Radiation Exposure And Tohoku Earthquake In Japan

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On March 11, 2001, an earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0 on the Richter scale hit Tohoku, Japan, the biggest earthquake in the history of the country. Along with over 15,000 deaths, the earthquake and the subsequent tsunami caused significant damage to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear plants (Oskin, 2017). The radiation leaks from the damaged plants led to the immediate evacuation of residents within 20 km of the area and those within 20-30 km were highly suggested to stay inside or evacuate as soon as possible (Zare & Afrouz, 2012).

It was also thought that there was substantial radioactive deposits in the Pacific Ocean. This accident was classified as a Level 7 in the International Nuclear Event Scale, which is defined by a significant release of radioactivity and widespread negative health outcomes for the people in the surrounding area. The only other event that has been classified as a Level 7 is the Chernobyl Power Plant explosion in 1986, demonstrating the devastating magnitude of this accident (Mahr, 2011). The biggest hazard from this nuclear accident was radiation exposure, specifically iodine being the most prevalent. Increased exposure to radioactive iodine is particularly dangerous because it is in known to increase the risk of thyroid cancer (Drew, Swirsky, & Tarrago, 2002). The biggest stakeholders from this accident were the residents that were in the surrounding area. The people who were closest to the power plants had the most amount of radiation exposure, especially the young children. Furthermore, the accident had an effect on the whole Japanese population due to the risk that sources of food were contaminated from the radioactive meltdown. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the owner of the Daiichi nuclear plants, was responsible for minimizing the spread of radioactivity from the power plants.

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        The source of the radioactivity leak resulted from the tsunami’s pressure disabling the cooling devices of the nuclear reactors. The generators were then unable to cool down, leading to nuclear meltdowns and a substantial amount of being radioactivity released (Mimura, Yasuhara, Kawagoe, Yokoki, & Kazama, 2011). The most common way people were exposed to the radioactive particles was through inhalation. The amount of radioactive iodine inhalation was dependent on how long the residents in the surrounding area were exposed to outside air and the intensity of the activities they were performing outside (Akiba, 2012). The other major pathway for the radioactive iodine is through ingestion. Ingestion of food from an area with high levels of radioactivity can be a major route of exposure. Specifically, looking at milk and dairy intake is crucial because that is the primary source of thyroid ingestion, especially for children (Steinhauser, Ch?- vez-Ortega, & Vahlbruch, 2017). Other sources of ingestion can include drinking tap water and consuming fish, such as contaminated tuna (Fisher et al.,

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