Radiation Levels Not a Danger to Public Health

We are having one last snow storm here in the Northeastern United States. It’s making the kind of big, fluffy snow flakes that are fun to catch on your tongue. But don’t worry – the increased levels of radiation in the snow are too low to pose a risk to public health.

The nearest nuclear power plant to me is called Vermont Yankee. Like many U.S. nuclear facilities, it’s the same model and roughly the same age as the failed plants in Japan. Over the last few years, the 40 year old plant has been in the local news for periodically leaking radioactive water and steam. Each time, we are assured that the leaks “pose no risk to public health or safety,” so I am not worried. I have learned to trust our nuclear power plant operators and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that works for them.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Real scientists say that exposure to any level of radiation increases a person’s risk of cancer.” You clearly aren’t paying attention to your government or news media. Because if you were, you would realize that since there are already dangers out there, like natural background radiation, driving in the rain, and the chance of slipping on errant slugs, that new dangers are rendered inoperative.

That’s why I’ve decided to start smoking. You see, smoking won’t hurt me since I am already at risk from radiation leaks from nuclear power plants.

Protest nuclear power, and you could end up like these people (click the flower):

12 Responses to Radiation Levels Not a Danger to Public Health

  1. Samir Hafza says:

    To put what “real scientists” have said ( “exposure to any level of radiation increases a person’s risk of cancer.”) into the right perspective, let’s consider this scenario of my live-in housekeeper ironing my son’s clothes. She turns the iron on and waits for it to get hot. Often times she gets distracted by other chores and walks away from the ironing board. She comes back and tests the readiness of the iron by placing her finger on the plate for a fraction of a second. Voila! She doesn’t get burned. She does this almost daily, and still the epidermis and dermis of her finger are fully intact. To extrapolate further: even if she does this for the rest of her life, her skin will still be unaffected.

    But if she placed her finger on the hot iron for several seconds, (or if she were at a Libyan prison or at Abu Ghraib of the old days), you can bet that her skin would be sloughed off.

    Such is the case with exposure to radiation , to most drugs, or to other risky exposures. Dose and duration are usually the determining factors.

    As for smoking, I am assuming you were speaking of tobacco. Yes? Before you take up smoking (and take this giant leap in logic), you might want to consider these facts about tobacco leaves and radiation–aside from the 3,400 to 4,000 substances found in tobacco, 70 of which are known carcinogens.

    How does radioactive material get into a cigarette?

    The tobacco leaves used in making cigarettes contain radioactive material, particularly lead-210 and polonium-210. The radionuclide content of tobacco leaves depends heavily on soil conditions and fertilizer use.

    Soils that contain elevated radium lead to high radon gas emanations rising into the growing tobacco crop. Radon rapidly decays into a series of solid, highly radioactive metals (radon decay products). These metals cling to dust particles which in turn are collected by the sticky tobacco leaves. The sticky compound that seeps from the trichomes is not water soluble, so the particles do not wash off in the rain. There they stay, through curing process, cutting, and manufacture into cigarettes.Lead-210 and Polonium-210 can be absorbed into tobacco leaves directly from the soil. But more importantly, fine, sticky hairs (called trichomes) on both sides of tobacco leaves grab airborne radioactive particles.

    For example, phosphate fertilizers, favored by the tobacco industry, contain radium and its decay products (including lead-210 and polonium-210). When phosphate fertilizer is spread on tobacco fields year after year, the concentration of lead-210 and polonium-210 in the soil rises.
    Top of page

    What happens when I smoke a cigarette?

    Research indicates that lead-210 and polonium-210 are present in tobacco smoke as it passes into the lung. The concentration of lead-210 and polonium-210 in tobacco leaf is relatively low, however, this low concentration can accumulate into very high concentrations in the lungs of smokers.

    As it passes into the lungs, the smoke impacts the branches of the lung passages, called bronchioles, where the branches split. Tar from tobacco smoke builds up there, and traps lead-210 and polonium-210 against the sensitive tissues of the bronchioles. Studies show filters on ordinary commercial cigarette remove only a modest amount of radioactivity from the smoke inhaled into the lungs of smokers. Most of what is deposited is lead-210, but polonium-210 (whose half life is about 138 days) quickly grows in as the lead-210 (half life = 22.3 years) decays and becomes the dominant radionuclide. Over time, the concentration of polonium-210 directly on tissues of the bronchioles grows very high, and intense localized radiation doses can occur at the bronchioles.

    OK, I know you were saying that tongue in cheek. I trust that you’re too smart to start smoking at this stage of your life, for I’ve never met or known a vegetarian smoker.:-)


    • EricIndiana says:

      Yes – I was being sarcastic. But thanks for the detailed description of the process radioactive particles getting into cigarettes & lungs – could this be one of the causes of lung cancer from smoking, aside from the chemical carcinogens?


  2. Doreen says:

    Wow I am so sorry to pollute the air but at times in my life the pacifier cigarette has saved my sanity.


  3. myth buster says:

    If you normally drink two beers a night with no ill effects, do you think two beers plus a droplet of alcohol will do you any harm?

    Also, real scientists don’t dismiss the concept of hormesis out of hand. There is plenty of evidence supporting it, and to dismiss something without considering it is not science.


    • EricIndiana says:

      Are you suggesting that a small amount of radiation is actually GOOD for you, due to a hormesis effect?

      I actually wasn’t dismissing the hormesis effect in my post – I didn’t sarcastically say that background radiation would fortify me against radiation from a nuclear power plant, I just sarcastically said that I could dismiss the additional danger because I was already subject to some degree of danger, which is my interpretation of what the media and government is saying.

      As for hormesis, I think there’s a difference between the sort of toxins hypothesized as beneficial in infinitesimal concentrations by people who promote homeopathy and radiation. I’ve never heard of a homeopathic practitioner suggesting that people intentionally expose themselves to excess radiation, or that, say, having regular chest x-rays would somehow make you more invincible to the radiation leaked by a faulty nuclear reactor.


  4. Samir Hafza says:

    I was waiting for Myth Buster (Response #2 above) to dispel the myth the apologetic Doreen (Response #3) has stated that cigarette smoking relaxes her.

    The truth is that niccotine in tobacco is a vasoconstrictor and a stimulant. That means it raises your blood pressure and increases your heart rate–hardly calming effects. Out of the thousands of substances found in tobacco, none is a relaxant.

    To think cigarette smoking has a calming effect means lack of understanding how addiction works–something cigarette makers love to exploit in order to increase sales.

    Tobacco addicts reach for a cigarette when they’re happily excited (hardly an occasion or a reason to want to be calm); when they’re unwantingly pissed off (excuse my French and the redundancy); when they have sex (do you really want to be any calmer here?); after they eat; when they drink alcohol or coffee; etc. The addiction reward system (peptide hormones, neurotransmitters, endorphins, hypothalamus, pituitary glands, etc.) is hard at work here, while the desired dose (no. of cigarettes per day) is on the rise.

    Oh, did I also mention that carbon monoxide from cigarette smoking slows down oxygen supply to the brain and penis?


  5. l0oree says:

    lol I find that at work in a busy profession I might add dialysis charge nurse with handleing multiple problems and decideing the whole flow of the unit with patients workers MD social worker dietician transportation problems money problems time schedule to get off in time to meet budget with the cost of employees and cost of treatment supplies and what supplies we have don’t have need and keep up with the charting a must to get done cuz if it is not charted it wasn’t done in the eyes of the law and insurance re-imbursement. I am not stressed in the slightest and do not even take one smoke break while at work. I enjoy my job and find it calming to me without the cigarette.

    My stressful life of emotions of my Dad molesting me when only 7 daily for a whole year of my life mom not doing anything about it still married over 60 years. Adopted to these sick people not allowed to work only given an allowance of 1$ per day and only goal to be a college graduate had a/b in all 5 point classes was moved to a school that bumped me down a point in all classes my senior year then kicked out of home upon graduation day of highschool Saying get out of here you lazy bum. Single on my own age 17 working 3 jobs scraping pennies for gas to make it from work to home. Parents claim me on there own taxes so can not get a grant or a loan for college due to I have to work two years on my own taxes to qualify. Work two years take the ACT while still drunk from partying the night before and miss scholarship by 2 points. Work another year get the acceptance to a fouryear college and grant qualified the same day I find out I am pregnant with my boyfriend who I just found sleeping in my living room floor with another girl on my 21st birthday. I throw the college acceptance in the trash have my baby girl move into the projects get accepted to LPN school in college meet a very nice man at the time fall in love get married on spring break when baby one year old her birthday is March 25 1992 the spingbreak during college the following year Friday was March 26th. Married evicted from housing for that is not allowed to have a love life in subsidized housing. Moved to house bought by parents 250 rent which was the house note but electric bill was 400 per month. Husband lost job one month after marriage layoff. He took job out of town. I was home alone baby almost died mom did not care when I got to hospital was talking in word salad. Admitted to psych ward. Diagnosis childhood disassociation. Put on paxil finally my tears stopped. Quit nursing school took a job at factory supporting my family worked 5 years husband was a deadbeat got on drugs did not work and I was ready for divorce went to MD said I wanted birthcontrol due to my menstual cycles I only have like one everyother year was that way when I got pregnant with my daughter too and I did not want chance to get pregnant. MD drew my blood said no way for me to get pregnant as long as I did not have cycle. This was January I was so mad at time did not have sex at all with husband did not want the chance to get pregnant even though MD said I couldn’t. On our anniversary March 26 I had sex. Five months later thought I had cancer cuz sex caused pain so went to doctor next day I was five months pregnant. Son’s due date 12/25/1997. I worked continue supporting family while pregnant working in extreme heat whole time pregnant decide not to call it quits on my marraige due to now have son. Try and make it work out ask my husband how come no job? states cant work due to time to have to be at work and no daycare open during those hours which was true to I quit my job encourage husband to become journeyman carpenter in union all he had to do was take a test. He worked but the drug problem still continues till he was selling marijuanna to support his habbit. He was arrested twice for possesion. I paid for his bond getting lawyer with income tax return. Went back to work husband went to drug rehab got out and right back to same thing so I separated divorced went back to subsidized housing college. Landlord at time told me to watch daughter careful due to he saw the girl she was hanging around giveing blowjob to person for money behind the apartment. Told daughter not to be around her except in my presence and I was unconfortable telling her why when she was only 9 years old. She refused I had had conversation with her about her dad whom btw is paralyzed from torso down due to car accident when daughter 3 years old. She wanted to live with him sometime in future. In our talk I had agree at age 13 she could would be after she went through all the pueberty period and so forth. Since this incidence I called her dad and rushed the stay with him due to I did not want her in the enviorment she was in at the time with her friend and her being defiant of still wanting to be over at her house. So I gave temporary custody to her dad so she could live with him and he would qualify for two bedroom apartment without that my daughter would have to sleep on couch. On the paper I specified that was only temporary and after I moved which at the time I was on the list for section 8 houseing for the same county her dad lived in. After the move we agreed verbally to have shared custody and so forth. Was lies on his part he kept me away as much as possible and I was the saddest ever in my life. Troy kept me away even though I made him promise me he would never try to keep one of the only bloodkin that I have away from me. For I have never in my life met my biological family. I did move and continued college there tranfered all my credits and enrolled son in kindergarten during that semester my son got flu the first time of his life. I had to miss a week. Son could not go to daycare could not go to school. I got the call from the teacher went picked him up took to doctor prescribed the tamiflu and had to force it down his throat for my son is one that will not take medicine never has even as baby would spit it out every time. After that I just quit college took fs in all classes no more grant for when you do that it ends plus it was used up anyway. Went to unemployment office applied for jobs did the WIA enrolled in LPN school graduated during school went so far as to live in a homeless shelter for a month due to electric and water shut off at same time and only 142 per month tea money and was just impossible to pay them on that income. Anyways I graduated went to work in dialysis before even taking state boards. Could not afford state boards actually. My mom moved me from the section 8 housing to nice apartment 450 per month rent I was making at time 8.50 per hour. My bills and so forth were way over my budget but thought somehow by grace of God could manage especially since mom said she would help out a little if needed until I passed state boards and got raise. Time came 4 months later I needed the help due to I had all my bills paid on time cept my rent and I needed toilet paper and so forth so I was taking my mom on her word at the time and called she did not answer. I decided to go ahead and buy the things me and my son needed to live and my mom surely would contact me back and it would work out. I called left detailed message of my budget on her answering machine. Landlord took my front door off with a note attatched saying pay me my rent if you want your door back on. I called him up paid him all the rest of the money I had to live on until next payday which was 200 dollars and said I would pay him the next friday on payday and meet me here at this time due to I had already planned on going to baby shower which I helped to plan now for months. At the meeting time landlord did not show up. so I go to the babyshower get home and another note saying do I have to take your door off again. So I pack my things and go stay with Neicy and talk to her grandfather about moving to his back house for cheaper rent. Next I go to my apartment and there is an eviction note saying I was breaking the lease and had to move and still had to pay the whole amount of a years lease which was thousands of dollars. I took the eviction letter and called him and said I am not breaking the lease all that is owed for this current month is 250 and I paid 450 deposit when I moved in truely I am not even behind and you are the one breaking the lease I will stay and pay you your money but I am not leaveing and still paying you your money. He hung up and called back 10 minutes later said I could move out by the 1st and not owe him anything if out by then. So I started packing and moving as soon as Mr. Kirkendoll agreed to let me move to back house and 250 rent per month. I was packing and my parents show up at my house with my mom screaming to the top of her lungs Satan get the behind me. I politely pushed her out my door and kept on packing I did not need the extra stress. I was stressed to the max not sleeping at all working 6 days a week dialysis moving etc…. I went to Kirkendoll’s house somehow my parents come try to kidnap me back to their house 90 miles away I told them I cant go to there house I have work next day and son has school. We get to stoplight I try to open door and get out sister in back seat grabs door handle they pull in parking lot call paramedics to come get me I ride in ambulance to ER parents told them I tried to jump out a moving vehicle. The MD says I can go home with someone watching me. I get home they leave sister there. I continue packin for it is the last day of the month and only have till the first to be completely moved. I ask sister nicely to use cell phone to call my friend due to my phone shut off that is always the first bill for me to let go of. Anyways she says no calls the police on me in my own house when they get there I think what a relief let me ask this cop nicely to get my mean sister out my house. Sister comes out imediately behind me and starts haveing conversation with officer I realize she called the cop on me. When I realize this I slap her and needless to say cop takes me to jail in cuffs. I go to ER from jail lab drawn K+ critical low from there physch ward next day MD has me sign paper to be in hospital on my own free will and shows me legal papers of mom having custody of son. While in hospital Mr. kirkendoll in icu on lifesupport mom goes and gets my paycheck without my permission. I get my move the bill part started the electric switched etc.. the legal paper stated I was unemployed and homeless so not true I never missed a payday had sickleave and pto.Also why there parents without asking take the rest of my things pack in boxes and put in storage. I had to tell them get the things out of storage and put in the back house where I was moving too. I got out of hospital went back to work took state boards the next week. Moved to an all bills paid apartment got a raise to 11.10 per hour. Applied for RN school got accepted went back to school graduated again 2006. Went to travel dialysis nurse work without state boards again for this time I paid cash money from my pocket for college paid each semester before the next semester started. And I was only going to get a raise to 17 an hour and at time I had done the stupid payday loans and my check was completely gone on payday. Went traveling jobs close to AR so I could travel to see my kids. During this time daughter moved with my mom also with my son so bless I could finally see both my children. I would travel everyother weekend to see my kids for 5 days in less than 2 years I put 120,000 miles on my car. Daughter wanted to commit suicide and son never came out of room so I quit traveling took job full time and children came to live with me again. I moved to place I knew I cant afford due to my mom wont let my children go unless it looks good enough for her. I live a year with children and about to be living in ditch due to when traveling you have no bills and make way more. When I quit traveling I got a 10 cut in pay per hour and now bills. anyways I left out some between the second graduation from college and the children coming back but this is the stress that has me smoking and it calms me down enough to survive. I also notice my body has paradoxical effect to several things besides just cigarettes also nightime tylenol and cup of old english keep me up all night. And several medicines have paradoxical effect as well not all but several. I don’t like meds though only use them when nessasary and do therapy is enough for me most of the time. I hardly ever even take a tylenol.


    • EricIndiana says:

      You are an amazingly resilient person. WIth all of your challenges, setbacks and difficult circumstances you’ve still managed to become a skilled professional. Take care of yourself!


  6. l0oree says:

    Update: I have been smoke free now for 4 months :)No longer travel nursing in one spot, my son is with me and applying for magnent IB Diploma High school for next year and taking GT testing for this year, and daughter started her first year of college:) I pray son makes it he has scored 100% on every Taks test taken in the state of Texas. Oops I forgot last year only scored 98 on the Math. But the study homework for it my son says mom will you help me do my homework me said ya and he said ok great I already did one page you do the rest please and I did the other 7 pages for him cuz I am just sweet like that. MY bad he did not make the usual 100% that time.


    • samrxster says:

      Congratulations! It wasn’t easy, was it? To quit smoking is often harder than to quit cocaine. I am very happy for you.

      And I hope your kids will go on to be happy and successful.


      • l0oree says:

        I always say,” Hard is what you make it”. But I did feel withdraw symptoms for about two months. Migraines and sick. The end result is worth it. On the treadmill before quitting, heart raced to 186 in less than 5 minutes. After quitting, heart never went over 120 bpm.


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