Radioactive isotopes from a nuclear accident – 4 main types

How Does Radiation Affect the Body? Big Think, by MICHIO KAKU APRIL 16, 2011,“……Four different types of radiation are emitted during a nuclear accident like the Fukushima meltdown: iodine, cesium, strontium, and potassium. Physicist Michio Kaku, spoke with Big Think this week about these different types of radiation and the effect each one has on the human body. Like Chernobyl, he said, the main problem has been radioactive iodine: “That’s why people have been taking potassium iodide pills—to flood the thyroid glands.” But potassium
iodide pills are not “radiation pills,” he added. They protect against just one byproduct—iodine 131—not against cesium, strontium, or the extremely dangerous plutonium.

Below are these four different radioactive isotopes, their half-lives, and the types of cancer with which they are most often associated.


Half Life: 8 Days
Site of concentration: Thyroid Gland
Linked to: Thyroid Cancer


Half Life: 29 years
Site of concentration: Bone marrow (including, teeth)
Linked to: Bone cancer and leukemia


Half Life: 30 years
Site of Concentration: Equal distribution throughout body, though
eliminated fairly rapidly through the urine.
Linked to: Solid tumors, i.e. liver, kidney, and pancreas cancers.


Half Life: 24,000 years
Site of Concentration: Lungs and other organs
Linked to: Lung cancer

Takeaway:You already have a bit of Chernobyl in you, and soon you’ll
probably have some of Fukushima in you as well. “When the Chernobyl
accident happened some of the iodine went around the world several
times,” says Kaku. “In fact, you, I, everyone—we all have a piece of
Chernobyl in our body, but it’s microscopic, therefore, not
dangerous.” People in North America probably have little to fear from
Fukushima, but some experts forecast that up to 200,000 in the
surrounding areas may die from an increase in cancer over the next 50


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