Continuing Effects of the Fukushima Disaster
While the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in Japan happened in 2011, it is still affecting the world years later. Similar to others like it, this disaster has affected the environment and the lives of people beyond the immediate area of the major accident. Let’s take a look at the continuing consequences and how to detect radiation yourself with radiation detection equipment.
The Aftermath of Fukushima
In the immediate time after the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster happened and in the years after that, radioactivity has been found in the ground, water, air and food sources due to this major accident. One of the most significant sources of contamination was the groundwater around the site. Also, this groundwater entered the Pacific Ocean, with contamination actually reaching the western coast of the United States. A National Geographic News article published in August 2013 said that contaminated water was still leaking into the ocean two years later.
Is the Radioactivity Dangerous?
While there are still levels of radioactivity in the environment due to Fukushima, radiation expert Andrew Karam wrote in Popular Mechanics that the more relevant factor is the levels of this radioactivity and whether those levels are unhealthy. After all, we’re always exposed to some radioactivity in the environment and our food, and low levels are not considered harmful to our health.
Karam said that the radioactivity concentrations in the seafloor near Fukushima are higher than they were because of the disaster but not at a dangerous level. He discussed experts who have shown that the news stories talking about the disastrous consequences of the Fukushima disaster, from distorted or dead sea creatures to tumors, were inaccurate. Overall, he noted that ongoing environmental and health consequences are low although it can also be difficult to determine how contamination could be affecting people – for instance, whether diseases were directly caused by the radiation or not.
Nonetheless, Karam noted that radioactivity in groundwater was contaminated beyond safe levels, with treatments happening to work on this problem. Also, the World Health Organization and the director at Kyoto University’s Radiation Biology Center estimated that the disaster would lead to somewhat higher levels of cancer around Fukushima. And currently, Japan Times reported on March 22, 2017 that water in a reactor containment vessel at Fukushima had 11 Sieverts per hour of radiation. The article noted that this level was high enough to kill someone in around 40 minutes.
How to Detect Radiation
If you’re curious or concerned about your possible exposure to radioactivity, you can get a clearer idea of the levels on your own. This is easy to do with radiation detection equipment such as Geiger counters to test the environment and specific food radiation detectors to test your food.