From Herschel Smith at captainsjournal.com comes this article discussing Preparing for Nuclear Disaster and dealing with some myths and bad information involved with the same. He also opines about the possibilities (or lack thereof) of nuclear war with North Korea.
Let’s discuss a few things concerning radiation, radioactivity and nuclear events. If you’re a layman, most articles you will read on these subjects will either be written way above your head, or by people who only pretend to know what they’re talking about because they lack the proper education and experience to speak intelligently. Even the man who wrote this article on surviving a nuclear attack is in that category.
I could wax haughty and throw words around showing what I know about photon, electron and neutron shielding, the theoretical and mathematical difference between a Rad, Roentgen and a Rem, committed dose equivalent to organs, total effective dose equivalent, albedos, Keff (criticality) calculations, the Boltzmann transport equation and reactor kinetics. But it would do you precisely no good. None. You wouldn’t be one bit better off after having read an article like that than you are right now. You would have to take an advanced engineering degree or train in the radiological sciences in order to stay with me in such a discussion, and you can’t right now, so that’s that. Something else needs to be done because the conversation the “journalist” had with that prepper above is off the charts stupid.
Potassium Iodine, or KI, doesn’t stop the thyroid from “absorbing radiation.” It isn’t a magic radiation pill, regardless of how pepper and survivalist web sites market it. There is nothing magic about it. There is a little bit it can do under the right circumstances, and it can’t do anything else. If you take it – and be aware that taking KI when you don’t need it can lead to severe health problems, especially in the young and old – it will load your thyroid with iodine and prevent the absorption of any more iodine, radioactive or not. The intent behind this is to prevent radioactive iodine from being absorbed by the thyroid and thus the absorbed radiation dose from such a localized source.
What it doesn’t do is prevent the thyroid from “absorbing radiation.” The entire whole body, including every organ in your body and the skin (which is treated as an organ by the ICRP) will still attenuate and absorb radiation from external sources, such as immersion in a cloud of radioactive material. Charged particles (such as betas, or in other words, electrons) can be essentially stopped by clothing, skin and just a little tissue overlying the organs.
You cannot wear enough shielding to stop gammas or neutrons, although being inside a structure deep in the ground could help…