Fast Facts about Radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Reactors: Scientific American

Of interest to reference in these days of the nuclear accident in Japan.

Below are some facts and figures about the radiation hazard posed by the Fukushima breakdown and how it compares with other nuclear accidents in history. Many of the figures are measured in millisieverts, an international unit of radiation dosage. (One sievert is equal to 100 rems, which is a dosage unit of x-ray and gamma-ray radiation exposure; one millisievert is 0.1 rem.)

Radiation dose at the boundary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station on March 16: 1.9 millisieverts (mSv) per hour

Peak radiation dose measured inside Fukushima Daiichi on March 15: 400 mSv per hour

Maximum allowable exposure for U.S. radiation workers: 50 mSv per year

Average exposure of U.S. residents from natural and man-made radiation sources: 6.2 mSv per year

Estimated total exposure at the boundary of the Three Mile Island site in Pennsylvania during the 1979 accident there: one mSv or less

Average total radiation dose to the 114,500 individuals evacuated during the 1986 Chernobyl disaster: 31 mSv

Half-life of iodine 131, a dangerous radioactive isotope released in nuclear accidents: eight days

Half-life of cesium 137, another major radionuclide released in nuclear accidents: 30 years

Decay products of iodine 131 and cesium 137: both emit gamma rays and beta particles (electrons or positrons)

Amount of nuclear fuel in Chernobyl reactor No. 4 that exploded in 1986: 190 metric tons

Amount of nuclear fuel and fission by-products released into the atmosphere during Chernobyl disaster: 25 to 57 metric tons

Approximate amount of nuclear fuel in each crippled Fukushima Daiichi reactor: 70 to 100 metric tons

via Fast Facts about Radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Reactors: Scientific American.

About Stephen E. McGaughey
International consultant in financing development programs and projects

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