Survivors of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan are worried
about the possible health risks due to the damaged nuclear reactors. Officials
have stated that the health risks are quite low as so far very small amount
of radioactivity has been released into the environment.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has rated the danger
at 4 on a 7-point scale. Though officials have ordered people within 12miles of
the Daiichi plant to evacuate the area, about 160 people have been exposed to
radiation, though it is still unclear whether any of the cases had reached
dangerous levels. Due to the prevailing wind direction the contamination is
expected to be blown in the sea.
Radiation damages DNA and can kill cells. DNA damage can
cause cancers, like leukemia and cancer of the kidneys and liver. Also depending
on the type of radiation that is released, it can linger in the environment for
thousands of years. The initial symptoms of radiation poisoning are nausea and vomiting,
while exposure to higher radiation can cause diarrhea, headaches and fever.
Depending on the level of exposure people might develop symptoms 1-4weeks
later, like hair loss, vomiting, disorientation, fatigue, dizziness, infection,
poor wound healing and low blood pressure.