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In the weeks and months after the Fukushima Disaster we were repeatedly told not to worry about possible radiation being carried over the Pacific and around the world. The first arguments were that containment was never breached. Next it was there wasn't enough leakage to worry about. Then it was the type of radiation that we could be exposed to would be long degraded by the time it reached us.

Radioactive isotopes I-131, Cs-134, or Cs-137, products of uranium fission, were measured at approximately 20 percent of 167 sampled National Atmospheric Deposition Program monitoring sites in North America (primarily in the contiguous United States and Alaska) after the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant incident on March 12, 2011. Samples from the National Atmospheric Deposition Program were analyzed for the period of March 8–April 5, 2011. Calculated 1- or 2-week radionuclide deposition fluxes at 35 sites from Alaska to Vermont ranged from 0.47 to 5,100 Becquerels per square meter during the sampling period of March 15–April 5, 2011. No fission-product isotopes were measured in National Atmospheric Deposition Program samples obtained during March 8–15, 2011, prior to the arrival of contaminated air in North America.
Read the full PDF here.

Looking at the maps starting on page 19 of the PDF shows Portland, Oregon received large quantities of radioactive pollution from the Fukushima Disaster.

Filtered particulate samples were analyzed prior to analysis of the water samples. No fission products were detected on individual filters or on composited filters. Therefore, the transported fission products were either on particles smaller than the 0.45-μm pore size of the filter, or they were associated with soluble aerosol salts present in the collected samples.
I-131 was quantified and adjusted for decay to the time of sample collection for five whole-water wet-deposition samples from California, Colorado, and Washington. The activities of the quantified I-131 ranged from 29.6 to 1,090 pCi/L, and calculated deposition values ranged from 211 to 5,100 Bq/m2. Several weeks transpired between sample collection and analysis of the I-131 in the water samples, which were prioritized for analysis from west (high priority) to east (low priority). Therefore, I-131 activities likely decayed in most of the samples before they could be measured.
Cs-134 activities were quantified for 23 samples from Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, and Wyoming. The Cs-134 ranged from 0.40 to 55 pCi/L, and deposition values ranged from 0.47 to 180 Bq/m2. Cs-134 values reported for all but one site (CO90 near Nederland, Colo.) have substantial error because they were manually estimated from the gamma-ray spectra. Cs-137 activities were quantified for 33 samples from Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnessota, Missouri, Montana, New York, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. These samples ranged from 0.70 pCi/L to 39 pCi/L, and calculated deposition values ranged from 0.78 to 240 Bq/m2. Cs-134 and Cs-137 activities were not adjusted for decay to date of sample collection because radioactive decay during the 2-month period between collection and analysis was negligible for these isotopes.
What could be the result of this pollution?

Originally posted to Horace Boothroyd III on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 08:01 PM PST.

Also republished by PDX Metro.

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Comment Preferences

  •  No, you shouldn't (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib, NYFM, Blubba, HeyMikey, erush1345, palantir

    Did you look at the units on those graphs?  They're in Becquerels/m^2, or in picoCuries/L.  Those are negligible burnden To give you a sense of scale, we don't have the technology to eliminate Radon below levels of bout 2pCi/L in air (USGS), and normal natural levels of tritium are about 20-30 pCi/L in drinking water (USEPA).

    •  Even though this is a cumulative (0+ / 0-)

      conaminant?

      Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

      by Horace Boothroyd III on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 08:20:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  And did you miss this? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Roger Fox
      No fission-product isotopes were measured in National Atmospheric Deposition Program samples obtained during March 8–15, 2011, prior to the arrival of contaminated air in North America.

      Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

      by Horace Boothroyd III on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 08:21:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I saw it. So what? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HeyMikey, erush1345, GreyHawk

        Here are a few simple facts:

        (1) Maximum total expected deaths due to the Chernobyl disaster (which dwarfed Fukushima): 4000.  Three quarters of those will be among the first responders who received massive direct exposure during the actual incident.  (Source: http://www.who.int/...)
        (2) Total number of non-emergency worker deaths associated with Chernobyl as of 2005: 9.  Yes, that's right, 9.  And those are children who received not picoCuries of exposure, but millCuries of exposure.  Total deaths among adults in the immediate vicinity of Chernobyl but not directly exposed during the crisis itself:  0.

        You're fear-mongering.  The evidence doesn't support you.

        •  That figure is widely contested (9+ / 0-)

          The WHO figures only factored, if I recall, something like a 30 mile range around Chernobyl. There was evidence of fallout as far off, however, as Germany and Scotland at very high rates. This has been widely criticized. Figures are variable for the Chernobyl accident. Some credible nuclear scientists have stated they believe it's far, far higher. Some other sources will put it as high as 200,000. I would guess it's somewhere between 4,000 and 200,000.

          But it's unknown. Particularly given that thyroid cancer often takes ten years to manifest AND is often not caught on autopsy if it was not the cause of death, due to its predominately slow-growing nature.

          You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

          by mahakali overdrive on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 09:51:27 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You're right about latency (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Blubba

            That's why WHO waited twenty years to compute the fatality rate.  Chernobyl was 27 years ago.  If thyroid cancer was going to manifest, it would have done so already.

            The problem here is that we can find contaminants in sub-microscopic quantities.  (One Curie is an amount of material sufficient to generate 3.7 x 10^10 decays/second.  One picoCurie is an amount of material sufficient to generate 37 decays/second.  For Ce107, 237 pCi/L corresponds to <3 picograms of material in a liter of liquid.  That's an amount measured in parts per trillion, and poses no realistic threat to anyone)  When we find such contaminants, we have a responsibility to report them, which will then be demagogued, as it is being done in this diary.

          •  The WHO figure... (0+ / 0-)

            That's actually a common misrepresentation of the WHO report.  What the study found was that outside the 30 km exclusion zone and a few lakes, radiation and contamination were no longer distinguishable from background.  That's not surprising -- iodine and cesium are washed away by the rain and carried to the ocean or into the contaminated lakes; non-soluble contaminants have short half-lives and have mostly decayed.

        •  Since I've seen some post-Chernobyl stuff (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          palantir, GreyHawk

          firsthand, this is wrong. Technically, what you're saying may be correct if extremely strict criteria of 'death due to Chernobyl' are applied. But what about smth like 10 mln people who have thyroid problems due to Chernobyl? Not all of them died from them but some did (or will). And there are other health problems as well. That said, Portland is very far from Fukushima and Fukushima accident was quite a bit smaller than Chernobyl so there is no reason to worry.

          •  There aren't 10 mln people with thyroid problems. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Terranova0, Blubba

            There are a few tens of thousands.  That's tens of thousands too many, but, given the scale of the disaster, it's great news.  Apparently, humans are tougher than we thought.

            •  That was not my experience. I guess it depends on (0+ / 0-)

              how you define thyroid problems. The most common one is enlarged thyroid that still functions more or less ok. It's widespread within ~200 miles from Chernobyl. Since about 30 mln people live in that area, it lead me to this estimate. Maybe it's too high but it's certainly not in tens of thousands. Thyroid cancer is, of course, considerably less common than that.

              •  That's not what UNSCEAR reported last year (0+ / 0-)

                From this source (which summarizes this annex):

                Apart from the dramatic increase in thyroid cancer incidence among those exposed at a young age, and some indication of an increased leukaemia and cataract incidence among the workers, there is no clearly demonstrated increase in the incidence of solid cancers or leukaemia due to radiation in the exposed populations. Neither is there any proof of other non-malignant disorders that are related to ionizing radiation. However, there were widespread psychological reactions to the accident, which were due to fear of the radiation, not to the actual radiation doses. [My emphasis.]
        •  4000 isnt that like the lowest figure released? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          demimondian

          I tend to throw out outliers.

          FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

          by Roger Fox on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 09:45:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I have to admit I don't understand (4+ / 0-)

    the first paragraph of the diary: researchers from UC system were meticulously measuring, and finding trace examples of, radioactive fallout in various types of produce many months ago (e.g. link).  I'm not aware of anyone saying there wouldn't be any fallout; it's been a debate about how much and whether there would be cause for concern.   Look what UCSD was saying back in August about trace radiation in the air.

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 08:25:47 PM PST

    •  Some folks wondered if it wouldn't be prudent (7+ / 0-)

      ...to paint iodine on their skin to prevent uptake. (Or take pills.)

      Indeed, in some places (I was watching a live radiation map at the  time) like Seattle -- I thought, what could it hurt?

      But as a public safety issue, the government would definitely not weigh in on this.

      Even if a huge dose wafted over -- there is no way the government would NOT crush that information to quell panic. IMO.

      Thus, self-help is what most folks are left with. And keeping it to oneself.


      "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." - Aldous Huxley

      by Pluto on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 09:18:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I refuse to keep it to myself. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Terranova0

        I find censorship for any reason immoral.

        Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

        by Horace Boothroyd III on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 09:22:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Sure, as long as whatever methods people (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pluto, Horace Boothroyd III

        are taking aren't harmful to themselves, I guess.  I don't know much about the iodine thing (this really isn't my area).  

        Incidentally, have you ever seen The Crazies? (the original film, not the remake)  Fascinating study in how accidental release of a toxin, and attempts to contain the fallout, slowly turn into a bit-by-bit breakdown of all the anti-crisis measures we usually think are in place.  When Romero was in his prime he had a great sense of systems, and how fragile they really are.

        Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

        by pico on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 09:27:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ha! No, I didn't see it. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Horace Boothroyd III, pico

          But I'll look it up. Thanks. A plot right up my alley.


          "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." - Aldous Huxley

          by Pluto on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 09:31:20 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's a little uneven, but I really love it. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Horace Boothroyd III, Pluto

            One of the most interesting horror films from the 70s, even if it's a bit rough around the edges (and there's a subplot about an antidote that doesn't quite work).  But it's richly layered, and juggles a lot of issues very well.

            Here's a great write-up about it:

            George Romero's "The Crazies" (1973) has always existed in the shadow of his zombie movies, but this epidemic thriller is perhaps the horror maestro's most provocative exploration of his great theme: the collapse of social order.... This time capsule of the Vietnam/Nixon years feels as timely as ever today, not least because of Romero's deep skepticism of authority and his pessimistic view of human nature in extreme situations.
            I actually don't think he's quite as pessimistic about human nature (as applied to individuals) as he is about systemic breakdown itself.  Some of the worst actions taken in the movie are by people who are, despite everything, trying to do the right thing, and watching it all go to hell.  Sometimes good intentions just aren't enough.

            Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

            by pico on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 09:45:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  The first paragraph isn't too bad (3+ / 0-)

      It scares me that from blogging JNI, I can read it pretty well now. It's nothing surprising. I'd have to know how many becquerels were found in not just soil samples but in the foliage in the region, and also whether it was iodine or cesium. Since it seems to have stopped, my presumption is iodine which decomposed. Also, if it were in some remote part of Alaska, not so bad compared to if it were a more populated area. It's not specific enough. I think anyone from JNI would say that. If I'm wrong, I would hope they would correct me. I was mainly following food and soil contamination.

      I can't believe that I'm saying, "It doesn't read as that bad," because I don't support any nuclear power, energy, or waste (obviously).

      Who would be good to ask to double-check my read, Horace, is middleagehousewife or Wee Mama. IIRC, they were both good at following this too.

      I'm personally concerned about readings right now in fish and sea vegetables, as well as undisclosed or undiscovered readings in export products like green tea, which tends to aggregate this stuff. Any continued iodine would be weird since it has a half life of eight days. Cesium is more like 30 years, off the top of my head. 1000 becq's is the upper limit for some food products. Mostly 500. Depends on the food. Becq's aren't technically measurements of the radiation though. They're more like measurements of the measurement of radiation, which gets altered by density. So in aqueous substances, lower readings like 200 are far better. After Chernobyl, they found these huge readings in livestock and wild game in Germany. Much, much higher.

      I hope that helps!

      You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

      by mahakali overdrive on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 09:45:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Iodine wouldn't be weird (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Horace Boothroyd III

        Because there is ample evidence of ongoing recriticalities.

        "'club America salutes you' says the girl on the door/we accept all major lies, we love any kind of fraud"--The Cure, "Club America"

        by Wheever on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 10:20:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No evidence of ongoing recriticalities. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bryfry

          The report of rising temperatures in the core is attributed to a bad thermocouple and its readings are inconsistent with other thermocouples in the core. TEPCO did add boron as a precaution, but at this point nonexperts are cynically interpreting anything they do or don't do as evidence of something bad or of ongoing gross negligence.

  •  What this means is that USGS (6+ / 0-)

    is able to detect extremely small radionucleotide traces.  For contrast, go take a look at the estimates for the same isotopes during the atmospheric weapons testing era.  Of course that exposure is what made the boomers into the giant mutant zombies that you see at the shopping malls on weekends.

    Where are we, now that we need us most?

    by Frank Knarf on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 08:26:23 PM PST

  •  These are rads, dude. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib, NYFM, Blubba, erush1345, FG

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    And that's just I-131.  You can go look up cesium-137 and cobalt-60 and strontium-90 if you like.

    The exposures you are concerned about are mice-nuts.

    Where are we, now that we need us most?

    by Frank Knarf on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 08:35:38 PM PST

  •  I guess you should worry if you want to... (7+ / 0-)

    ...downtown Portland is built on generally unconsolidated fill material that will probably experience spectacular liquifaction when The Big One hits or when one of the half-dozen local faults let go (which is why I always stay in the hotels/motels near Lloyd Center when I'm in town for business).  Aside from that, there are an impressive number of large dams up the Columbia holding back inconceivable amounts of water.  As a veteran of the Mt. St. Helens eruption, I can assure you that you are surrounded to a degree you may not realize by dormant volcanoes big and small (but so am I out here in Central Orygun, so there ya go).  And, don't forget, there is a natural background level of landslides on the steeper ground in the greater Portland Metro area...

    ...so, yeah, you can worry if you want to...

    "In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upward mobile..." - Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

    by Jack K on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 08:42:42 PM PST

    •  The ring of fire. I hate to say but we are most (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Horace Boothroyd III, Mnemosyne

      likely getting overdue for a really big e-quake out here. And yes, liquifaction really sucks. Interestingly enough, the pro prepherial canal folks have been beating the drum for years now that we need the canal because the CA Delta will be destroyed in an earthquake. Funny, no Delta levees have ever failed from an earthquake. UCLA carried out a test on Sherman Island (proud resident here!). The results are quite interesting. And as Dr. Robert Pyke stated, might result in a few folks needing straight jackets.

      Researchers quake-test peat on Sherman Island

      And more

      NEESR II: Evaluation of Seismic Levee Deformation Potential by Destructive Cyclic Field Testing

      Sig seen on Redstate: ABO Anybody But Obama. Sorry, I'm stealing that.... Another Barack Opportunity. Vote Obama/Biden 2012!

      by mrsgoo on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 09:00:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't understand why across the river (0+ / 0-)

      would be safer. Similar geology.

      Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

      by Horace Boothroyd III on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 09:03:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do not know about Portland. But USGS did a map for (3+ / 0-)

        the Bay Area that showed how it would fare in an earthquake. It was amazing the differences in a small area. The Marina District which had so much damage in Loma Prieta is constructed on fill. Not far away - no fill, less damage. You might want to search USGS to see if they have done a map like that for Portland. I was living in Alameda at the time it came out (across from SF) and it blew my mind, the differences.

        Sig seen on Redstate: ABO Anybody But Obama. Sorry, I'm stealing that.... Another Barack Opportunity. Vote Obama/Biden 2012!

        by mrsgoo on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 09:10:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Across the Willamette River, in the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Horace Boothroyd III, erush1345

        the Lloyd's Center area, it's all about uplands, more stable soils nearer to the surface, and the absence of the sorts of unconsolidated marsh soils and waste materials that underlay the downtown Portland area near the Willamette River.  It's not actually all that much about geology, but rather is about the physical soils properties of the partially man-made substrate on which the downtown/Old Town portion of Portland is constructed...

        "In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upward mobile..." - Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

        by Jack K on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 09:42:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  FRONTLINE: Tomorrow night - FUKUSHIMA (8+ / 0-)

    It looks like a good report.

    Horace, we might never know all the facts or, if we do, don't feel alone in wondering.  Those of us old enough to know history have earned the right to be skeptical.

    It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

    by War on Error on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 08:43:23 PM PST

  •  To answer your question IMHO - NO. There wasn't (7+ / 0-)

    a damn thing any of us could do about it anyway. I'm in the CA Delta and I'm sure we got exposed. The thing we need to do now is make sure these f'n plants get shut down and no more are built. We can only try to protect the future generations.

    As an aside, my mom and dad (early 70's) live in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. They have been building wind turbines at speeds. My mom bitched and griped and moaned how horrible they looked. Then came Fukushima. We were on the phone right after it happened, yea I told her it's really horrible about all that radiation that is coming over from those wind turbines that were toppled by the earthquake. She hasn't bitched since.  

    Sig seen on Redstate: ABO Anybody But Obama. Sorry, I'm stealing that.... Another Barack Opportunity. Vote Obama/Biden 2012!

    by mrsgoo on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 08:45:03 PM PST

  •  Another interesting fallout map (4+ / 0-)

    I can't vouch for the source.

    http://www.colorado.edu/...

    Folks on the west coast should live forever.

    Where are we, now that we need us most?

    by Frank Knarf on Mon Feb 27, 2012 at 08:52:06 PM PST

  •  And Fukushima is still spewing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Horace Boothroyd III

    hasn't ever really stopped.

    “The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway” ~ Henry Boye~

    by Terranova0 on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 08:14:29 AM PST

  •  sure are a lot of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Horace Boothroyd III

    snowflakes floating around.

    a microsievert here, a pipeline piecemeal there

    It all matters and we should all be concerned.

    “The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway” ~ Henry Boye~

    by Terranova0 on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 09:24:46 AM PST

  •  "Increased diagnostic scrutiny" (0+ / 0-)

    my feathered tailbone!  Our is environment is polluted with many cancer causing substances.  I do realize it is impossible to pin the cause down to any one fleck. That's why I like to have as much control over my exposures as possible. My life's loaded with carcinogens- I do not need anymore.

    Article from before Fukushima:

    The Rising Incidence of Thyroid Cancer

    In men, however, the annual percentage change in thyroid cancer mortality increased significantly, by 2.4 percent, from 1992 to 2000 — the highest jump of any cancer. That is one reason many other experts argue that diagnostic tools are not the only factor.
    It remains to be seen how and if FUK will affect cancer rates, I'll grant that.

    The sad fact is there is almost nothing we can do about what's already been done, but we can be vigilant right now.

    We need to start reducing the snowflakes.

    “The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway” ~ Henry Boye~

    by Terranova0 on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 02:15:34 PM PST

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