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Explosions Continue to Rock Japanese Nuclear Complex
Date:3/15/2011

n or Three Mile Island, far more radioactive material was released, and it was a more dangerous type than at Three Mile Island. The radiation remained in soil and worked its way into vegetation in the Ukraine, contaminating milk and meat for decades. Thousands of children developed thyroid cancer from radiation exposure, the news service said.

"Right now it [the crisis in Japan] is worse than Three Mile Island," said Olander. He believes that even the heavily elevated levels of radiation around the four reactors are "not a health hazard." But without knowing specific dose levels, he said it was hard to make judgments, the AP said.

More than 200,000 people had been evacuated from the area around the Japanese reactors as a precaution.

How far radioactivity might spread would depend on weather conditions such as wind and rain, Williams said. These factors also need to be taken into account when deciding how far to move people from potential danger.

"The best protection from radiation is to get inside," she said. "Get something between you and the radiation."

Friday's earthquake and tsunami that pounded Japan's northeastern coast has left at least 2,800 people dead and hundreds missing, according to government officials. But police in one of the hardest-hit areas said the death toll there alone could eventually top 10,000, the AP reported.

More information

For more on the health risks of nuclear radiation, visit the University of Pittsburgh.

SOURCES: Jacqueline Williams, Ph.D., research professor, Radiation Oncology M&D, University of Rochester, N.Y.; Associated Press; The New York Times


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