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Elevated Radiation Claimed At Tokyo 2020 Olympic Venues 164

Posted by samzenpus
from the mutant-games dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A citizens' group in Tokyo claims to have found elevated levels of radioactivity at 39 sporting venues earmarked for the 2020 Olympic Games. Expert and organizers are cautious about the findings but see no problem, as the levels do not pose an immediate threat to human health. From the article: '"It is difficult to have this debate unless we know for sure whether this radiation is from Fukushima or whether it is naturally occurring background radiation," said Pieter Franken, founder of the Japan office of the environmental monitoring organization Safecast."
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Elevated Radiation Claimed At Tokyo 2020 Olympic Venues

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  • by Iconoc (2646179) on Sunday October 13, 2013 @05:19PM (#45116071)
    to allow the glowing comments about the athletes.
  • Lucky for them, 2020 is a few years away. Less lucky for them (and us), another earth-quake, breaking the spent-fuel pools and creating havoc can happen any time...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thesupraman (179040)

      And sadly, for them, they will be exposed to much higher levels of radiation in the aircraft flying to japan - lets hope they all take ships!

      Oh, and for a bonus they can avoid eating bananas, why havnt those radioactive horrors be banned yet? think of the children!

      • That these people will ON TOP of normal exposure to radiation suffer additional exposure?

        Gosh, it is a good thing radiation isn't cumulative... oh wait.

  • by TurtleBay (1942166) on Sunday October 13, 2013 @05:36PM (#45116173)
    '"It is difficult to have this debate unless we know for sure whether this radiation is from Fukushima or whether it is naturally occurring background radiation" -Pieter Franken. I always find this sentiment a little odd. People care too much about if the radiation is measurably above background radiation or what the source of the radiation is. What they should care about is if the radiation is at a dangerous level. We have gotten better at measuring this stuff, so just because we can measure (very small) increases in radiation from Fukushima doesn't mean we should change our lives around it. Anything that is on the same magnitude as background radiation is pretty much safe. For example, you get increased radiation from flying in a plane because the atmosphere is much thinner. Also, natural radiation is much higher near the poles than near the equator, but nobody gets upset about this because it is "natural" like kale.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Slashdot has been posting sketchy articles lately, they're becoming the CNN of the internet. Worthless babble, and it gets worse when you read the linked stories. The one thing posted on the slashdot report is the fact they said "It is difficult to have this debate unless we know for sure whether this radiation is from Fukushima or whether it is naturally occurring background radiation" and then then a commenter

      "

      Using my Safecast Onyx (hi Safecast folks!) I measure ~0.32 uSv/h in Dublin, next to a granite w

    • by icebike (68054)

      First you say:

      What they should care about is if the radiation is at a dangerous level.

      Then you say

      Anything that is on the same magnitude as background radiation is pretty much safe.

      So you've fallen into the same trap that you seem to deplore. Radiation near the background level puts things
      in perspective without having to quote specific numbers.

    • by mikael (484)

      Apparently, scientists in Japan are extremely concerned that Japanese users of Twitter are frequently reporting spontaneous nosebleeds.

      http://www.infowars.com/thousands-of-japanese-report-nosebleeds-in-health-scare/ [infowars.com]

      Though mysteriously, there is no report of bleeding gums or falling out hair.

      • Apparently, scientists in Japan are extremely concerned that Japanese users of Twitter are frequently reporting spontaneous nosebleeds.

        Is it only Twitter causing nosebleeds or are other social media site users presenting similarly?

    • by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday October 13, 2013 @07:13PM (#45116745)

      I always find this sentiment a little odd. People care too much about if the radiation is measurably above background radiation or what the source of the radiation is.

      There's nothing we can do about background radiation. It's coming from the radiation in the rocks and such. The only way to get away from that is move, and even then, you'll end up to other radiation.

      There is no such thing as "safe" radiation, so eliminating all man-made causes is a good thing, even if the levels are lower than background in some areas.

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by i (8254)

        There is no such thing as "safe" radiation, so eliminating all man-made causes is a good thing, even if the levels are lower than background in some areas.

        Source (with proof!) ?

      • There is no such thing as "safe" radiation

        Horse shit. If that were true all life on Earth would have been wiped out long ago.

        • by ArsonSmith (13997)

          Perhaps not safe, but there is no such thing as a harmless amount of radiation. Life has built up a tolerance to a certain amount but even that is only over relatively short periods of time. "Safe" was probably not the right term as it is safe at levels we can heal faster than the damage it is doing.

          • by greg_barton (5551)

            Perhaps not safe, but there is no such thing as a harmless amount of radiation. Life has built up a tolerance to a certain amount

            You instantly contradict yourself in your first sentence. Congrats!

            If we tolerate it, it is by definition harmless. If low level radiation over time was harmful then residents of Denver would be dropping like flies. (Higher background radiation there from the high altitude.)

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          It kills us all, but slow enough we have time to reproduce. It's also "helpful" in that it pushes mutations that lead to evolution. It's required for life, but that doesn't mean it isn't harmful.
          • by greg_barton (5551)

            Sorry, it does not kill us all. You'll have to provide some proof for that extraordinary claim.

            • by AK Marc (707885)
              My proof is that there is nobody alive older than 200.
              • by greg_barton (5551)

                Telomeres.

                • by AK Marc (707885)
                  Evolutionarily in place to help defend against negative radiation damage. Indirect, but still caused by radiation.
                  • by greg_barton (5551)

                    No, telomeres are there to guard against copying errors on the ends of chromosomes. They do nothing, repeat nothing, to repair internal DNA alterations.

              • by fatphil (181876)
                GIven that your argument does not mention radiation, it is as much an argument that kettles are harmful. Or puppies. Or the scientific method. Or anything.
        • by wvmarle (1070040)

          Driving a car is also dangerous, yet humanity seems to prosper, in part thanks to these very cars.

      • by TheLink (130905) on Monday October 14, 2013 @03:29AM (#45119119) Journal

        There is no such thing as "safe" radiation, so eliminating all man-made causes is a good thing, even if the levels are lower than background in some areas.

        Citation please? I give you mine:
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2663584/ [nih.gov]

        In many places where the background radiation is higher but still at "safe" levels it doesn't seem to be killing people faster. In fact in some places they seem to live longer! Yes it could be due to other factors (diet, lifestyle), but it just shows that at those levels the radiation no longer significantly reduces your lifespan.

      • We have a distinct lack of knowledge of what is hapenning at low radiation level. The precautionary principle and some funky linear regression made us say there is no "safe radiation level", but this is not a fact. There are quite a lot of indication that the linear model is false. Look up Radiation hormesis. The most well known case indicating that the linear model is wrong, were steel bar used in building which were contaminated with radioactive cobalt, people lived 10 years irradiated with a factor of ma
      • by khallow (566160)

        There is no such thing as "safe" radiation

        Even if we grant the very dubious claim that any level of radiation causes net harm to the human body, "safe" doesn't mean the complete elimination of a harmful thing, but rather the reduction or mitigation of the risk to a level which is acceptable.

        so eliminating all man-made causes is a good thing

        Because man-made radiation never comes with a benefit that needs to be considered. You can also eliminate a number of "background" natural radiation by living in a submarine. Maybe to be "safe", you should go the Captain Nemo route.

        For some reason, I thought

        • by AK Marc (707885)

          "safe" doesn't mean the complete elimination of a harmful thing, but rather the reduction or mitigation of the risk to a level which is acceptable.

          So Fukushima is "safe" as everyone in the vicinity has "accepted" the risk of being there?

          The car analogy is "can you ever be 'safe' on the road?" You can be safer than some arbitrary probability, but you'll never be as safe as you are in your house. So it's *never* 'safe', but also can be low enough risk to call 'safe' (in which case, 'safe' becomes a subjective word with little useful meaning).

          For some reason, I thought you understood both risk management and the perils of measuring stuff at or below the threshold of detection.

          Because I do. Risk management is about identifying and quantifying risk. "good enough" is very very poor risk

          • by khallow (566160)

            The car analogy is "can you ever be 'safe' on the road?" You can be safer than some arbitrary probability, but you'll never be as safe as you are in your house. So it's *never* 'safe', but also can be low enough risk to call 'safe' (in which case, 'safe' becomes a subjective word with little useful meaning).

            So you don't understand the meaning of "safe". "Safe" doesn't mean that there is no risk, but rather that you understand the level of risk and accept it. Further, that you've taken sensible measures to reduce risks that you don't need to have. Dangerous activities can be safe because the participants understand the unusually high level of risk, accept it, and have taken sensible measures to reduce the risks of the activity.

            Because I do. Risk management is about identifying and quantifying risk.

            You didn't in your first post when you claimed "There is no such thing as "safe" radi

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      The key difference between say flying or eating a banana and the material released from Fukushima is that it does not accumulate in your body. When flying the radiation mostly bounces off your skin, or hits your organs once and then is dissipated or passes on through. Similarly when you eat a banana your body maintains a fairly constant level of potassium, so you are not increasing your long term exposure.

      Fukushima released a lot of stuff, most notably caesium. It accumulates on the ground, in the water, in

  • Why do we care whether its from background or not? The only thing that matters is whether it will cause significant harm to anyone. If you can't tell the difference, it's probably entirely irrelevant in terms of health effects.

              Brett

    • by djupedal (584558)
      'anyone'?

      Maybe not if your history shows low exposure in general. Maybe if you exceeded safe levels/limits years ago (that would be me). Now, if you can be more specific, and avoid general 'anyone', you might get an answer you can use. In the mean time, and just to be safe, all low-information questioners are advised to get back on the other side of the Police tape and we'll let you know if anything changes.
  • New proposal. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204)

    All stories about radiation not intended for a specialist audience should measure radiation levels in 'bananas/year.'

    • by Molochi (555357)

      Yeah as BPY or as a relative value to exposure in Denver per Year.

      • Re:New proposal. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by nickersonm (1646933) on Sunday October 13, 2013 @07:38PM (#45116887)
        The highest reading mentioned in the article, 0.484uS/hr, is approximately 1.07 Denver, or 0.96 Boulder. Exact values are hard to find, but it seems Denver is around 4mSv/year, and Boulder is ~4.5mSv/year, which is about .45 and .5 uSv/hr.
        • by NoKaOi (1415755)

          The highest reading mentioned in the article, 0.484uS/hr, is approximately 1.07 Denver, or 0.96 Boulder. Exact values are hard to find, but it seems Denver is around 4mSv/year, and Boulder is ~4.5mSv/year, which is about .45 and .5 uSv/hr.

          Ah, but the important question is: What type of radiation is it? Are we talking about Scary Radiation, or natural, USDA Certified Organic radiation (which has no chemicals!)? Since the .484uSv/hr is in Japan, which is the same country Fukushima is in, then it is 100% Scary Radiation. The radiation in Denver and Boulder is natural, certified organic radiation, so it has 0 uS/hr of Scary Radiation by comparison. Also keep in mind that most of the athletes probably have cell phones, which also emit signifi

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          The current legal limit in Japan is 1mSv of ionizing radiation. This is not the same as background radiation and affects the body in a different way (because it tends to accumulate inside you). It appears to already be affecting children living near Fukushima.

          It seems that the Japanese government has a better understanding of radiation than you do, which considering how much they cocked-up management at Fukushima Daiichi is saying something.

          • Since Sieverts are a measure of ionizing radiation, then obviously the background levels I mentioned are ionizing radiation.

            Certainly the physical distribution of the radiation sources are important, but I didn't think that was worth mentioning in a simple summary comparison. Sieverts already attempt to correct for biological effects, but yes, if the radiation source is something that can internally bioaccumulate, it will have more complex and serious effects. That is beyond a simple single-measurement
  • by DarkOx (621550) on Sunday October 13, 2013 @05:51PM (#45116285) Journal

    It is difficult to have this debate unless we know for sure whether this radiation is from Fukushima or whether it is naturally occurring background radiation

    For anyone considering going then you can't know, and at this point it matters little what anyone says. There have been so many denials, and incorrect information put out by TEPCO and the government there how could anyone trust anything they say now?

  • by evilsofa (947078) on Sunday October 13, 2013 @06:02PM (#45116361)
    This appears to be the letter and the data that started all this:

    http://olympicsokuteikai.web.fc2.com/encontents.html [fc2.com]

    Perhaps the most crucial part of the letter is this:

    "Just before the Fukushima power plant accident, the mean value of the atmospheric radiation in Tokyo was estimated as 0.04 Sv/h, and radioactive Cesium was almost non-existent. Therefore, atmospheric radiation value above this level can be regarded as the effect of the nuclear accident."

    Is that a valid assumption?
    • by Goaway (82658)

      Not really. You'd need at least a measurement at each site before and after, as background levels will vary from place to place. And even so, they also vary with time.

      And if your readings are so low that you have to subtract out the natural background to see them, they are pretty much harmless anyway.

  • by Okian Warrior (537106) on Sunday October 13, 2013 @06:15PM (#45116417) Homepage Journal

    Once again, possibility is not the same as probability.

    Yes, it's possible that the elevated radiation levels will cause problems. Now, what's the risk, and what's the tradeoff between mitigating *that* risk versus mitigating some *other* risk?

    Security is a tradeoff, always. The value of something is not the face value, but the face value times the probability of occurrence.

    So if the probability of damage (say, the number of people getting cancer from going to the event) times the value of damage (taken informally as $1 million per human life lost, but depends on estimates and philosophy) is higher than other foreseeable risks, then we should address the problem.

    Risks shouldn't be ignored, just compared to other risks. If the utility losses for other risks are higher, then we should spend our finite resources on the other risks first.

    How much risk utility is embodied in this problem compared to, say dying from accidentally swallowing (and choking on) a bee?

    ...but journalism must sell news. I suppose someone swallowing something wouldn't be very interesting.

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      Once again, possibility is not the same as probability.

      Dude, they found Cesium-137 where none was previously known to exist.
      AFAIK it doesn't naturally occur and we only get it as a byproduct of nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons

      Risks shouldn't be ignored, just compared to other risks. If the utility losses for other risks are higher, then we should spend our finite resources on the other risks first.

      How much risk utility is embodied in this problem compared to, say dying from accidentally swallowing (and choking on) a bee?

      One of my friends got stung, by a bee, on his tongue.
      He was lucky enough to get medical attention before the swelling choked him to death.
      Even luckier, he got that medical attention before the doctors would have had to cut a hole in throat.

      It's almost like you've never heard the expression "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cu

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      How much risk utility is embodied in this problem compared to, say dying from accidentally swallowing (and choking on) a bee?

      The key difference is that swallowing a bee is an unfortunate accident that probably couldn't be foreseen, where as getting cancer from the entirely preventable Fukushima disaster, a facility which was designed to generate profit for a private company on the understanding that they would run it safely, is clearly a case of negligence.

      In any case, even if you only value a human life at $1m you can't really expect the people affected or their families to accept that monetary assessment, can you? They are clea

      • by doom (14564)

        The key difference is that swallowing a bee is an unfortunate accident that probably couldn't be foreseen, where as getting cancer from the entirely preventable Fukushima disaster, a facility which was designed to generate profit for a private company on the understanding that they would run it safely, is clearly a case of negligence.

        Actually, while it's entirely possible the designers and operators are guilty of some form of negligence, it is not clear that it is so. You might, for example, argue that

  • Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Sunday October 13, 2013 @06:24PM (#45116471) Homepage

    '"It is difficult to have this debate unless we know for sure whether this radiation is from Fukushima or whether it is naturally occurring background radiation,"

    So as long as it's natural it doesn't matter how strong it is but if it's from the plant then any amount is too much? I wasn't aware that natural radiation was safer than man-made radiation, when did that memo come out?

    • by ArsonSmith (13997)

      I specialize in holistic radiation treatment. Good naturally occurring radiation is much better for you than anything man made.

  • Saw a documentary once [imdb.com] about this irradiated Japanese Olympic sight. Don't worry about extra drug testing, but DO bring along your targetting device for your space laser.

  • If I remember by Navy nuclear training correctly, the half life of Cobalt 60 is 5.27 years and it is one of the largest sources of radiation from fission decay products. It's a half off sale, take those measurements and lower them by 50% folks!
  • by khr (708262) <kevinrubin@gmail.com> on Monday October 14, 2013 @08:16AM (#45120281) Homepage

    Well, that's the Olympic motto, "Faster, Higher, Stronger" so I'm sure a bit of a radiation boost can help.

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe

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