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Yesterday, An estimated 1.6 billion becquerels of radioactive materials were released in Japan

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FourScore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-19-11 11:45 PM
Original message
Yesterday, An estimated 1.6 billion becquerels of radioactive materials were released in Japan
Japan pumps water into reactor to contain radioactivity
Monday June 20, 2011 00:26:29 EDT
TOKYO, Jun 20, 2011 (dpa - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX News Network) --

...Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), which runs the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, started Sunday to pour water into a pool on the top floor of reactor 4 of the six-reactor plant after it discovered the water level had dropped to about one-third of its capacity, public broadcaster NHK reported.

The drop caused equipment in the pool to be exposed, releasing high levels of radiation, officials said...

SNIP

...TEPCO also began late Sunday to release air containing radioactive substances from the building of reactor 2 by opening its doors.

An estimated 1.6 billion becquerels of radioactive materials were released, compared with 500 million becquerels when the double doors of the building of reactor 1 were opened in May, the Jiji Press agency reported, citing TEPCO...

http://www.quote.com/news/story.action?id=KRO171e8838
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-19-11 11:52 PM
Response to Original message
1. Click here if you had never heard the term "becquerels" until just now
And holy shit what a horror story.
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Ohio Joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-19-11 11:54 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. It sounds really bad...
But yeah... Never heard of a becquerel.
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Electric Monk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-19-11 11:57 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. Here's a nice conversion table for various units of radiation measurement
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/occup-travail/radiation...

Canada and much of the world uses units from the Systme International (SI) to measure radiation. The SI is based on the metric system. These units include the:

becquerel
gray
sievert
coulomb/kg

From the early 1900s, through to the 30s, until the 1960s, another set of units were used. They were called the:

curie
rad
rem
Roentgen

The United States still uses these units. You may also find them in older documents.

This table shows a simple comparison between the words used in the SI and the old system.

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/occup-travail/radiation...
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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-19-11 11:55 PM
Response to Original message
3. Unit converter
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SheilaT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-20-11 12:24 AM
Response to Original message
5. So what is that in terms that mean
anything to the average person out there? Is it a lot? Will it kill every living thing within a mile? A yard? A hundred kilometers? Will the radiation last longer than a day? A nanosecond? Until the sun dies?

Just saying that an estimated 1.6 billion becquerels of radioactive materials were released leaves me no more informed than I was before I read that sentence.
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Lasher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-20-11 01:16 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. You said it, Sheila
Is a becquerel the equivalent of a metric shitload, or is it more like a dash of salt in the ocean?
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TheWraith Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-20-11 03:38 AM
Response to Reply #6
8. A becquerel is the lowest possible measurement of radioactivity.
It refers to one atomic decay per second. In comparison, the human body has 4400 becquerels of continuous radioactivity from decaying potassium in the bloodstream. Land contaminated with more than about 500,000 becquerels per square meter is considered unsafe to live on.
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Lasher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-20-11 07:22 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. Hey thanks, Wraith.
Maybe I'll manage to get my little tiny brain wrapped around this better.
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SheilaT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-20-11 12:48 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. So to use becquerel as the
basic unit of measurement here, would be sort of like giving distances in in micromillemeters, or using some fraction of an inch expressed in scientific notation. It just isn't meaningful to the average person.
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TheWraith Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-20-11 01:16 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. Pretty much, yes.
Catch is that any measurement of total atomic decay energy is going to be pretty abstract. The only measurement of radiation which is easy to relate to real-world conditions is the millirem, but that's a measure of dosage, not of total radioactive decay. So you can't convert from becquerels to millirem. It's sort of the difference between measuring speed and volume--apples to lugnuts.
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Electric Monk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-20-11 01:20 AM
Response to Reply #5
7. Your hair won't be falling out, but the likely hood of kids born today getting cancer went up a bit.
Not a lot, but a bit.

Does that help?
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