Help, Kelp?! What to Do with Japan's Radiation (Possibly Heading Our Way)

Photo on 2011-03-11 at 10.42 #2

While I’m sure you’ve heard of the nasty earthquake in Japan – not sure you’ve heard that Japanese nuclear reactors spewed significant amounts of radiation that may be heading our way here in America.

Learn about this now: IODINE. Talk to your doctor about protecting your thyroid with supplemental iodine, my friends. Taking supplemental non-radioactive iodine prevents your body from taking up radiactive iodine. You know I’m not a fear monger, so let’s roll up our sleeves and talk prevention, and the role of this preventive micronutrient.

First, a prayer for the Japanese and their arduous, terrifying few days. May all beings experience peace. As the jet streams send OVER THE NEXT WEEK the radiation to Canada and the Western US, may all do what they can to learn how to manage it as safely as possible.
Second, there is not time for a slowly-formulated, methodically-researched, evidence-based plan (the type of plan I favor). It’s pull yourself up by your bootstraps with what we know, and what we’ve learned from previous accidents. Let’s turn instead to expert opinion on WTF we’re to do about the sitch.
I’ve read estimates that potentially significant radiation is to hit us here in the Bay Area, according to Dr. David Brownstein (but he has not yet provided sources). We really don’t know. I don’t know his sources and cannot find confirmation. Let’s hope they’re an overestimate!
Risks of radiation are listed right here.
If you are flush with iodine, it is far more difficult for radioactive fallout to bind inside of us.
Who are the thought leaders I turn to in times like these?
  1. Dr. David Brownstein
  2. CDC
I don’t totally trust the CDC because they are a government agency and often respond too slowly to be helpful. However, here is the CDC’s recommendations on iodine to prevent damage from radioactive iodine fallout.
  • Adults and breastfeeding women should take 130mg of potassium iodide (available at health food stores)
  • kids 3-18 should take 65mg of potassium iodide
  • kids 1 month to 3 years should take 32 mg
The World Health Organization states that the radiation released is not significant, yet 9 people have tested positive in Japan as of 10:30pm PST on March 12, 2011 for severe radiation exposure. Let’s hope we’ve seen the worst of it.Yesterday I was on the phone with my grandfather to wish him a happy 92nd birthday, and he warned me (before it hit the news) in his entirely cogent, commanding, MIT-graduate voice that there was tremendous danger with the Japanese nuclear reactors exploding or otherwise releasing nuclear fallout into the atmosphere. Thanks, Gramps, for the heads up. Dr. David Brownstein does not recommend starting the iodine now, he suggests we start 1-2 days before the the expected fallout. The oral potassium iodide lasts for 24-72 hours, so duration depends on how long we remain exposed. Follow the news, as he suggests, and plan accordingly. Keep checking back here to see what’s next.Non-radioactive iodine, such as the potassium iodide recommended by the CDC is relatively safe. Excess doses can cause palpitations and uncomfortable sensation of the heart beating but is usually tolerated well. Most of us are iodine deficient unless you mindfully take a supplement. You can also call my office at 510-893-3907 and check your urine iodine level if you have the luxury of time before the nuclear fallout arrives. Iodine is found naturally in sea vegetables, but you probably cannot get enough through food sources to prevent damage.Thanks to Helayne Waldman for connecting me with Dr. David.

Share any concerns or questions you have here in the comments section, and please spread the word to your loved ones on the West Coast.