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Thread: Minimizing the Threat of Chronic Internal Radiation

  1. #1

    Default Minimizing the Threat of Chronic Internal Radiation

    Inspired by Stone Harbor, I wrote comprehensive article for Michael C. Ruppert's Collapse Net, which is unfortunately closed to non-member. It came out quite long. I'll post Part I here and the rest in the comments. The references are in Part IV.

    A Review of Various Ideas, by Patricia Ann Ormsby

    Part I A Massive Widespread Problem

    As we hear more reports of produce contaminated in the aftermath of Fukushima, many people are wondering how they can protect themselves. Not only are Japan’s citizens affected, but people around the world are finding contamination or concerned about it, most notably of milk.

    In the early aftermath of the melt-throughs, milk was reported contaminated in the region around the Fukushima Daiichi reactors, together with spinach (Japan Today, March 19) and Tokyo’s drinking water was found contaminated with radioactive iodine. Later, these were joined by shiitake mushrooms (Asahi Shinbun, April 13)1, tea leaves grown more than 300 km away and milk on the island of Hawaii2, which all had high levels of radioactive cesium and/or iodine, some exceeding government standards by large factors. Then beef from cows that had eaten straw presumed safe was discovered to be contaminated after some of it had been widely distributed and consumed.

    Since then reports of contamination have been coming in from all over the world, some of which may have been related to Fukushima while others may have been present for a while but only discovered when people became aware of the possibility and started checking. Fruits and fertilizers have since joined the list in Japan, which keeps growing. With radionuclides transported by wind and water, and also by commerce and international trade, this is an issue global in its scope.

    The author ordered a Geiger counter in April, with shipment scheduled for June. I’ve now been told to expect it in December. Perhaps higher priority customers appeared in the meantime and the manufacturer is overwhelmed. There have also been reports of fraud including misrepresentation of equipment. Furthermore, a Geiger counter, I’m told, would be insufficient for detecting levels of radioactivity that pose a danger when taken internally, though they are useful for assessing possible contamination of the local environment, after which other measures can be considered.

    Any enlightened community should pool its resources and purchase the relevant equipment as soon as they can, because otherwise in these times there is no way of being sure you are not receiving significant doses of radiation. Government entities are often under pressure to stay silent. In one recently reported example, Texas authorities conspired to cover up radioactivity exceeding standards in drinking water arising from radium in pipes.3 Theft of property abandoned due to radioactivity occurs; the spoils reach international markets. Improperly disposed medical equipment or instruments containing radioactive substances are another source. A few years ago, the Japanese media warned of radioactive contamination of some metallic goods produced in China which arose from improper metal recycling.

    In hard economic times, some unscrupulous people will try diluting contamination to “acceptable” levels, which may themselves be elevated for political reasons or in response to an emergency. We are under an assault that will only increase as funding for infrastructure dwindles, including that serving nuclear reactors, along with the ability to fund alternative energy which would make it easier to decrease our dependence on nuclear energy, while competition for fossil fuels grows more intense and corrupt regimes become ever more desperate to maintain their power with no heed to the fate of their citizenry. When I speak of economic “collapse” herein, this is in part what I am referring to. More emphasis is likely to be placed on nuclear energy, but less on safety, and when accidents occur, more people will be forced to fend for themselves with little or no governmental assistance. Awareness of the possibility of fallout or other contamination, testing, local sourcing of food and other commodities, and remediative measures will be critical to minimizing one’s risk.

    Chernobyl has already provided us an example of what happens when people must deal with radioactivity under conditions of economic collapse. Japan’s public broadcasting company, NHK, recently aired a documentary4 on the effects of radioactive contamination. In it, it was noted that radioactivity persisted most strongly in forests near Chernobyl, where it cycled from leaf to humus to leaf, not being sequestered in the soil or washed away. It ranged from 150% to twice as high as the levels in cultivated fields, which themselves were quite high. To the natives of boreal regions, wild mushrooms have traditionally been an important winter food resource, so though they have been told mushrooms are particularly prone to radioactivity and that those in the forests contain dangerous levels of it, they lack the money to buy safely grown mushrooms. They rely on the false rumor that if the mushrooms are boiled and the water discarded it gets rid of most of the problem. Given their circumstances, they have no other choice but to try that.

    The root vegetables these people were growing were also highly contaminated. A pig eating the same foods as these people was slaughtered at eight months and its organs analyzed. The concentration of radiolytes was highest in the kidneys, heart, stomach and thyroid, in that order, with levels I have been unable to confirm. One must bear in mind that the people living there have been accumulating radiolytes much longer and it is impacting their health. The documentary said that research had found effects including mutations in mice, and that beta-radiation is known to destroy mitochondria, resulting in metabolic disorders. With a high degree of concentration of cesium in muscle tissue, the heart is also affected, with signs of increased rates of aging throughout the body. Small repetitive doses are very dangerous, resulting in brain damage, lung disease or other illnesses. Birth defects are the most tragic outcome.5

    To minimize exposure and accumulation, it would be better to arm oneself with the best knowledge available beforehand, rather than relying on rumors. Unfortunately, not much is available. The NHK documentary reported that basically there has been little research on internal exposure to radioactivity. After World War II, it was the horrific effects of external exposure that got everyone’s attention, and the problematic subject of internal exposure got swept under the carpet, despite repeated occurrences, including contamination of tuna from Pacific nuclear bomb testing. The public’s attention wanes and they lose interest in effects which may take years or even generations to manifest, while there are so many other immediately dangerous contaminants to worry about in the modern environment.

    Moreover, many in the public complain that what research exists is being suppressed as stakeholders seek to avoid having to take responsibility. In any case the resources do not exist to fully compensate the victims, so political leaders resort to false assurances. The information I have been able to find is poorly developed and sometimes contradictory, but I’ll attempt to give an overview in the hope that it will be at least a start. Whatever feedback I receive I will share in the comments in the hope of helping develop a body of relevant knowledge in this complex, vital field.
    Last edited by PatOrmsby; 08-29-11 at 08:33 AM. Reason: More explanation of my rationale

  2. #2

    Default Re: Minimizing the Threat of Chronic Internal Radiation

    Part II Radionuclides

    Part of the complexity of this subject, which is too often oversimplified (e.g., reassurances that fallout is “no worse than a chest x-ray”), is that there are literally hundreds of radioactive isotopes produced by nuclear reactions, each with its own unique chemical, physical and radiological properties. Moreover, this is further complicated by different forces at work in different environments such as marine versus freshwater or soil or air. Some radionuclides are more notable troublemakers than others, however. The degree of danger from any particular radionuclide depends on many factors, including its prevalence in the yield, its concentration, the ease with which it spreads in the environment, its persistence (i.e., half-life), the degree to which it participates in biological processes (whether it accumulates or is easily eliminated), the type of radiation it emits and the rate at which that radiation is issued. A radioisotope with a very short half-life will be more dangerous over the short term, decaying rapidly while giving rise to an acute exposure, which is more likely to be external. The danger from these decreases rapidly with time and distance from the source. Once criticality ceases, they are no longer produced (except for daughter species, whose breakdown could be considered part of the decay of the parent species) and rapidly disappear, so they are not the concern of this article.

    Longer-lived ones emit radiation more slowly and are therefore usually not as big a problem unless they are sufficiently concentrated. This is why nuclear waste storage is such an important long-term issue. It will be an enormous burden in the future., when in all likelihood we will be far less capable of handling it than we are even now.

    It is the radionuclides with intermediate half-lives, from days to decades, which seem to cause the biggest problems, and among them, iodine-131, cesium-134 and -137 and strontium-90 are among the worst offenders, because they are utilized readily in biological processes, where they can accumulate and cause persistent damage. The literature at hand also mentions radioisotopes of technetium, uranium, plutonium and americium in connection with internal radiation, so I’ll address those as well.


    Comprising about 3% of the products of nuclear fission by weight, iodine-131 is initially the biggest concern to people downwind of a nuclear accident. With its short half-life, eight days, it releases copious beta and gamma radiation over a short time period. Worst of all, because iodine plays an essential biological role and because so many people are deficient in it, airborne radio-iodine enters the body readily and concentrates heavily in the thyroid, resulting in acute internal exposures and the most unambiguous effects of all the various internal radioactive contaminants. Victims survive but many are left without a functioning thyroid and must rely on artificial thyroid hormones the rest of their lives. In a collapse scenario where medical care may be spotty and pharmaceutical products nonexistent, that is a cruel fate.

    To minimize one’s risk of this, one must prepare for it beforehand. First, it is essential to maintain optimal levels of iodine through proper dietary intake. The Soviet Union provided its citizens canned kelp. Sea vegetables, including kelp, are eaten on a daily basis in Japan, where the average citizen consumes 5~7.5 g kelp per day. In addition to providing iodine to support thyroid function, it is said to be nutritive, anti-bacterial and hypotensive, and to increase resistance to fevers and infections. The algin fiber it contains is said to prevent the absorption of other radioactive materials, including strontium-90 by forming insoluble salts, which are excreted.6 Iodine helps remove toxic chemicals such as fluoride, bromide, lead, aluminum and mercury, and biological toxins. It suppresses autoimmunity, strengthens the T-cell adaptive immune system and protects against abnormal bacterial growth in the stomach. However, it must not be taken in excess. The recommended daily intake is 12.5 mg.7 Prolonged excesses can cause thyroid dysfunction as well. What constitutes an excess seems to be a point of controversy, but the average consumption levels of the Japanese would be below that.

    The potassium iodide tablets everyone was so eager to obtain last March should be kept stored away safely and brought out only when serious fallout containing radio-iodine is expected to hit in the immediate aftermath of a nuclear explosion or accident. If you are unable to obtain it in an emergency, topical application of Betadine (povidone-iodine solution) has been reported to have a similar effect of flooding the system with high levels of stable iodine isotopes, minimizing uptake of radioactive ones. Eight milliliters of 2% iodine solution applied to the skin (never drink!) is the adult dose.8 This must be a short-term emergency measure only. A better strategy would be to leave any area with such high levels of radioactivity.

    The Japanese also gargle frequently with a povidone-iodine solution called Isodine to ward off colds, but I don’t know to what degree this affects their iodine levels.

    Dried kelp stores nicely and can be relied on during the time it takes for radioactive iodine in the environment to decay to harmless levels. As Arnold Gundersen noted in his video where he mentioned the possibility of intermittent criticality ongoing at Fukushima’s Reactor 3, once criticality ceases, I-131 stops being produced and attenuates quickly.9 For a month or two after a major contamination event, there is a possibility of radioactive iodine contaminating milk, and later, radioactive cesium and strontium. Iodine-131 concentrates by a factor of about a thousand in milk10 and cesium contamination is a lasting concern, so you will have to affirm the safety of milk before it can be consumed. Milk from sheep in Austria was noted to assimilate cesium-137 especially rapidly after Chernobyl, resulting in high mortality of lambs the following spring and malformation of newborn lambs.11

    Another thing you will want in an emergency such as a war or disaster is a hand-crank- rechargeable AM radio. People living in northern Fukushima/southern Miyagi reported that for the first full week, they heard nothing at all about the disasters at Fukushima Daiichi.

    To purify water, reverse osmosis works well for most beta-particle emitters, but not for gases like iodine. Activated carbon works well to trap iodine, but it reaches load capacity. Ion exchange is said to be particularly good for removing cesium-137. If water contamination is a concern, the best course would be to combine all three.12


    Cesium-134, with a half-life of about two years, is generated in very small amounts, but is similar in its effects to cesium-137, which is quite abundant (6.3% of yield) and has a half-life of 30 years, guaranteeing long-term trouble. Like iodine-131, cesium-137 emits beta and gamma radiation as it decays.

    In beta radiation, the nucleus emits an electron, with localized effects; gamma radiation is high-energy electromagnetic radiation, with penetrating effects.

    Chemically, cesium is most similar to potassium, which is above it on the periodic table: More accurately, it is most similar to rubidium, but what do we know about rubidium in biology? To the degree that potassium is similar to sodium in its utilization, we can expect cesium also to be similar. They are all “alkali metals,” forming monovalent cations and highly water-soluble salts, but plants tend to concentrate potassium rather than sodium. They are not identical, but they “rhyme.” The differences can be utilized in separating radioactive cesium from potassium in remediation efforts.

    When fallout first occurs, it settles onto plants. Therefore, leafy items such as spinach along with grass that livestock consume, become highly contaminated in the early days after a nuclear event. If you know when fallout is likely, you can cover crops with a tarp and reduce their contamination and the subsequent contamination of the soil.

    Arnold Gundersen repeatedly mentions washing produce before eating it, and that should be made a habit. Washing with baking soda has been recommended to help leach out radionuclides. Some amount of the cesium (and strontium), though, will be absorbed into the leaves, so if you know something has been contaminated, you would be better off avoiding it.

    Once the contaminants reach the soil, they start to be taken up by plant roots. I tried to determine which plants are more susceptible to this, and found conflicting and confusing information. Mushrooms are clearly among the most susceptible, with some species said to concentrate it by a factor of 10,000. Even mushrooms grown indoors have been found contaminated.13,14,15 Cesium has also been found to concentrate in the skins of tubers, but has also been found at high levels in peeled carrots and potatoes and inner leaves of cabbage in Japan. It is said to distribute throughout plants quickly. In addition to absorbing it through the leaves, spinach takes it up from the soil. It has been found contaminating rinsed plums, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and beans. Tomatoes and sunflowers pick up so much of it they have been suggested as candidates for soil remediation, with the crop carefully disposed of somehow. Winter corn, wheat, millet and rye are said to resist uptake, but I wonder if this and conflicting information I’ve heard about other plants is due to the type of soil and tilling methods being used.

    Cesium seems to be taken up readily wherever potassium is taken up in large amounts, but biological systems appear to prefer to take up potassium selectively when it is abundant enough, and thus exclude cesium. Therefore, one suggested strategy against cesium-137 is to add potassium fertilizer to fields and another strategy is to eat items with lots of potassium, so as to reduce cesium uptake and eliminate more quickly any cesium taken in. These strategies may help in the short term, but imbalances are likely to be a problem if you rely on them too much. Furthermore, since cesium accumulates where potassium does, sources of potassium might turn out to be highly contaminated, as they discovered in Japan when forest litter from Tochigi Prefecture, 100 km or more away from the reactors was used in commercially sold fertilizers, which had to be recalled.16

    For severe cases of internal radiation, Prussian blue has been mentioned as a remedy that can help the body excrete cesium. It was one of the earliest developed synthetic compounds, the traditional “blue” in blueprints, and is useful as an antidote to cesium and thallium poisoning. It is insoluble, but forms colloids which incorporate mono-cations in the intestine and indirectly from the blood. It is non-toxic and up to 10 g/day can be taken safely, but aside from it being a dark blue dye, there are probably other reasons for not relying on it long-term. In speeding up elimination it is said to reduce exposure by about two-thirds.17 It was fed to livestock near Chernobyl to help reduce cesium in the meat and milk. It would be good to have in one’s arsenal along with potassium iodide for emergencies.

    Bananas and avocados have been mentioned as high-potassium foods that could also help eliminate cesium, which is excreted rapidly in the urine. Bananas from the tropics are probably relatively uncontaminated at this time. You can obtain cheap bunches as they go brown. They dry easily in a solar dehydrator (easy to produce with some kind of framework and a large plastic bag) and with their high sugar content, they can be stored indefinitely in a sealed bag.

    Soil remediation appears the most promising strategy with regard to both cesium and strontium. There are several methods, each with its merits and drawbacks which I’ll describe below, but the most promising over the short-to-medium term is sequestration within the soil so that these radioisotopes are not taken up into crops.


    Strontium-90 has a half-life of 28.8 years, almost as long as that of cesium-137. It undergoes beta decay, as does its short-lived break-down product, yttrium-90, which also emits beta rays. It is also highly abundant, comprising 4.5% of the yield. Most similar chemically to calcium, it is taken up in the bones, where it can lead to bone cancer. It is also cationic, so it responds to strategies similar to those for cesium.

    Adding calcium in the form of lime to the soil is said to reduce strontium uptake. Presumably, increasing calcium in the diet would help avoid intake and accumulation, but I’ve not seen that mentioned. It frequently enters the environment through medical and industrial uses and nuclear accidents. Strontium-89, with a half-life of about 50 days, was found in Hawaiian milk this last spring, associated with Fukushima.


    Technetium has no stable isotopes and is practically non-existent in nature. Its meta-stable state, technicium-99m, is used in radiography as a gamma ray emitter, but has a half-life of only six hours. Tc-99 has a half life of 4.2 million years and is found in such tiny amounts in nature, as a decay product of uranium, that it is considered an entirely man-made element. It is produced from spent fuel rods from the fission of U-233 and Pu-239. A metallic element, it has properties similar to manganese, a trace element which is a co-factor in enzymes, but technetium is more chemically inert, resembling rhenium. It does not readily form cations the way manganese does. It plays no biological role in the body and is normally not found there. It is not toxic, but spreads more readily than many radionuclides, therefore it is mentioned as a source of radioactivity. The BORIS project in Europe, studying the actions of radionuclides in soil, reported that when they added a pertechnate solution to a clay soil under various conditions, the technetium bound quickly, with a minor fraction detectable the first day and in most cases completely undetectable in three weeks. No electrolyte solution could extract it.18 It would be no more than a minor concern unless present in large amounts.


    Because it occurs in nature, where it is weakly radioactive, uranium has been studied in more detail than most other radioactive elements. It and its daughter species were found to accumulate in milk and beef, especially in the kidney and liver,19 and in the green parts of watermelon and zucchini at twice the levels in fruits.20 It produces an alpha particle (similar to beta, with localized effects, but with emission of a positively charged particle) when it decays, with very localized effects. Living above uranium deposits increases the chance of radon exposure. Uranium can also be concentrated in slag. If ingested, most is excreted, but if it enters the lungs it is more of a problem. It accumulates in bones as well as the kidneys, liver and reproductive organs. In addition to being weakly radioactive, it is toxic. The half-life of U-238 is 4.47 billion years and that of U-235 is 704 million years.


    The most stable isotope of plutonium, Pu-244, has a half-life of 80 million years. It occurs in nature in trace quantities in association with uranium. Pu-238, with a half-life of 88 years, emits alpha particles. In addition to being radioactive, plutonium is extremely toxic. A few mg/kg is lethal in animals. It has been found more dangerous than radium in distributing to bone marrow, where it causes cancer, and more dangerous to breathe than ingest, where only 0.04% is absorbed, but that which enters the body is practically permanent. It raises the risk of lung cancer. It slowly passes through cell membranes and is incorporated into bone slowly. It is a real curse.

    Its heaviness may limit its spread somewhat, but some travels as aerosols. Aside from staying away from the sites of nuclear accidents, there is not a lot you can do about it, except take steps to improve your health in general. Detection of plutonium near the Fukushima complex was one of the first signs that meltdowns had occurred, and it can be expected to be released wherever other meltdowns occur.

    It is said to have a “metallic taste.”21

    Plutonium, like strontium and cesium, is also said to bind to soil, decreasing its bioavailability under certain circumstances.22 This may be of help in dealing with low levels of contamination.


    Not synthesized in a reactor unless the fuel has been enriched with plutonium-239, americium is highly radioactive. Am-241 and Am-243 have half lives of 232 and 7370 years, respectively. They are produced in tiny quantities, but reputed to be quite dangerous. Most americium isotopes themselves only emit alpha-particles, but some of their daughter products emit gamma rays or neutrons. If ingested, most is excreted, but part goes to the bones and liver, where it persists for decades, and the gonads where it is permanent, and it promotes cancer in all of these tissues. Uptake to the liver increases with age.

    Concerns were raised because americium was detected in Fukushima debris on March 28, 2011, together with plutonium and curium.23 As with uranium and plutonium, the best countermeasure would be to avoid approaching areas with known contamination. Wikipedia mentioned the possibility of using microorganisms to help separate and sequester americium, but I don’t know how practical that would be, especially post-collapse.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Minimizing the Threat of Chronic Internal Radiation

    Part III Soil Remediation

    Aside from the use of microorganisms in connection with americium contamination, I’ve seen information on four techniques which seem to have some merit: application of boron to block radiation, removal of topsoil, absorption of radionuclides into crops which are then disposed of, and creation of conditions within the soil that cause radionuclides to bind with soil particles and not be taken up in significant quantities in crops.

    Boron remediation

    Boron, in the form of borax, was used in large amounts at Chernobyl and Fukushima, where it was dumped on the fuel rods and in the surrounding water. It has the ability to absorb neutrons, changing from B-10 to B-11, thus helping defuse further criticality and also protecting the environment from this most dangerous form of radiation. Neutron radiation has mass and therefore kinetic energy, so it is a severe hazard, said to be ten times as effective at causing cancer than beta radiation. There are other barriers to neutron radiation, including water, paraffin and concrete.24

    Boron, however, does not absorb other types of ionizing radiation (alpha and beta particles, gamma rays), so while offering an important form of protection, it is not complete. It was fed to cows with contaminated milk (iodine, cesium and strontium radionuclides) in large dairy farms in Hawaii, where radioactivity hit 400~2400 times recognized safe levels in late March,25 but as these contaminants are beta and gamma emitters, I wonder if this wasn’t just grasping at straws. There have been suggestions that boron could help workers cope with severely contaminated environments.

    Most of us are deficient in boron, so adding a small amount to soil may a good idea regardless of whether or not it will protect us from whatever neutron radiation we may encounter. It is easily leached from soil, and often deficient in areas with higher rainfall—in the US, that includes everything east of the Mississippi River and the Pacific Northwest south to San Francisco and east to Montana. Viable mines only exist in Turkey and the Mojave Desert. It is a crucial trace element used in calcium metabolism. Plants suffer when it is deficient, with terminal buds dying.

    In the human body, boron is easily displaced by aluminum. When present, it improves retention of calcium and magnesium (Therefore, also possibly strontium-90? In that case it would be counterproductive to consume it when strontium contamination is an issue.), and elevates serum concentration of testosterone. Its deficiency can result in osteoporosis, arthritis, fatigue, decreased short-term memory and impaired brain function. Non-toxic to humans except in large amounts, boric acid is our most effective ant control.26

    But too much boron is also bad for crops and human health.

    The safe level of boron in agricultural soils is one part Boron to 1000 parts exchangeable calcium. If your soil tests show 3000 lbs/acre calcium, it can handle 3 lbs/acre elemental boron, which is 30 lbs/acre borax (sodium borate, aka 20 Mule Team Borax). This is added to the soil, not as a foliar spray. If you do not know the calcium content of your soil, do not exceed 10 lbs Borax/acre, or 100 g/100 m2.27

    Top Soil Removal

    Where contamination is severe, this may be necessary as a first step toward recovery. It is impractical over large areas, however. Where are you going to put all that toxic dirt? Furthermore, it is prohibitively expensive. Ensley (2000) reported that it cost $1,600 per cubic meter to excavate, transport, package and safely store soil contaminated with uranium.28 Then, building the soil back up again takes years. If you find yourself in a hotspot, it would be better to leave it if that is at all possible.

    Given what we have learned from Fukushima, it is sheer idiocy to continue relying on nuclear energy. People are already rationalizing it like before, but anyone who thinks their country won’t make mistakes like the “stupid Soviets” or the “careless Japanese” is deluding himself. Let’s face it, Japan may as well have been invaded by a conquering army that is occupying one of its most fertile rice-bearing regions while demanding tribute in the form of taxes and the lives of children in the surrounding areas.


    Removing radionuclides by growing crops with heavy uptake and sequestering the harvest somewhere safe is a more promising solution for heavily contaminated areas, and holds the possibility of shrinking the recovery time from centuries to decades. The key is to dispose of plants where they will not recontaminate soil.

    In less heavily polluted areas, it might be a useful first step prior to taking measures to bind the contaminants to the soil, preventing uptake in subsequent crops (technique described below). Near Chernobyl, fields have been planted with sunflowers, which are known to take up lots of cesium, as a means of reclaiming lost farmland. Tomatoes also have a good reputation in this regard, and so do Brassica species such as mustard, along with Amaranthus species, and cockscomb. The best plant appears to be red-root pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus), a prolific weed suited to a great number of environments. It is said, however, that it would take 40 or more croppings of this to recover fields with moderate contamination.29 After that, nutrient depletion would be a problem that would need to be remedied with uncontaminated inputs. If contamination is widespread, this could be difficult.

    Moisture increases cesium uptake in plants, and so does the presence of ammonium ions. Citric acid was found to enhance uptake of uranium in Brassica and Amaranthus by a factor of 1000, and sulfate has been used to release plutonium from soil binding for phytoremediation.30 Uptake is higher in sandy soils, which has made cesium a problem for inhabitants of atolls near nuclear testing sites, but since those soils are high in calcium, there is less strontium uptake.

    Fungi may also enhance cesium uptake, but this depends on the species of fungus. Fusarium species frequently damage crops, but a non-pathogenic strain used with tomatoes enhanced that plant’s uptake of both cesium and strontium.31

    A number of other factors can affect plant uptake of radionuclides, including starvation, plant age, growth stimulation or inhibition and variations in plant transpiration, but radionuclide uptake follows the same pathway as the analog nutrient uptake.

    Plants which concentrate radionuclides may also be useful as bio-monitors. A southeastern American pine species, Pinus palustris, reportedly concentrated cesium-137, and analysis of its needles could be used to predict the degree of soil contamination, and potassium-40 correlated well with cesium-137. Plutonium-238, 239 and 240 were concentrated in the roots of Sparganium americanum.32

    Spiderwort flowers have been found to act as biological indicators, because their stamens, which are normally blue turn pink when exposed to radionuclides.30

    Soil Binding

    Clay may very well prove to be your best friend. Bentonite has a strong negative ionic charge, so it picks up cationic radionuclides, including cesium-137 and strontium-90 and carries them out of the body through the stool. The author employs it in her diet whenever questions of contamination arise. Bentonite will also bind the analog nutrients (sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium), so one must get sufficient amounts of these from safe sources in between bentonite doses.

    Likewise, a clay soil, especially one with lost of mica minerals, can bind these radionuclides, preventing their subsequent uptake by crops. Other soils may also bind them to some degree, but clay binds cesium and strontium better, and is especially good at binding strontium so tightly it is irreversible. Clay, especially zeolitic, can be added to soil to enhance this function, as the author is doing. Binding is said to be optimal at 15~20 degrees C for cesium and 20~25 degrees C for strontium. The radiation basically stays put in the ground and stuck to the soil, where as long as it is not excessive, it will do little harm, at least less than if it were absorbed internally.33

    Alas, absorption of cesium in the soil is too complex for simple description. Microorganisms may increase radionuclide binding by increasing the surface for binding in the organic matrix. Fungi may decrease the transfer of cesium to shoots by immobilizing it in the roots, but as described above under phytoremediation, some species may facilitate cesium uptake.

    It has, however, been demonstrated possible to grow safe crops in contaminated soil if precautions are taken. One Austrian organic farmer managed to avoid contamination of his crops where all of the surrounding crops were ruined for one season by fallout from Chernobyl. A long but extremely good read for anyone farming or gardening can be enjoyed at Below is a brief summary.

    To achieve optimal microbial activity, Luebke ensured a good oxygen supply in the soil by aerating it. The oxygen content in soil can be diminished through compaction or presence of stagnant water. This can result in the loss of large amounts of nitrogen due to poor microbial action and metabolism. Carbon inputs improve the soil’s structure.

    A book written in 1932, Biology of Radium and Uranium by J. Stoklasa, provided Luebke an early overview.32 (It turns out a whole field of study was developed under the Soviet Union called “radio-ecology,” which may hold valuable knowledge that would be applicable now. Luebke noted that oftentimes research fails to make progress because researchers ignore prior research and “reinvent the wheel” repeatedly.)

    In response to radioactive contamination from Chernobyl, the government’s recommendation was to remove the first foot of topsoil, but that was technically impossible.

    To ensure optimal conditions for binding of radionuclides, soil testing is essential. Desirable equipment includes temperature recording equipment, CO2 infrared measuring equipment, O2 measuring equipment, a pH meter and soil solution tubes in which a vacuum can be created. Refer to Luebke’s work for their use.

    Luebke’s topsoil had such a high absorption capacity that it bound all cations, including cesium, and released them at such a slow rate that any single harvest would have low levels, even root crops. He employed green manuring to achieve this, growing rye, chopping it finely, inoculating it with certain bacteria, and tilling it into the soil with a spading machine. He developed the bacteria himself from cultures he purchased from a laboratory in Maryland, adapted for breaking down manure. Stored as a powder, it is good for two years. When restored and immediately put into compost, the bacteria thrive. This kind of green manuring with crops such as rye boosts enzymatic activity in the soil. Rye is a good crop for this because it grows quickly and brings a lot of green matter back to the soil in a short time, which breaks down quickly under good conditions. In essence, organic farming techniques with application of organic matter result in safer crops.

    Luebke noted that pesticide and herbicide loads are also reduced quickly by heightened microbial activity. He said that soil should be viewed as “capital” rather than a “mine.”

    It has been speculated based on the above, that after a fallout event it might be good to till the soil so that the radionuclides can start binding to the soil. That might be an oversimplification, but it would be worth studying.

    Another website with information on Luebke’s techniques is It says Luebke is a soil microbiologist with an on-farm laboratory and has been an organic farmer since the 1960s. He has developed what is called the “CMC Compost and Humus Management System.” In ten years, he can raise the organic content of a clay loam soil from 2% to 15%. The nitrate content of his vegetables is significantly lower than in conventionally produced vegetables. The “clay-humus crumb” structure of his soil promotes high numbers and diversity of microbes. Green manures, like rye, provide food to these microbes, but sufficient moisture is needed for them and oxygen is also critical. The green manure must be cut and chopped fine prior to incorporation. Inoculation of the green manure is advised. If heavy rains compact green manures, after they dry, the soil must be reworked. Especially heavy residues tend to go anaerobic and putrefy, so it is best to avoid too much crop biomass by incorporating it earlier in the season as necessary. As a result of these efforts, the root vegetables on his farm were uniquely free of radioactive contamination after fallout from Chernobyl, when all other farms in the region showed contamination.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Minimizing the Threat of Chronic Internal Radiation

    Part IV Other Recommended Reading

    There is so much more information on this vital topic than I could include here, so I will refer the reader to other good resources. In addition, I welcome any feedback readers may provide.

    Susie Gruber posted an article on Collapse Net, featuring work by Dr. Melissa Patterson, ND, on supplementation strategies for helping the body cope with increased levels of radiation, which can be viewed at:

    Intelligent nutritional choices should constitute an important part of anyone’s strategy for facing nuclear contamination. Therefore I recommend reading this article and the discussion below it, which also brings up good points.

    Another recommendation for anyone living near a nuclear power plant is to take a look at This provides advice on avoidance of acute exposures as well as chronic internal exposures, and includes information on food, water and hygienic practices in the home, working environment and outdoors. Among other information, it notes that baking soda has been used to protect the kidneys from uranium by changing urine pH, that rain is especially dangerous when fallout may occur and that places where it collects should be avoided (they are the first place to go with your Geiger counter if in doubt about fallout), and that a wet surgical mask will remove most cesium-137, but a dry one won’t. It also suggests that legumes and field grains (millet, barley, wheat, etc.) may constitute an exception of high-potassium foods less inclined to absorb cesium.

    The Yahoo Group “SoilandHealth” has also been recommended to me as a resource with good articles and discussions of interest to anyone who is farming or gardening.

    Basic protocols for emergency radioactive decontamination can be seen at:

    Comprehensive information on a wide range of radionuclides can be found at:


    The author holds a huge debt of gratitude to the blogger by the name of Stone Harbor, who participates in discussions on alternative medicine at , and the Yahoo Group “SoilandHealth” for providing many of the resources referred to herein. Gratitude also goes to Wikipedia for supplying groundwork facts on chemistry and biology, which were not cited as much as they were used.

    (1) April contamination of shiitake:
    (2) Contaminated milk in Hawaii (Cs-134, Cs-137, I-131):
    (3) Reported by Natural News:
    (4) NHK documentary airing on the BS1 channel Aug. 14, 2011 at 6:30 p.m.
    (5) Alexey Yablokov reviewed studies on the outcome of Chernobyl describing these kinds of effects. Here is a video featuring him:
    (9) Fairewinds video last accessed on Collapse Net, but currently unavailable.
    (11) Luebke’s invaluable experience in organic farming:
    (13) Cesium on mushrooms grown indoors (it was not determined if it was the air or substrate blocks contaminated):
    (14) Widespread contamination, mushrooms particularly vulnerable:
    (15) Mushrooms for cleaning radioactivity (some species concentrate to 10,000 times background level):
    (23) Americium at Fukushima:
    (25) Open letter from Britton and Shekinah of Milk and Honey Farm, Hawaii.
    (27) Michael Astera on Yahoo Group “Soil and Health”
    (28) Ensley, B. D. 2000. Rationale for use of phytoremediation. Chapter 1 of Phytoremediation of toxic metals: Using plants to clean up the environment, ed. I. Raskin and B. D. Ensley. New York: Wiley-Interscience Publication.

  5. #5
    Administrator Islander's Avatar
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    16th September 2007
    Maine, USA. The way life should be.

    Default Re: Minimizing the Threat of Chronic Internal Radiation

    Wow, Pat, what an exhaustive treatment. Thank you so much, and thanks to StoneHarbor for motivating you! Unless I hear an objection from you, I'd like to Tweet this and post it on Facebook. I'm so impressed!
    ➤ Happiness is the frosting on the cake of contentment.

  6. #6
    Veteran Member mellowsong's Avatar
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    24th September 2007
    South Carolina

    Default Re: Minimizing the Threat of Chronic Internal Radiation

    Thank you Pat. Amazing amount of info here!

  7. #7
    Veteran Member Reesacat's Avatar
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    24th September 2007
    West Virginia

    Default Re: Minimizing the Threat of Chronic Internal Radiation

    Thanks, Pat! I just saw a TV show with Tony Bourdain who went to the Ukraine and visited Chernobyl. They had geiger counters and the things were going off like crazy! They were not allowed to touch any foliage or dirt. It was when I was reading your article it just made so much sense.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Stoneharbor's Avatar
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    21st December 2010
    Travelers Rest, SC, USA

    Default Re: Minimizing the Threat of Chronic Internal Radiation

    Very impressive, Pat! I do remember sending you some articles on soil binding and remediation, since your hands are in the soil there in Japan! You have done a marvelous job though to help all of us understand more about the risks of radionuclides that we all must live with a bit more closely now! Obviously, farmers must learn about this subject, but I'm thinking, even school children must now get an elementary education on this subject, just as they learn how to avoid poison ivy, and wasp nests.

    Mushrooms as a cleaning agent - who would have guessed! I still need to finish the last part, and the references, but kudos!

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