March 14, 12:02 AM GMT—Update and Health Advice
Since my last report, the situation at the two crippled reactors has worsened and cooling system problems are reported at two additional reactors at separate sites. Residents near the meltdown location are already being treated for radiation exposure at hospitals. The severity of the problem at the two new sites is unclear and may be limited to pipe ruptures that can be fixed by temporary shutdowns.
Since rumors and misinformation are being reported, creating a crisis of its own, I thought I should add some basic health protection advice.
FOR ALL CONCERNED IN EAST ASIA AND NORTH PACIFIC COASTAL AREAS:
DO: Take daily vitamin and mineral supplements, especially Vitamin C, Iodized salt, Calcium, Zinc, Potassium, Manganese and Iron. The best way to prevent uptake of radioactive elements is to increase uptake of stable isotope equivalents. Do not overdose, however.
Obtain potassium iodide tablets and keep them handy, but do not ingest them until advised to do so by local health authorities. Taking potassium iodide prematurely can negate any protective effect when needed. The tablets should not be taken on news of a fallout cloud but only in following days if local water and milk sources are reported as contaminated.
Iodized salt and potassium supplements or high-potassium foods like bananas can substitute if potassium iodide cannot be obtained.
DO NOT: Do not ingest any fresh milk or dairy products harvested from animals after Saturday. Do not breastfeed infants. Optimally rely on canned or evaporated milk until the crisis passes. Pasteurized dairy products are tremendously better than fresh.
Don’t panic, move your family, or worry over much about air exposure. By far the greatest pathway of exposure is ingested food and water over days following a fallout cloud. Fallout clouds are easy to track and news of any fallout will be available in time to take action, except in Japan itself.
Reduce or eliminate consumption of fresh produce from fallout areas and replace with canned or processed foods until the crisis passes.
Replace tap water with bottled water if in an area where fallout is reported.
Above all, do not listen to crackpot alarmist advice and that especially applies to anything on Pacifica Radio, where we can expect all kinds of bad advice and paranoia in coming days.
IF IN JAPAN OR NEARBY AREAS IN NORTHEAST ASIA:
Follow the above advice more strenuously, obtain supplies of canned foods, bottled water, and packaged iodized salt. Keep windows closed. Wash any eating utensils or plates exposed to open air. Vacuum floors daily ideally using a HEPA filter vacuum. Do not garden or work with exposed vegetation. Wear disposable gloves for any outdoor work. Wear a filter mask or use a tied handkerchief when working outdoors.
Geoffrey Sea holds a bachelor’s degree in History and Science from Harvard. He did graduate work in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT and in radiological health physics at San Jose State University. He is co-founder of Southern Ohio Neighbors Group, which successfully defeated plans for the centralized storage of spent nuclear fuel at Piketon, Ohio. He has published in the American Scholar, the Columbia Journalism Review, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and many newspapers. He can be contacted via email at SargentsPigeon@aol.com