Radiation: Don't Worry?
Most of us parents were young during the Chernobyl accident, and have vivid memories of our first exposure to the story of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I can still see, in my memory, terrible black-and-white photos of the devastation in Hiroshima. It was so inhuman; there was so much humanity. Exposed, its surface melted away. And the concept of the invisible threat, the sickness that eats away at you from inside, insidiously: how can it not stay with a girl?
Now we're faced with the crisis that will be our own children's Chernobyl, perhaps: the earthquake and tsunami that devastated so much of northern Japan, and the developing crisis as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant deteriorates. I took my boys to Seaside yesterday with my parents; Truman was so terrified of the idea of a tsunami that he kept going back to Grandpa's truck (there's a story there about the policemen who decided I was a very bad parent because I was spending more time calming everyone's fears than making sure I had eyes on all three boys -- a story for another day that I'm sure I'll tell soon). Everett got scientific and figured out how he could estimate the power of the waves through scientific observation, calming his own fears of one of those waves going Japanese on him.
The short answer to this crisis coming to Oregon shores, as I've learned after lots of research into Walletpop stories on radiation danger and sushi, is not to worry. About this, anyway; any radiation that gets here is at least a million times below toxic levels. Japan exports almost none of its fish, and whatever it would export wouldn't be any more dangerous than a mercury-laden river fish. (We in Oregon actually export a ton of fish and other products to Japan; it's an interesting story, too.)
There's plenty more to worry about. I'm freaking out on a near-daily basis about pesticides and the dangers of exhaust; I'm pretty sure it's part of the reason I struggle so with my boys. Other people are really concerned about radon in their homes; evidently, it's potentially a far, far worse source of radiation than any nuclear plant -- although you can have your radon levels tested and there's a fix. Other friends are having some big worries about lead contamination -- in the paint, in house keys, in the soil, in old furniture you hadn't suspected, in lots of jewelry little kids might get their mouths on (even though it's not meant for kids -- funny how that works). A bunch of us are very concerned about BPA and other plastic-based endocrine disruptors.
And another thing. I got an email which led me to this post I wrote forever and a day ago about radiation exposure of parents and how it affects the yet-to-be-born offspring. I didn't do a lot of research at the time and didn't follow up beyond the post. But I still haven't dismissed it. The mama who found my post wrote,
My dad had polio as a small child and was treated in an iron lung chamber. My aunts recall the doctors believing the radiation exposure is what caused his numerous bouts of cancer. My dad passed away at 40 after battling cancer most of his life.
All this attention on radiation has me wondering if I've been exposed, and what that potential danger could be. And, of course, if I could have passed anything along to my children.
I'd love to talk with someone locally about this. I don't even know where to start or what kind of doctor to call to get checked.
Do any of you have experience with this sort of thing? If you have ideas for how this mama can get tested for the markers of inherited radiation -- if that could be a problem -- please chime in! And tell us what's keeping you up at night with this disaster; I can't stop thinking about my parents' house, that would surely fall in an earthquake and slide into the Nehalem River; wouldn't my 1912 house crumble, too? There's just so much to worry about, you hardly know where to start.