After the recent earthquake in Japan, friends and family have been calling me in a panic about the possibility of radioactivity from Japan’s damaged nuclear reactors reaching Hawaii and the West Coast. They all said they needed to hear a sensible voice in the sea of fear and panic from news reports, their local community members and other sources.
Panic and fear can have powerful results and sometimes can even be harmful. It can cause people to react in many ways. Some people are glued to the news reports getting more anxious with every new bit of information. Some are very quick to swallow any remedy they hear will block radiation without fully knowing the effects and the dangers involved. Some have even fled their homes to live in a “safer” place. I would like to suggest taking a step back from this whirl-wind and taking a few moments to breathe and reflect on a different, may I say more “sensible” perspective.
I have to say that I do not believe in ignoring the fact that there is a dangerous situation happening in Japan. People are dead and more may die, that is a tragic fact. I do believe in taking reasonable precautions and monitoring the situation without inundating your consciousness with too much angst-inducing information. That said, here are some things to consider…
Every bit of information that I have gotten from scientist friends (really friends of friends) say that it is not as bad as the news reports are telling us. Since I have produced and written news reports myself, I can tell you that the news reporters are doing their best to give you good information, but they often report the most “compelling” information which, in it’s nature of being compelling, can make a the audience react with emotion (fear, angst or otherwise). In a nutshell, the scientist are saying that the radiation from the nuclear plant in Japan will travel through the air, but disperse very quickly with distance. In fact, with every mile you are away from the source the levels decrease by the square. For example, if your radiation is 100 at the source if you are 4 yards away the radiation has decreased to approximately 25. This assumes a stationary source. This is not the case if you deal with an atmosphere. Radiation can spread with the wind but again over distance it will be diluted very rapidly as you move away from the original source.
Okay, let’s just say, some radiation does reach us.
Consider this… We are exposed to radiation daily. We even voluntarily do it to ourselves by taking plane flights, having x-rays or mammograms, living or working in concrete buildings. We even get a small dose by eating a banana. Of course we know it is not the best for our health, but most of us manage to stay healthy despite this constant exposure to radiation. And most of us are not fretting about this daily exposure. At this time of writing this post, we are not sure how much or how little will actually reach us. It may even be less than we receive on a daily basis. Since we don’t really know, your sensible girlfriend suggests that instead of reacting out of fear, get up-to-date facts and then you can act rationally upon real information. I know many people are just freaked out by the idea of any amount of “nuclear fallout” ending up in their community. I believe all this “freaking out” can actually make you more likely to get sick no matter how much or how little radiation hits us. The more you freak out, the more likely you are to stress yourself, lower your immunity and possibly get sick (from radiation or anything else).
Another thing you may have forgotten about is the power of mother nature. Remember the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year and how environmentalist, scientists and other pollution experts were surprised that mother nature cleared things up so much faster than expected. Mother nature has amazing healing powers to counteract the damage that we humans cause. We forget about nature’s efficient self cleaning system. And even when we muck things up, she miraculously overcomes what we have done.
Here’s something else…
Many of the people that are extremely worried are worried more about their children. Children are more vulnerable because their systems absorb and metabolize differently than adults. They are more likely to develop cancers from smaller dose exposures. So, yes we do have to protect our children, but we also have to know what amounts of radiation our children are being exposed to before we just react out of fear. It could be physically harmful to give your child potassium iodide if he or she is not getting a level of exposure that warrants ingesting this chemical. It can be mentally and emotionally harmful for your family’s wellbeing to leave home and “run” from the radiation. Our homes are our children’s safe place. When we have to leave our home, it more than likely will be a traumatic experience for your children. And children look to their parents for emotional cues. If you are freaked out, your children will be effected emotionally. Any kind of concern about this situation should be kept to ourselves (adults) and not shared with our children unless they are old enough to comprehend what is really happening (and if so, explain it to them with facts and without a message of fear).
There is a lot of panic happening out there. I am just saying, stay informed, take reasonable precautions, and stay calm for the sake of your family and your own health.
My thoughts and prayers go out to friends and families affected in Japan.
Your Sensible Girlfriend