Thursday, April 7, 2011

Korean Streets Deserted as Radioactive Rain Falls

Banana Equivalent Danger
Radioactive rain fell across Korea today prompting people to stay off the streets for fear of being contaminated by the deadly liquid. Although the rain is not as radioactive as that which falls during the Yellow Dust Season in Korea, it is more dangerous because it is being covered by the news media.

Unlike with Yellow Dust Season, the media has been quick to highlight the dangers of the radioactive rain, due to its Japanese rather than Chinese origin, and there is no risk of a diplomatic incident as South Korea’s diplomatic relationship with Japan is already rocky.

Scientists said that anyone out in the Japanese rain could be exposed by to up to a banana’s worth of radiation, although some of the scientists also claimed that even if a person drank two liters worth of such rainwater every day for a year, they still wouldn’t suffer any ill effects. It is not clear why some Korean scientists have been drinking radioactive water for such a long period to discover this.

A banana typically contains around 15 becquerels (Bq) of radioactive material, whereas a liter of rainwater falling over Korea today contained a little over a tenth of a banana’s worth, at 2.02 Bq. Scientists said that if someone fell in a large puddle of rainwater they might receive up to a banana of radiation, but crucially they wouldn’t mutate into one. However, one woman told reporters "I was driving my daughter to school, and one drop of rain fell on her lip from the open window. She said she felt a blister coming on." Fearful of the rain local governments advised local schools to refrain from outdoor activities, and some schools in Gyeonggi chose to close for the day or hold classes deep underground in civil defense shelters.

Not all the outcomes are expected to be negative. Scientists are hopeful that the radioactive rain will sterilize the streets from all the dirt and bacteria which people are always frightened of getting into their houses, and the rain has been good for retailers too, with many shops who moved quickly to capitalize on people’s fears reporting high sales of products including iodine-laden seaweed, which is believed to protect the body from radioactive particles. Before the rain came, it had been feared that given the amount of radioactive water which has been spewing into the sea since the Fukushima nuclear accident began, the seaweed would be unsellable given the likelihood that it is now even more radioactive than the rainwater.

Related Links
Some South Korean schools close over radioactive rain concerns
Radioactive contaminants found in Jeju rainwater
Radioactive rain fear overblown
Yellow dust from China contains radioactive substance: institute
Radioactive squid may find way onto Korean dining table

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