I’m a stay at home mum in Abbotsford BC. I have been gathering from the news we are getting about the Fukushima situation that we will likely be receiving unhealthy doses of radiation here in North America due to air currents bringing radioactive particles across the Pacific. Do you have any information about this? It is my belief that there are things we can do to protect ourselves and minimize our exposure. I am looking for instructions as to what can be done and also would like to see real numbers as far as radiation levels in our neighbourhood. Furthermore, here in the Fraser Valley there is a lot of food production going on, and I’d like to know if it’s safe to consume these products.

Thank you very much for your inquiry. Let me start out by reassuring you that we are not receiving any dangerous doses of radiation in Canada from air currents bringing radioactive particles across the Pacific, and that it is safe to consume food products from the Fraser valley.

It is true that there were some radioactive particles that did travel across the Pacific and reached North America about a week after the initial accident last year, but the amount of these particles and the levels of radiation were so low that it was not a health concern. The fact is that we are constantly exposed to background radiation from the ground, cosmic rays and other natural sources. The increase in radiation levels above background due to the Fukushima accident was so small that it could only be detected with very sophisticated instruments. At the present time, there is no radioactivity in Canada due to the Fukushima accident above normal background levels.

Health Canada has a system of radiation detectors placed across Canada. Some of the data (up to and including 2011) is available at the following website. The table on this page shows that there was no appreciable increase in radiation dose in the air after the Fukushima. Other sets of data for other cities and time periods are also available on the Health Canada website.

Again, because the amount of radioactive particles that reached Canada was so low, it was at the time of the accident and is still at the present time safe to consume food products from the Fraser Valley and from anywhere else in Canada.

If you are looking for some more hard numbers, there is some data in a report recently released by the World Health Organization entitled, “Preliminary Dose Estimation from the nuclear accident after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.” This is a rather long report and is sometimes rather technical, but to summarize, radiation doses to countries neighboring Japan and in the rest of the world were less than 0.01 mSv, and usually significantly less than that (mSv are units of radiation measurement). Page 54 of the report provides some practical examples of how much radiation this compares to; for example, 0.01 mSv would be the same dose that one might receive from a 2 dental x-rays. A copy of that report can be found at the following link.

You had also asked about what can be done to protect ourselves and minimize our exposure from radiation. In the event of a radiological or nuclear emergency there are things that can be done, such as evacuation, sheltering in place, taking stable iodine and avoiding the consumption of contaminated water and food. However, none of these measures were required here in Canada and the time of the accident and are not necessary at the present time because, as was mentioned, the amount of radioactive particles that reached Canada was not a health concern and was hardly measurable above the natural background of radiation. More information on these topics can be provided if you are interested.

I hope that you find this information both helpful and reassuring. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask.


About the Author:

  Related Posts
  • No related posts found.