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View Diary: Would a little American nuclear emergency make you look up? We're having one (225 comments)

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  •  Actually, no (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vets74
    One speck of plutonium a few microns across finds its way into your lung tissue, and you will die.  No doubt about it.

    This is a lie that Nader made up at one point. While you certainly wouldn't want to around snorting the stuff, The idea that a single microscopic particle will kill you is given the lie by the fact that all of us, especially those in my generation, have measureable amounts of Plutonium in our bodies, thanks to open air nuclear testing.

    And quoting everyone's favorite source:

    The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the lifetime cancer risk from inhaling 5,000 plutonium particles, each about 3 microns wide, to be 1% over the background U.S. average

    The reality is that stuff like radio-strontium pose a much greater health risk that plutonium.

    •  3 microns? (0+ / 0-)

      How about 30 microns, still too small to see with the naked eye?

      And as you point out, Pu is just one of a whole smorgasbord of highly radioctive, million-year goodness we're dumping on future generations.

      When the power of love overcomes the love of power, there will be peace. - Jimi Hendrix

      by CharlieHipHop on Tue Jun 07, 2011 at 11:27:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Let me explain... (0+ / 0-)

        ... a particle 3 microns across would emit enough particles that the body could safely absorb them.

        ... a particle 30 microns across would emit roughly 4/3*Π(27*27*27) more radiation than a 3 micron particle -- a hell of a lot more.  Could the body safely absorb this in one shot?

        When the power of love overcomes the love of power, there will be peace. - Jimi Hendrix

        by CharlieHipHop on Tue Jun 07, 2011 at 11:38:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually, your math is off (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          vets74

          Scaling by a factor of 10 means that the volume goes up by a factor of 1000, and assuming that emissions are proportional to volume,  that would still be within the limit of my quote.

          I don't argue that there is no risk involved. The only point I was making is that hysterical (and easily disproved) lies such as:

          One speck of plutonium a few microns across finds its way into your lung tissue, and you will die.  No doubt about it.

          Do nothing to make your case.

          In terms of relative risk, plutonium is relatively low on the scale, especially since it is not absorbed through the digestive system, unlike iodine, cesium, strontium .....

          •  No, your math is off (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Flint

            Assuming the particle was a sphere, it would not be a simple matter of scaling by 10.  In fact, even if it were a perfectly flat square it would not be a matter of scaling by 10.

            a square of 2x2 is 4 sq ft.
            a square of 20x20 is 400 sq ft.

            See how that works?

            Using standard calculations for  a spherical particle 30 microns in diameter would have ~82,000 more volume than a spherical particle of 3 microns in diameter.

            Do the math.

            When the power of love overcomes the love of power, there will be peace. - Jimi Hendrix

            by CharlieHipHop on Tue Jun 07, 2011 at 01:03:57 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  OK, I will (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              vets74

              A spherical particle 3 microns in diameter has a volume of

              4/3*pi* (1.5)^3 = 14.137 cubic microns.

              A spherical particl 30 microns in diameter has a volume of

              4/3*pi* (15)^3 = 14137 cubic microns.

              looking at the ratio we have 14137/14.137 = 1000

              More generally, if you have a sphere or radius r, and you scale it up by a factor f so the new radius is f*r then the ratio of the volumes is (using ^ to indicate exponentiation)

              4/3*pi*(r*f)^3      4/3*pi*(r^3) * (f^3)
              -------------------- = -------------------------
              4/3*pi*r^3             4/3*pi*(r^3)

              The 4*3*pi*(r^3) terms cancel and you're left with the ratio being
                 f^3

              so the volume increases as the 3rd power of the scale factor.

              and what does this staement mean:

              a square of 2x2 is 4 sq ft.
              a square of 20x20 is 400 sq ft.

              See how that works?

              We we talking about volumes, and you have this strange example involving areas. And your example shows quite clearly that when you scale an object the area goes up as the 2nd power of the scale factor, and as I just showed, volume goes up by the 3rd power. This is high school geometry stuff.

              •  right (0+ / 0-)

                So a number to the 3rd power is a lot bigger than a number to the second power.

                ANyway, the point is that a particle of 30 microns in diameter has significantly more volume/radiation than one of 3 microns in diameter.  

                When the power of love overcomes the love of power, there will be peace. - Jimi Hendrix

                by CharlieHipHop on Tue Jun 07, 2011 at 01:34:39 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  but (0+ / 0-)
                  ANyway, the point is that a particle of 30 microns in diameter has significantly more volume/radiation than one of 3 microns in diameter.  

                  We never denied that. It's just that it's no where near as big as the numbers you keep making up. It is, in fact, 1000 times bigger.

              •  You knew he was kidding himself (0+ / 0-)

                when you saw the math error.

                These guys don't know jack. And they don't care.

                Ignorance and apathy... or just shills like the pack out of Leadership Institute.

                Angry White Males + Crooks + Personality Disorder psychos + KKKwannabes + "Unborn Child" church folk =EQ= The Republicans

                by vets74 on Tue Jun 07, 2011 at 05:53:01 PM PDT

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            •  Ooops! (0+ / 0-)

              My math was off a bit, it's actually "only" ~10,275 times the volume.  My bad, but still more radiation than you would want to absorb in one shot.

              When the power of love overcomes the love of power, there will be peace. - Jimi Hendrix

              by CharlieHipHop on Tue Jun 07, 2011 at 01:31:48 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Where the hell (0+ / 0-)

                did 10,275 come from. I've shown you my calcs, now show me yours.

                •  misplaced a decimal (0+ / 0-)

                  it's 1027 times the volume, close to your calculation.  I'm multiplying by 3.1459, not 3.14.

                  Even if my calculations were off, my point stands: there are plenty of 30 micron particles of plutonium out there, and you would not want to inhale one.  It's worse than disingenuous to say, "Well, you could inhale 5,000 3 micron particles..." in an effort to make Pu seem innocuous when it is, in fact, highly toxic.

                  When the power of love overcomes the love of power, there will be peace. - Jimi Hendrix

                  by CharlieHipHop on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 05:17:51 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Why do the math when you can just google it? (0+ / 0-)
              The large number of deaths and other health problems associated with particulate pollution was first demonstrated in the early 1970s [6] and has been reproduced many times since. PM pollution is estimated to cause 22,000-52,000 deaths per year in the United States (from 2000)[7] and 200,000 deaths per year in Europe.
              The effects of inhaling particulate matter that have been widely studied in humans and animals now include asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular issues, birth defects, and premature death. The size of the particle is a main determinant of where in the respiratory tract the particle will come to rest when inhaled. Because of their small size, particles on the order of ~10 micrometers or less (PM10) can penetrate the deepest part of the lungs such as the bronchioles or alveoli.[8] Larger particles are generally filtered in the nose and throat via cilia and mucus, but particulate matter smaller than about 10 micrometers, referred to as PM10, can settle in the bronchi and lungs and cause health problems. The 10 micrometer size does not represent a strict boundary between respirable and non-respirable particles, but has been agreed upon for monitoring of airborne particulate matter by most regulatory agencies. Similarly, particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers, PM2.5, tend to penetrate into the gas exchange regions of the lung, and very small particles (< 100 nanometers) may pass through the lungs to affect other organs. In particular, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that PM2.5 leads to high plaque deposits in arteries, causing vascular inflammation and atherosclerosis — a hardening of the arteries that reduces elasticity, which can lead to heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems.[9] Researchers suggest that even short-term exposure at elevated concentrations could significantly contribute to heart disease. A study in The Lancet concluded that traffic exhaust is the single most serious preventable cause of heart attack in the general public, the cause of 7.4% of all attacks.[10]

              link

              Your 30 micrometer particle of doom isn't going to hang around in your lungs very long.

    •  Always trust the DOE (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Adept2u, Flint

      They would never lie to us. And the thing about plutonium isn't just a Nader squawk. It's pretty clearly understood to be the deadliest substance on earth.  Strontium-90 in the milk in the 50s hasn't killed me yet but I'll take a pass on the plutonium--in any amount.

      "And that's the way it is." --Walter Cronkite

      by Barnaby Grudge on Tue Jun 07, 2011 at 07:56:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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