How bad is it?

How dangerous is the nuclear radiation level in Japan (and more specifically in Tokyo) at this time?


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The rise in radiation levels in Tokyo on Monday was 0.89 μSv = 0.089 mrem

How much is that? How dangerous is it?

Here are some other radiation doses you might quite happily get in your life:

  • Average dose of radiation from all sources: 360 mrem/year;
  • X-rays 1 inch from your TV: 0.5 mrem/hour;
  • Aeroplane ride: 0.5 mrem/hour;
  • Cosmic radiation: 26 mrem/year;
  • Glow-in-the-dark watch dial: 6 mrem/year;
  • Chest x-ray: 5-20 mrem;

Note: The onset of radiation sickness occurs at 75,000 mrem. (That's 842,696 x 0.089. You would have to stand around in Shinjuku for about 96 years to absorb a lethal dose).

And in case you aren't convinced that there is currently a very tiny storm brewing in a minute teacup, here is another way of looking at it.

You have a 1:1,000,000 chance of dying from cancer if you are exposed to 10 mrem (112 times the current rise in radiation levels in Tokyo).

Other activities that are fatal with the same probability (that's one in a million):

  • Smoking 1.4 cigarettes (lung cancer);
  • Eating 40 tablespoons of peanut butter;
  • Spending 2 days in New York City (air pollution);
  • Driving 40 miles in a car (accident);
  • Flying 2500 miles in a jet (accident);
  • Canoeing for 6 minutes.

The odds of dying from other causes (for your gratification and comparison):

  • In a game of football (in Germany): 1:103,187;
  • Being legally executed (in the US): 1:40,420;
  • Falling on stairs: 1:2,503;
  • In your car: 1:244;
  • Accident: 1:36.

Take that scaremongers!

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SOURCE: Idaho State University Department of Physics:http://www.physics.isu.edu/radinf/risk.htm

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