Original estimates of xenon and krypton releases remain the same, but a TEPCO recalculation shows dramatic increases in the release of hot particles. This confirms the results of air filter monitoring by independent scientists. Fairewinds' Arnie Gundersen explains how hot particles may react in mammals while escaping traditional detection. Reports of a metallic taste in the mouth, such as those now being reported in Japan and on the west coast, are a telltale sign of radiation exposure.
Arnie Gundersen: Hi I'm Arnie Gundersen from Fairewinds.
There has been a lot of discussion in the press in the last week about Tokyo Electric changing their estimate for the amount of radiation that was released at Fukushima,
and there has also been a lot of discussion about radioactive hot particles being
discovered all over Japan. I wanted to tie those two together today and talk about just what that means.
First, Tokyo Electric recalculated the amount of radiation that came out of Fukushima
in the first week. And they discovered that that first week released twice as much radiation as they had thought was released in the entire accident. So it released an enormous amount more than they anticipated.
But the second piece of that, is that most of these new numbers, most of these new radiation particles, were hot particles. And here is why. Right after a nuclear fuel melts, it releases all of it's gasses and those gasses are called Xenon and Krypton. They are noble gasses, they don't react and they surround the population, bombard the population, with gamma rays. Now that part of the calculation is pretty straightforward. That part doesn't change with this new estimate from Tokyo Electric.
So the Xenon and Krypton part of the estimate is there. But what has changed is that they have realized that an enormous amount more hot particles were released. Now even then, this is an assumption, remember all of the radiation detectors were blown to smithereens. And still they are assuming that about 98% of the radiation is still inside that reactor. But this new radiation is in the form of hot particles. What are they? Cesium, Strontium, Plutonium, Uranium, Cobalt 60 and many, many others. When you go outside and you are in a cloud of noble gasses, you could pick it up with a radiation detector, because you are bombarded by gamma rays.
But when you are in hot particles, unless there are many, many, many, it is very difficult to detect a single hot particle. But that doesn't mean it is not dangerous. We are discovering by scientists, independent scientists, using air filters in Japan, that the average person in tokyo breathed in about ten of these hot particles every day all the way through the month of April. Those same scientists, using air filters, are discovering that in Fukushima, people were probably breathing in 30 or 40 times more radiation than they were in Tokyo, again in the form of a hot particle. What surprised me is that the air filters in Seattle, indicate that the people there were absorbing 5 hot particles every day for the month of April. What does that mean? It means that that hot particle gets absorbed in your lung, or it winds up in your intestines or it winds up in your muscle or it winds up in your bone. It constantly bombards a very narrow piece of tissue. Now we have here a picture of a lung from an ape and there is a hot particle in the lung. And you can see how localized the damage is from that hot particle constantly bombarding the ape's lung. Now a constant irritant like that your body fights, and most of the time your body wins. Sometimes however, those hot particles can cause a cancer and of course, that is a grave concern. Now you can't run a geiger counter over someone's lung on the outside to determine if they have a hot particle. Because those particles, those rays, don't travel outside the body. They do their damage to the local tissue.
But we know they are there, because the air filter results indicate that they are.
Since I was about 16 years old, I used to work on cars a lot. I know that if I was working on a car in Japan right now, I would be using gloves and a respirator if I was removing the air filter in a car, because I know that there is radiation on those air filters. That is what the independent scientists are telling us.
The last thing I would like to talk about tonight is that there have been reports coming out of Japan, of individuals tasting a metallic taste. Now this is not the first time that that metallic taste has been detected after a nuclear accident. People near Three Mile Island detected a metallic taste in their mouth. People near Chernobyl detected a metallic taste in their mouth. Also, patients undergoing radiation therapy for cancers also have detected a metallic taste in their mouth. This is anecdotal. It is very difficult to measure, but that we are seeing it in Japan confirms what has already been detected at Three Mile Island and at Chernobyl.
That's about it for tonight. Next week, on Thursday, June 16th, I will be at the Boston Public Library between 6 o'clock and 8 o'clock at night. The topic is: Fukushima - Can It Happen Here In The United States? I will be with David Lockbaum from the Union of Concerned Scientists and Dr. Richard Clapp, an epidemiologist. If you are in the Massachusetts area, it would be nice to meet you there.
Thank you and I will keep in touch.