Radiation Levels Far Exceed Those of Chernobyl According to IAEA

Radiation effects picture

The levels reported cause bodily damage higher than Chernobyl

The IAEA is reporting levels of radiation in the Korean pennensula and Japan are 100 – 200 times normal levels, amounts that can lead to a 35 percent death rate, yet no death tolls have been mentioned and officials are not overly concerned on effects on crops.

The IAEA spokesperson Melissa Fleming has said that the radioactive levels in Japan continue to be 100 – 150 times the normal background levels, and the precipitation has the potential to affect all areas exposed, including soil and vegetation.

Fleming said that South Korean levels are 200 times the normal level, or 480 mSv.  This is five times the amount at Chernobyl.

Graph of distribution of normal radiation levels

The distribution of sources of normal radiation absorbtion on humans

The average background radiation dose for a human is 2.4 millisievert (mSv) per year according to a report by a United Nations Scientific Committee.  These levels are from a combination of cosmic, terrestrial rays, as well as normal ingestion and inhalation.

At the incident in Chernobyl, 240,000 recovery operations workers were exposed to a dose of 100 mSv, according to the same UN report.  This would be the equivalent of less than 50 times the normal levels.

AtomicArcive.com, a National Science Digital Library, reports that levels of 100 – 200 mSv lead to mild radiation sickness within a few hours, with symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea and fatigue.  Levels between 200 – 300 mSv, can lead to the death of 10-35% of the population after 30 days.

The radiation is not worrying Japanese officials however.  According to officials in Japan, the extent of damage to crops has yet to be determined.  The statement said that they expect few crops in the fields in February will be affected because few crops are in the ground.  Long term effects will have to be assessed over time as doctors research and report their findings back.

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