilometers north of Tokyo towards Fukushima) on April 16th at 8:00 pm was 0.10 microsievert per hour. My God! That's twice it was a month ago! We'd better panic!

But still, that's less than half the rate on a typical day in Rome.

You can bet that when the facts do not bear out the fears you hold, that mass media marketing and massive promotional budgets were spent to create the things you believe in.

That is the way it is supposed to be in a consumer society. 

But some of us are not robots and can think for themselves and do some fact checking without believing mass media hysteria and nonsense. How about you?


Anonymous said...

It'd be interesting to hear about those Japanese who fled. Also, I wonder how many of those Japanese living in or near the Fukushima plant did their own fact checking? Is it facts that count most for Japanese? Or is it what other people are or are not doing?

Anonymous said...

I see others more knowledgeable than me have answered my questions on a later blog entry
here and here.

Anonymous said...

Data reported on this website do not match my findings and are not a reflection of the facts on the ground.

I am using my RadEye PRD (Personal Radiation Detector) from Thermo Scientific and on 17 Jan 2013 it clearly shows that

background radiation in Rome (Italy) ranges from 0.05 and 0.10 micro Sievert per hour (cps ranging from 30 to 70)

depending on the location i.e. being nearer the sources of radiation emitting devices such as hospitals and so forth, readings will be somewhat higher, given the high sensitivity of the devise used as indicated above!

Somehow claiming that it is 25 micro Sievert per hour in Rome (Italy) is a pure folly, to say the least.

Based on my research I would rather leave in Rome than in Tokyo right now!

Yours faithfully
Rome resident!

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