Protecting Yourself from Released Radiation

If you are traveling on a cruise ship that is currently in the North Pacific, and various other surrounding areas, due to a potential nuclear meltdown and already released radioactivity; there is some concern regarding protecting your thyroid and various other cells in your body that can be affected by radiation in the long-term.

How far nuclear radiation can travel from Japan depends on atmospheric conditions and winds. There is a possibility that the distance would be infinite. Nuclear radiation can take many years to dissipate. Prevailing winds determine where the fallout goes. The radiation for Chernobyl was carried round the world for example. The west coast of Canada  & the USA are directly downwind of Japan. Korea, China/Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, etc. are all possible downwind recipients of nuclear radiation in Japan.

“Everything I’ve seen so far suggests there have been nominal amounts of material released. Therefore, the risks are generally low to the population,” Jerrold Bushberg, who directs programs in health physics at the University of California at Davis, said in a telephone interview. 

“There may be more significant risks for emergency workers on site. They are dealing with the occupational exposure, but not for the population at large.”

Fresh explosions Tuesday at the Fukushima plant, 180 miles north of Tokyo, released low levels of radiation, escalating a crisis triggered by last week’s massive earthquake and tsunami. With cooling systems knocked out, the fear is more blasts within the reactors at the complex could eventually cause a major radiation leak.

The levels measured around Tokyo at one point were 40 times above normal but have receded to 10 times. That amounts to roughly the same dose as a chest or abdominal CT scan.

“My instinct tells me it is probably not a health concern for the long term,” said Dr. John Chute, a cancer biology expert at Duke University School of Medical Center. But because radiation is so poorly understood, Chute said taking steps to prevent exposure just makes sense. “If it were me, I’d stay indoors.”

For cancer risks to be elevated, exposure would have to exceed 100 millisieverts in a year, experts say. To be lethal, the blast of radiation would have to top 5,000 millisieverts, delivered in just minutes or hours.

Measurements at the damaged plants are well below lethal at 400 millisieverts. That means unprotected workers may have been exposed to about four times the level deemed to increase the risk for cancer, or 20 times the annual exposure for some nuclear-industry employees and uranium miners.

The best advice experts could give them was to stay indoors, close the windows and avoid breathing bad air — steps very similar to those for handling a smog alert or avoiding influenza. While these steps may sound inconsequential, this and watching food intake from contaminated areas is the best advice. There are many countries that purchase, foodstuffs from Japan. Obviously if it was purchase before the nuclear accidents, there is no concern over exposure to the food. Otherwise, there can be concern in some foodstuffs from Japan, even though monitoring of foodstuffs will be commonplace for the next period of time.

Beware of the vendors of special potions-like the medicine vendors of old. There will undoubtedly be a number of these ‘special pills, liquids, and the like’ that will be sold to ‘eliminate radiation’. Buyer beware! Unless there is scientific evidence for their products effectiveness, don’t waste your money and potentially risk your health.


Cruise with Bruce Radio Show


Last August, I traveled the Mekong River, doctor by day and author by night. I had the pleasure of giving several book readings on our ship, the immaculate MS La Marguerite, and at hotels in Hanoi, Viet Nam and Siem Reap, Cambodia. You can check out my journey right here on this blog by clicking on “Down the Mekong.”

For those who would like to hear more, Bruce Oliver, Cruise with Bruce Radio, has asked me to be on his show, Cruise with Bruce Radio, to discuss the river cruise. Please join us on April 5 at 8:00 pm, EST.

Bruce Oliver, Host
Paul Davis, MD, Guest
April 5 at 8:00 pm, EST

Dr. Paul Davis On World Footprints Travel Radio


Do you sense a storm brewing? Worried about the culpability of the cruise industry?

Tune in to On World Footprints Travel Radio on March 15, 10:00 am, EST, and listen to my discussion on health and safety measures travelers should consider before taking a cruise. As a 10+ year cruiseship doctor, I’ve cared for many patients and will discuss some of my most memorable cases. Ian and Tonya Fitzpatrick, expert travelers, will be my hosts and we’ll also talk about crime onboard and in ports – especially what’s happening in Mexico.

Finally, I’ll have a chance to discuss my book, CRUISESHIP CRIME: A MEDICAL MURDER MYSTERY. In Cruise Ship Crime, Dr. Alan Mayhew is a retired cruise ship doctor who’s about to go on—a cruise! He’s grieving the loss of his wife, and his family feels a cruise is just what he needs to move on—to take his mind off of missing her. Once on board, he meets some of the eclectic folks that make up the passengers and the crew including Tiffany, the beautiful cruise ship director. With her, Dr. Mayhew helps solve a series of on board crimes, including a murder. We’re giving away a free copy — listen in to win!

WORLD FOOTPRINTS TRAVEL RADIO is an Award-Winning broadcast that celebrates responsible travel, culture and heritage through our educational, entertaining and eclectic weekly programs. Travelers learn about voluntourism, travel philanthropy, preserving our cultural heritage and protecting the eco-balance of our planet. World Footprints offers fascinating interviews with celebrities, authors and newsmakers about their transformative travel experiences. We explore unique destinations and travel niches and provide the latest information about legislation impacting travel. Discover the plentiful tips and resources available on our website and create your memorable and meaningful travel adventure. Celebrate your life through travel and fulfill your travel dreams.

March 15, 10:00 am
Ian and Tonya Fitzpatrick, hosts

I also prerecorded a short spot on Cruise Radio last week. Stay tuned to find out when this segment will hit the airwaves.