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19 March 2011 @ 03:00 pm
Becasue Everything's More Clear When Expressed In Bananas  
A banana equivalent dose (BED) is a concept to place in scale the dangers of radiation by comparing exposures to the radiation generated by a common banana.

This means, thanks to the wonders of the Internet (thank you, Internet, for providing me with this handy-dandy Becquerel to Curie converter, because a week ago I'd never heard of a becquerel, much less had any idea how to convert it to nanocuries), I've been able to determine that the dose of radioactive iodine of 170 becquerels detected in the Fukushima city water supply is equivalent to 12.4 bananas. Note: That's not the dosage one receives from eating 12.4 bananas; that's how much one is exposed to radiation by 12.4 bananas.

I've had some friends and relatives express concern that I'm not planning on canceling my trip to Japan planned for the end of May, about 8 weeks from now. While I appreciate the concern, from the numbers released from the Japanese government of readings taken yesterday it looks like if I were to go to Utsunomiya (a city I plan on visiting in two months) right now, I would be exposed to and additional 5.62 bananas while I'm there. It's sweet of people to worry, but given the half life of radioactive iodine is about 8 days, I suspect that I probably will not need to wear special clothing to handle the additional five and a half bananas' worth of exposure.

(The Japanese government, by the way, lists safe exposure at the 21.9 banana level. Personally, I'm a bit concerned with how lax the US government is on their standards, since I regularly see more than 30 bananas at a time in my local supermarket.)
(Deleted comment)
Sandpanthersandpanther on March 21st, 2011 02:30 am (UTC)
She should totally go. I had an opportunity to study abroad when I was in college and ended up not taking it for what seemed like really good reasons at the time, and have regretted it ever since. Actually being somewhere where she has to use the language constantly will help out so much in achieving full fluency, and is a great opportunity. Hooray to you all for not listening to the news media's inflated panic!

Tokyo's fine. It'll take a lot more disaster than what we've seen so far for Tokyo to be under any threat from the radiation. As far as I can tell it survived the earthquake reasonably well, which I consider to be pretty impressive given the magnitude of the 'quake. Because of how Tokyo Bay is angled, it was never in any danger from the tsunami.

From what I've seen, the radioactivity they're detecting in the food and water is radioactive iodine. It has a half life of about 8 days. It'll all be gone long before she gets there. If they have to vent more steam then that will release more of the cesium, which sticks around longer. But even if that happens, it's unlike that Tokyo will receive any significant dosage.

(I've been doing a lot of research, since I've got a trip to Japan planned in two months.)
Cirdancirdan_havens on March 20th, 2011 05:21 am (UTC)
My sweet, my sweet banana...

Well, you'll still have time to change your plans if anything explodes.
Sandpanthersandpanther on March 21st, 2011 02:48 am (UTC)
Trip insurance is my friend.

So are bananas. Mmmm, bananas!
like a fortune cookie (short and vague): keita ][ !konzatsu on March 21st, 2011 05:53 am (UTC)
i already know my family's going to worry about me going in the summer, and my coworkers are already asking me about this. i think i'm going to have to send this to my dad and make him show it to my grandmother to avoid any panicked phone calls.
Sandpanthersandpanther on March 22nd, 2011 03:54 am (UTC)
Please feel free to share this! I'm going in about two months, so I've already gotten one extended freak-out from my folks, and expect to get more from the relatives later. Another article to look at (from someone genuinely scientific, rather than just me and Wikipedia) can be found here. MIT's Nuclear Science and Engineering department has been hosting a blog with useful information as well. I'm planning on doing a more detailed post on why, exactly, things aren't as scary as the news media is making it out to be, but I've run out of time tonight. Bottom line: most of the stuff they're finding is Iodine-131, which has a half life of 8 days. By the time you get there, all of it will be gone.