The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Japanese “Nuclear Fallout Map” is a FAKE!!!

Posted by mattusmaximus on March 15, 2011

[**Update (3-16-11): There also appears to be a fake text message warning people of "fallout" coming their way.  Just an FYI, folks.]

You know, over the weekend when I was doing a bunch of research for my last blog post - Know Nukes: The Japanese Earthquake & Anti-Nuclear Hysteria – I briefly ran across an image about the supposed “fallout pattern” from the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.  I thought, “What a bunch of bullshit” and then moved on; not until later did I think that we’d probably be seeing that image again in the context of a hysterical, ranting chain email.  And I was right – here it is…

This is a completely, 100% bogus map, as is the email associated with it! As the fine researchers at Snopes.com have discovered, it has no association with the Australian Radiation Services, and any implication by the map that there will be nuclear fallout, a large release of radiation, or any kind of far-reaching health/environmental damage is nothing more than rank fear-mongering.

I don’t know what kind of asshole puts something like this image out there at a time like this, but I don’t find this funny in the least.  Most especially at times such as these, what we really need is to slow down, act calmly & coolly, and think about things in as rational manner as possible.  Freaking out, going hysterical, and blindly buying into & passing along garbage such as this “map” is only going to make a bad situation far, far worse.

[**Update (3-17-11): On the question of the Fukushima site and radiation, if you want to get more regular, reliable updates, I suggest using the World Nuclear News website - here’s more from that site in a recent update…

… peaking at 400 millisieverts per hour (40,000 mrem/hour) on the inland side of unit 3, and 100 millisieverts per hour (10,000 mrem/hour) on the inland side of unit 4. At the highest exposure rate, a nuclear worker or soldier could remain in the area for less than 40 minutes before leaving the site, unable to return. …

… Despite high levels of radiation close to the units, levels detected at the edge of the power plant site have been steadily decreasing.

17 March, 4.00pm  -- 0.64 millisieverts per hour (64 mrem/hour)

17 March, 9.00am -- 1.47 millisieverts per hour (147 mrem/hour)

16 March, 7.00pm -- 1.93 millisieverts per hour (193 mrem/hour)

16 March, 12.30pm -- 3.39 millisieverts per hour (339 mrem/hour)

This means that if you are at the edge of the Fukushima site itself, then receiving about 60 mrem/hour is like getting 2 or 3 chest x-rays per hour, which is a very strong dose of radiation.  However, the intensity of the radiation gets a lot weaker the further away you get from the source (I believe it follows an inverse square law).  Thus, it should be noted that if the radiation levels are that low at the edge of the power plant site, then they are most likely well within acceptable levels by the time you get to the edge of the evacuation zone, 30+ km away.  And there’s certainly no danger to people far beyond that point, including here in the United States and Canada.  Thus, despite the fact that some radiation has been released on the Fukushima site itself, the notion that any kind of "fallout cloud" will spread far & wide beyond that site is utter nonsense.

In addition, a good reference on the levels of radiation exposure (and related health effects) can be found here - http://www.epa.gov/radiation/understand/health_effects.html#anyamount – note that those values are in rems, whereas most of the exposure I've been referencing in these reports is in milli-rems (mrems).  Bottom line: the people who are going to be affected the most are the workers right there on site, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them are getting a potentially lethal dose; as for everyone else, I think the danger is practically non-existent.]

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22 Responses to “Japanese “Nuclear Fallout Map” is a FAKE!!!”

  1. [...] Japanese “Nuclear Fallout Map” is a FAKE!!! [...]

  2. Elisha said

    Hi Matt. I’m so glad I found your blog. I’ve been reading it for a couple of days now. It’s awesome!!! I miss you guys.

  3. csdaley said

    Thanks for this. The misinformation out there about nuclear issues in Japan has been a topic of discussion in my classroom.

  4. Thanks for dispelling this misinformation. That’s what I get for getting my science news from Cultural Studies’ websites. I got pwned.

  5. ed said

    fake my ass,remember after Sept.11Th how the government sead the air quality standard was good and how thousands died from aspestece exposure later ?do you want to take a chance and listen to them guys,not me so lets face it now -the big governments want to keep the markets rolling so the big business can continue making the green backs.think about it -nuclear fallout,jet stream its a no brain er

    • MIKE said

      Ed, go back to school & learn how to spell, pick up a dictionary while you are at it.

    • Matthew Ebrey said

      Ed, You have made me laugh tonight. What unintelligible dribble. I concur with Mike. Sort out the basic stuff like spelling and grammar before you try the big stuff.
      Also, I am in the prefecture next to Fukushima, and have a fear rate of 0% right now.

      • DocRask said

        What a silly notion you have there Matt. “I am safe!” How many times have you been exposed?
        And to what degree? Do you know?
        I wonder if your mind has changed in the last few weeks.

        http://www.idealist.ws/index.php

      • mattusmaximus said

        I live in the area of the United States with the highest concentration, per capita, of nuclear power plants in the nation. And I feel perfectly comfortable with that. It just really sucks breathing all of this clean air free of coal-dust and other pollutants ;)

  6. I agree with you. There is much fear due to Media-pressure out there. Why are people so Afraid of Plutonium and Uranium all the time for example. These are the least of your worries if you have C-137 or S-90 floating around..

  7. [...] Japanese “Nuclear Fallout Map” is a FAKE!!! [...]

  8. [...] Japanese “Nuclear Fallout Map” is a FAKE!!! [...]

  9. Sanford said

    Well, I’ve been keeping track of all this fallout business from the beginning and I have to say, it’s not looking good. There are reports from Arkansas and several other states concerning elevated radiation levels in milk and municipal water supplies, as anyone who’s been keeping track of this has probably heard by now.
    So if this is all B.S. then why is radiation showing up all over the U.S.? And most importantly, why isn’t the media talking about it? Telling the public that radiation levels are only “slightly elevated” and causes no health hazards. Just like our Government “experts” told the natives living around the Atoll islands out in the Pacific the same line of nonsense after they tested twenty-three nuclear devices including the first hydrogen bomb between 1946 and 1958. 10 years later 90% of them had died from cancer.
    Also it has been announced that Fukushima will most likely surpass Chernobyl as far as radiation emission levels are concerned.
    Now, if radiation from Chernobyl was detected all over the northern hemisphere (and that is a fact)and the Fukushima event is supposedly far worse, what fool in their right mind would question whether or not radiation from the Fukushima event would make it to the U.S.?
    It has and it will continue to do so.
    Now to say this is “fear mongering” is ridiculous, I have checked my facts and I suggest everyone else does the same. Because it doesn’t seem like the people we pay to keep us informed concerning such things, are doing their jobs very well. As far as hair and teeth falling out, I don’t think it will get anywhere near that bad but, the long term health effects of low level exposure should be considered at least.

    • YH said

      Maybe you should check your ‘facts’ again. The tap water samples in Kawasaki City were clean on the 11th, 13th and 14th with 0.52 bq/kg of Iodine-131 on the 12th. As for the elevated radiation levels in milk and municipal water supplies in the US, I’d like to see data for the past 10 years to see if we can even establish a correlation to what’s happening thousands of miles away.

      • Sanford said

        lol oh really? Well, I’m not much into insulting people I don’t know but, if you can’t communicate any better with someone than that, then you deserve this………….
        If you’re too ignorant to figure out how a search engine works or how to do your own research, then why should I go out of my way to explain anything to someone who is obviously either in denial or a professional troll?
        Everything you said is a flat out lie.
        As I explained before, the elevated radiation levels in milk and water were confirmed by the U.S. media. So if I understand your statements correctly, you are trying to imply this radiation didn’t come from Japan? Where did it come from then genius?
        It takes less than 5 minutes to find articles outlining all of this by CBS news, NBC news, the New York Times and local news stations all over the country.

        Doubt, indulged and cherished, is in danger of becoming denial; but if honest, and bent on thorough investigation, it may soon lead to full establishment of the truth
        -Ambrose Bierce

  10. [...] #1: Here is the first comment I want to examine, regarding my blog post titled Japanese “Nuclear Fallout Map” is [...]

  11. [...] Sets Phasers for "Debunk" and PWNs John EdwardPsychic Gary Spivey Mega-Fail on Jimmy Kimmel Live!Japanese "Nuclear Fallout Map" is a FAKE!!!The Hypocrisy of the Creationist "Teach All Views" ArgumentThe Fallibility of Prominent Skeptics: [...]

  12. YH said

    You know, Sanford. It’s your prerogative to perhaps suffer a stroke from your own unscientific assessment of the situation. It’s a free world after all.

  13. internal contamination not external radiation is the danger said

    There is a difference between radiation and contamination. Also a difference between getting a dose of radiation externally (like an xray) and ingesting radioactive particles which then target specific tissues (eg thyroid, lung, brain, bone marrow etc depending on the specific element).

    Radiation levels from the site will follow an inverse square law, so yes, you won’t be able to detect radiation from the Fukashima site there in the USA. However, contamination in the form of radioactive Iodine, Cesium, Polonium and so on can definitely reach the USA (and did). They are released into the environment by explosion, the exposure of “spent” (but still hot) fuel rods which then combust (exothermic chemical reaction, meaning fire), leakages into the ocean and so on. These contaminents are then dispersed by air currents, ocean currents and commercial trade (contaminated foodstuffs, manufactured goods, etc).

    Whilst external to your body, the radiation from such particles is negligable, due to the inverse square rule, and may even be difficult to detect for this reason. However, once ingested, this very inverse square law starts working against you, since now the particle is surrounded by cells, and every single radioactive decay will certainly hit a cell within your body. Remember that a tiny particle will hold millions of individual atoms.

  14. zuess said

    Dear Matt, You are so full of shit. Check out enenews.com

  15. […] Angryadministrators source of information: http://techyum.com/2011/03/fake-fallout-map-is-fake-but-real-map-is-real/ http://skepticalteacher.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/japanese-nuclear-fallout-map-is-a-fake/ […]

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