Radiation levels in the Ukraine increased over three years
before returning to May 1986 levels.
As we learned from the Chernoble accident, we can expect,
measured high radioactivity in livestock to increase
six months after the initial fall-out. If the initial
weather conditions are rain when the vented plumes surface
and reach locales and communities, the levels of radioactive
caesium in livestock will continue to increase in those areas.
Obviously, not all localities are measured for fall-out,
and some areas will be entirely missed (especially in the countryside)
and people who live there left in ignorance.
What we have learned is we should be on our guard if it
rains heavily at a time when the radioactive cloud
is somewhere in the vicinity.
If there is contaminated air in the vicinity,
we should not go outside, nor drink rainwater,
and not go for a swim. Animals must be sheltered
and kept inside for many weeks. This reduces the
exposure to short-lived radio-isotopes like iodine-131.
Contamination of food will be a problem where fall-out
has contaminated the supply of wheat and feed.
Wild vegetation tends to be more efficient at
concentrating radioactive material than well-fertilized
domestic crops. Game animals that live on these plants
are likely to have higher levels of radioactivity
compared with domestic ones.
Some buildings are more effective in shielding us from
radiation than are others. The best protection is found
in an air-tight building, concrete blocks or apartments.
The traditional wooden structures are less protective.
If you remain in the area, you might move to a
prefabricated air tight home.
Filters in an air cleaning system will have to be
replaced following a radioactive event, and care
must be taken when changing and disposing of the
contaminated filters. If iodine tablets were not
issued, uptake of radio iodine may be lessed
by consuming kelp.
The main task after a major radiation release
should not be to hose down vehicles, roads,
buildings, because that only disperses the
particles into the soil; the main task is
to confine the contamination and
dispose of it at a safe site.
When the source of radioactive contamination is closed and secured,
the task of collecting fall-out begins.
The Soviets sprayed a light, sticky plastic film
over the surface of the ground, which was later
gathered and disposed. The first few centimeters
of topsoil have to be taken to a secure landfill site.
Buildings can be coated with special paint, and roads
may be tarred to bind radioactive fallout
for collection and disposal.
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