In Japan, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, has now become a matter of concern due to its possible harmful effects to health. Although radiation levels outside the plant are relatively low and less likely to cause health problems but warning have been issued.
The harmful effects of radiation depend on the dose. The acute effects of radiation sickness are manifested at doses of one sievert or more. To have an idea, a chest x-ray delivers about 0.2 millisieverts of radiation, and an average person in the U.S. is exposed to about six millisieverts of radiation per year.
Radiation levels at the Fukushima plant are fluctuating very rapidly. So far, the recorded highest emission levels are 400 millisieverts per hour but these drop down to less than half in certain hours. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the recorded values ranged from 0.6 millisieverts to 11.9 millisieverts per hour during certain times.
Whereas, the levels revealed by Japan Atomic Industrial Forum are around millisieverts/hour. However, the levels are showing great variations, and reports predict higher levels of radiation due to the storage of spent fuel rods. Rates of 250 millisieverts/hour have been reported above the nuclear plant.
Radiations initially affect the growing cells i.e., RBC’s and cells of gastrointestinal lining. The effects can be life threatening at 4 to 5 sieverts that might necessitate bone marrow transplant or therapy by growth factor stimulants, in order to avoid death within two to eight weeks. If the higher dose is given then these may cause intestinal dysfunction. The blood vessels may leak and the victim may expire within a few hours.