Monday, March 21, 2011

Radiation and Popcorn

And I'm not talking about the Microwave Oven.

Now, first off, I don't believe that here in Texas we'll see any worrisome radiation from the Japanese nuclear accident.  Got that?  But I write fiction, and one of my current works in progress has a bit of post-apocolyptic nuclear stuff in it so it's on my mind. I have my own Geiger counter and if you want to see what it's doing go here: http://www.youtube.com/user/henrymelton?feature=mhsn

But I'm really writing to talk about popcorn -- lovely, buttery, salty popcorn.

The radiation tie-in is radioactive iodine.  This isotope of iodine is really the only effect nuclear disasters like the Japanese event and Chernobyl that could possibly have any medical effect at all to people here in the US.  Luckily, the reason iodine is the worst, is that the body concentrates it into they thyroid gland, leading to cancer down the road.  That also means that by loading the body with iodine, hopefully before the exposure to the radioactive kind, the body rejects the bad stuff.

For a long time, it's been known that taking Potassium Iodide tablets can top up the body and prevent problems.  In the Chernobyl, Poland handed out the pills to all its population and nobody got thyroid cancer.  The 11,000 cases of thyroid cancer caused by that event (UN count in 2002) happened to the other guys, who didn't take the pills.

Now, where are these magic pills?  Sorry, all sold out.  But IF there's significant I-131 wafting our way across the Pacific, then our government will warn us.  Right?  Seriously.  I wouldn't get all panicky about it.  In fact they've said that even if you have the pills, don't take them yet.

But what about the popcorn?

Well, there is another source of iodine.   Now, this isn't the same thing as the iodine pills.  You'd have to literally kill yourself eating salt to get the same kind of dosage as the pills.  But, if you have sufficient iodine in your diet to meet the ordinary standards, you'll still be in better shape than if your diet is low in iodine.  So, a grin steals across my face as I realize this, I've got a perfect excuse for a daily dosage of popcorn, sprinkled with iodized salt.

I have no excuse for the butter, but maybe there's some magic in the fat molecules?  Right?

Now if you are really concerned about this, maybe reading this in Japan or whatever, then read all the articles in this site: http://www.ki4u.com/ I especially like their PLAN B, where if you're caught without the proper Potassium Iodine tablets, you paint your body daily with 8 ml of tincture of iodine.  (Don't drink the stuff.  It's poisonous.)

Anyway, if you're like me, living in Texas, just look at my radiation reports and realize there's nothing to worry about.  As for me, I just bought another box of popcorn, and it isn't going to eat itself.  Later.

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