Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Fruit Warning

Saw this article about radiation and food over at Wattsupwiththat and fell about laughing. The article points out that the levels of background radiation in naturally grown foodstuffs, like bananas, are higher than we think. For example;

Relative food radiation levels;
Beer= 390 pCi/liter
Tap Water= 20 pCi/liter
Milk= 1,400 pCi/liter
Salad Oil= 4,900 pCi/liter
Whiskey= 1,200 pCi/liter
Brazil Nuts= 14,000 pCi/kg
Bananas= 3000 pCi/kg
Flour= 140 pCi/kg
Peanuts 8,000 pCi/kg
Peanut Butter= 120 pCi/kg
Tea= 400 pCi/kg

In fact most foods contain some form of radioactivity. This is perfectly natural. The world is filled with various kinds of radioactivity. It occurs regardless of human activity.

One of the figures quoted is our total exposure to radiation in a year is in the region of 360 millirems a year. Before you go running off to berate others about atom bomb tests, remember that a single transatlantic flight can expose you to about 4 extra millirems a year, whereas dosage from atmospheric pre ban treaty nuclear tests has been calculated overall at 1 millirem a year. Moving to a location 1000 feet above sea level exposes you to an extra 5 millirems a year. That's not including radiation from the soil and rock underneath your feet. Like granite? High natural background radiation just from that fancy counter top in your kitchen.

Figures culled from here. Please go and read.

Next time some anxiety prone goes off at me about the wickedness of nuclear power stations, food residues and sterilising with Gamma radiation, I think I'll just ask them about how many bananas they eat.


Angry Exile said...

I came across banana equivalent dose a while back (I think I was doing a post on thorium reactors as well) and have thoroughly enjoyed scaring the crap out of nuclearphobes since then. Especially the ones with young children that get fed a lot of mashed up banana as part of their five a day. These are usually people who, when I suggest that nuclear power is a good idea for a country with a big chunk of the world's uranium (thorium too for that matter), think the unanswerable response is "Yeah, but would you want to live near a nuclear power station." Since I've lived within an hour or two of maybe a dozen reactors and spent a few years with one a few miles away I usually say something like "What? Again? Why not - it did me no harm before." And then I mention the bananas...

What, you didn't realise when you were giving them to the kids? ... No, really, they are, I'm serious ... Er, are you feeling alright? You've gone a bit pale.

Bwahahahahahahaha. But I do explain that the point is that a banana holds no fear, and if we accept that then it puts a new and non-scary perspective on nuclear energy. Most have scaled back the opposition a bit and a few have come round to the idea, especially when I tell them about LFTR.

Changing minds by scaring parents - well, if the greenies can do it then why not? At least I'm telling them why they can stop being afraid after they've shat bricks.

Bill Sticker said...

I think the one about fancy granite worktops is a chucklesome one to put the willies up the food scare fiends.

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