kowalskil

Tsunami-related Fukushina accident will probably renew debates about nuclear electricity. Such debates should be based on what is known about negative effects of nuclear radiation. Numerical data below should be useful in that context.

The effect of penetrating radiation on a person depends on the dose received. The common unit of dose is Sievert (Sv). Smaller doses are expressed in milliseverts (mSv) or microseveret. The old unit of dose, rem, is also used widely (1Sv=100 rem)

A dose of 10 Sv will most likely results in death, within a day or two.
5 Sv would is kill about 50% of exposed people.
2 Sv can also be fatal, especially without prompt treatment.

0.25 Sv = 250 mSv is the limit for emergency workers in life-saving operations.
0.10 Sv = 100 mSv dose is clearly linked to later cancer risks.
0.05 Sv = 50 mSv is the yearly limit for for radiation workers.

0.004 Sv= 4 mSv typical yearly dose due to natural radiation (cosmic rays, etc).
0.003 Sv= 3 mSV typical dose from mammogram

The one day dose, due to Fukushima accident, at a distance of 30 miles from the damaged reactors, was reported (on 3/16 and 3/17) as 0.0036 mSv. I do not have data on doses, probably very large, received by those who worked near or inside reactors. But I have no doubt that each of them was carrying an individual dosimeter. No deaths due to radiation have been reported in Japan, as far as I know. Many lives, however, were lost in Chernobyl, by those who worked to minimize damage.

Ludwik Kowalski
Professor Emeritus
Montclair State University, USA
Kino
Confused1
What about 'counts per second' and 'counts per minute' - is there any way to make sense of this data?
rpenner
Counts and Sieverts don't measure the same thing.

Counts (the SI unit is the Becquerel = 27 pCi ) are a measure of how much radioactive material there is times how fast it is decaying.

Sieverts are a measure of how much energy is absorbed by the human body and a scaling factor from 1-20 to indicate how much ionization damage is done.

Converting counts to Sieverts includes factors like distance, the spectrum of energy and types of particles seen, time of exposure, mass of the person hit, fraction of the emitted radiation which hits the body, and for partial body exposure a weighted factor based on which tissues were hit. (It's a little messy).

For a 70 kg person and a hypothetical ingested radiation source which consists of 200 MeV nuclear fissions, 1 Bq < 33 nSv/hour or 0.05 Sv/hour > 1.5 MBq = 41 μCi

For a 70 kg person standing close (1 m) to a hypothetical source of 1 MeV gamma rays:
1 Bq < 0.7 pSv / hour or 0.05 Sv/hour > 76 GBq = 2 Ci

Human bodies are naturally radioactive with activity in excess of 4 kBq from potassium-40 alone.
Then there is the Banana Equiv Dose

http://tech.mit.edu/V130/N56/yost.html

Arthur
flyingbuttressman
QUOTE (adoucette+Mar 22 2011, 03:30 PM)
Then there is the Banana Equiv Dose

Confused1
QUOTE (rpenner+)
(It's a little messy).

Indeed it is.

Undated but recent..

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/9428501.stm

QUOTE

1245  Steve Herman, Voice of America Bureau Chief  tweets: "Got rad tested in Koriyama: My body 1500cpm, my boots 3000 cpm. Another reporter: 10,000 cpm on her shoes."

It would be interesting to know what the normal count would have been .. your guess?
[mine <10cpm]

And the banana?

-C2.
rpenner
A little hard to tell since not every radiation meter works the same.

Since the total activity of a 70 kg human is about 8.1 kBq, that's 490,000 counts per minutes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potassium-40
http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~scdiroff/lds/Q...dShielding.html

3700 Bq from C-14 0.16 MeV Beta-particles (that's only 42 μSv/year but note that some of that C-14 is in your DNA)
3928 Bq from K-40 1.3 MeV Beta-particles (About 365 μSv/year )
472 Bq from K-40 1.5 MeV gamma rays (About 51 μSv/year )

Now Betas of such low energy are typically absorbed in the first cm of flesh.
So approximating the human body as having surface area of 1 m^2 = 10,000 cm^2, then activity through a 4 cm^2 window ought to be about:

11 cpm on gammas and 8 cpm on near-to-the-detector-produced betas.

So I think 10-60 cpm should be "normal background" for humans, largely depending on detector.

For the hypothetical meter, the cosmic ray flux is about 1/minute/cm^2 or 4 cpm for a 4 cm^2 window.
Confused1
My estimate was based on an analogue device made in the 60's.
I bow to rpenner's superior knowledge and thank him for his integrity.
rpenner