Nuclear fears

Recent events in Fukushima,Japan has sent nuclear jitters to its Asian neighbours. Despite reassurances that the radiation dose is not harmful to health even in Tokyo which is only about 250km from Fukushima. Many are not taking a chance and have rushed for iodine tablets in order to protect the thyroid.

One of the radioactive isotopes released is Iodine-131 which is easily taken up by the thyroid and this can damage thyroid function. Taking iodine saturates thyroid uptake and therefore, hopefully it will not take up radioactive iodine.

Caesium radiation is not prevented by taking iodine. The radiation emitted can penetrate the skin. This isotope has also been detected at the Fukushima plant.

At the point of writing, the authorities in Japan are still fighting to prevent further damage to its reactor core which contains radioactive fuel rods.

Damage to radiation can last for centuries as the half life of these radioactive particles can be very long. Even the effects of Chernobyl disaster in 1986 is still evident today. Of course the radiation exposure from that incident was so much higher than Fukushima.

Low doses of radiation has recently been detected in California which is 10,780km away due to prevailing wind direction to the Pacific.

Should Malaysia be worried? As of today, Malaysia is hardly prepared for a nuclear crisis. Despite its nuclear ambitions, there has been little preparation towards this. The health infrastructure may not be able to handle the crisis should a nuclear fallout occur in Fukushima and that harmful doses of radiation arrive on our shores.

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