Despite the frantic efforts of nuclear engineers, there has been a second explosion in the Fukujima Nuclear Power Station as an explosion has taken place in the third of the six reactors in the system. It is not yet known exactly what caused the explosion or what sort of radiation release, if any, is involved. While some of the radioactive fuel rods in the cores of the reactors have been damaged, there is as yet no evidence of a core meltdown with its consequent massive radiation release. So far, there radiation danger is not high except within the immediate area of the reactor station.

Engineers are pumping seawater and boron into the facility in order to absorb radioactive emissions, cool down two reactors, and prevent a meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 (Daiichi) plant. Should a meltdown take place, there will be a substantial radiation release, much of it consisting of Iodine 131. The plume of radioactive material will cross northern Japan, and move into western Canada and the US Pacific Northwest. Because Iodine 131 has a half life of 8 days, the threat will not linger, but the plume could reach populated west coast areas four to six days after any emission. Adults including breastfeeding women should take 130mg of potassium iodide per day. Children between 3 and 18 should use 65 mg unless they are of adult size. Children between 1 month and 3 years should receive 32 mgs per day, and babies should receive 16mg.

If an acute exposure is announced in your area, you should begin taking iodine within 24 hours of the arrival of the irradiated plume. Bear in mind that there is no evidence at this time of any radiation plumes being emitted by an Japanese reactor, and it appears that meltdown will be averted. There is no reason to start taking iodine at this time. Excess idodine is expelled by the body within 24 to 72 hours, but older adults especially are at the risk of allergic reactions. Read about iodine (KI) safety here.

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