Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place. How can the government convince the American public that there are no health risks – zip, nada, zero – tied to radiation from Japan while simultaneously monitoring the food supply and issuing warnings not to drink rainwater? That’s an awfully tough line to walk – certainly difficult to walk convincingly.
Radiation has been detected in more than a dozen states, and some, like Virginia, are officially warning people not to drink rainwater (although officials are saying it’s okay for pets). One big concern is people in rural areas collecting rainwater in cisterns for drinking, cooking, bathing, etc. Many states are moving up scheduled tests on vegetables, in an attempt to head off any potential exposure. Officials credit these preventive measures to an “abundance of caution,” but the situation at least shows state and local officials are paying attention to the health risks that undeniably exist here in the United States.
The risk from contaminated food and rainwater is very different from the risk posed by “background” radiation, which is often used as a way to downplay health effects. The big risk here is not external exposure but internal exposure, from consuming the radiation via food or water, where it can accumulate. Once inside the human body, there’s a whole new level of risk that far exceeds things like x-rays and flying in airplanes. You can see the growing concern.
I would add that we don’t really know how much radiation is coming from Japan from day to day. It’s doubtful that the officials there even know, and if they do, we can be sure they’ll be slow to admit to the actual levels. It’s a bad situation, and amid the “don’t worry” messages from our public officials, we have to consider this as a bottom line: Americans today are being warned not to drink rainwater because of possible radiation contamination.
Here’s a story from NBC out of Washington: http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/118773249.html
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