The government will give out iodine pills to people living near the Indian Point nuclear power plant in White Plains, New York, in case of a terrorist attack. This was decided after the recent warnings about attacks on nuclear power plants. In case of an attack, they would help prevent thyroid cancer by blocking the absorption of radioactive iodide, which is one of the gases that would be released if a plant is attacked.

However, the tablets are effective only if take before exposure to radioactive material, says Kenneth Mossman, director of the Office of Radiation Safety at Arizona State University. “Iodine is only one of the sources of radiation exposure,” he says. “If you get exposed to radioactive cesium, for example, the iodine tablets aren’t going to help you.” Also, some people are allergic to iodide.

But how are we going to know about an attack in time to get?and take?the pills, or take any other precautions? A company called Homeland Protection says it has invented a Raditect radiation detector, which it?s been advertising on TV for $149.

The ads give this reassuring message: “With the recent increase in terrorism you and your family are at more risk than ever. The nuclear power plant near you may be the next terrorist target! Defend yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of radiation.”

The ads go on to say that, “If harmful levels of gamma radiation enter your home, Raditect will ensure you and your family are given immediate warning so you can evacuate quickly.” It turns out this is only one of many radiation detectors that are available on the internet.

Actually, the most likely type of nuclear terrorist attack would be a dirty bomb, assembled from radioactive scraps such as medical waste and detonated by conventional explosives. Blowing off a sophisticated nuclear device requires great technical skill and difficult-to-obtain materials. “It would make an awful mess but would really kill very few people,” says terrorism expert Richard Garwin.

This wouldn?t pose much danger for people nearby, but could pollute nearby farmland and water supplies, and also blow radioactive pollution over an extended area. “Think about it , if the wind is blowing, there’s no way of tracking that,” says Jake Thompson of Homeland Protection.

Philip Hoag, who knows all about protecting against terrorism, came on Dreamland right after Sept. 11 and told us that one of the best things to have around the house is duct tape. Those familiar silver strips can be used to seal around the edges of doors and windows and will keep most radiation out, as long as you stay inside for 48 hours. He warned against buying military surplus equipment, because most of it is no longer effective.

Before we run out to stock up on radiation detectors and iodine pills, we should remember that methods the terrorists used last time (airplanes flown into buildings) took us?and the FBI and CIA?completely by surprise.

In times like these we need our Spirit Allies. To learn more about them, read ?Spirit Allies? by Christopher Penczak,click here.

To learn more,click here.

To read science reporter Linda Howe?s article ?Could Asian Nuclear War Radioactivity Reach North America??,click here.

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