Posted in disease, earthquake, Health, news, nuclear

Plutonium “Smuggled” Into Site Near Las Vegas…..What Are The Health Impacts?

News of trucks bringing weapons-grade plutonium into Southern Nevada earlier this year drew a glitz of gasps from Las Vegas residents and legislators who knew nothing of the shipments.

The radioactive material came from South Carolina and was authorized by the Department of Energy to be stored at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) 65 miles (per its site) northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada.

 

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Legal attempts to remove the plutonium and stop future shipments have met with resistance as the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 allows the US government to control the development, regulation, and disposal of nuclear materials and facilities in the United States (Wikipedia).

Plutonium is a man-made radioactive element created by the destruction of uranium, a naturally occurring radioactive element. Both have been used as fuel sources and to make nuclear weapons.

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Plutonium is known as an “unstable” element, in that it will decay until it eventually reduces to a stable element. During this decay, radiation is emitted.  The radiation particles (specifically alpha and beta) will usually not penetrate the skin, however if ingested, absorbed or inhaled, could enter the human body and deposit in organs, affecting nearby tissues. Since its half-life, or rate of decay, can take years, organs in the body, such as lungs, liver, and bones can be exposed chronically to the radiation. This may result in radiation illness, cancer or death.

Signs of radiation illness include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sores/skin burns
  • Frequent infections
  • Diarrhea
  • Hair loss
  • Weakness
  • Internal Bleeding
  • and more….

Currently there have been no reports of illness due to its storage in Nevada and the US government has assured the state that the storage facility is safe. However, potential seismic activity or an act of terrorism could lead to a potential leak and/or contamination, and with the infamous desert winds, radioactive material could be blown to nearby towns and inhaled or ingested by residents.

Per the NNSS site:

The DAF (Device Assembly Facility) is a collection of more than 30 individual steel-reinforced concrete buildings connected by a rectangular common corridor. The entire complex, covered by compacted earth, spans an area of 100,000 square feet.
Safety systems include fire detection and suppression, electrical grounding, independent heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems with high-efficiency particulate air filters, alarm systems, and warning lights. In operational areas, pairs of blast doors, designed to mitigate the effects of an explosion, are interlocked so that only one door may open at a time.

And some reports say the plutonium may be shipped out of state to nearby facilities and not remain in Nevada.

I won’t hold my breath….oh wait…maybe I should…..

 

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Great Gift!!!

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

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Posted in earthquake, Health, news, weather

Earthquake Preparedness And Safety

Image above from WorldAtlas.com

As multiple earthquakes and aftershocks rattle the Southwestern US, seismologists predict more to come and people fear the “big one” could follow.

Here’s how to prepare:

Have An Emergency/Earthquake/Fire Readiness Plan

Assuming cell phones will not work in the event of a natural disaster, map out with family and friends where possible meeting sites will be.

Know your emergency exits and plan what to do in case of an earthquake/fire (explained below).

Have food, water and supplies stored in plastic garbage bags that can be easily grabbed and taken with you in case of an emergency.

Have an “emergency kit” with phone numbers, medications, money and other important documents in water-proof/fire-proof casing.

Include tools, whistles, flash lights and batteries in your emergency kit as well.

Ensure Your House is Safe

Loose foundations, awnings, book shelves, chandeliers and knickknacks to name a few could cause serious injury in the event of an earthquake.  Anchor down any loose fixtures.  Family members should know how to shut off gas/electric/water supplies and appliances should have flexible, break away connections. Avoid hanging anything heavy such as pictures or chandeliers above the bed.

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Image above from cabinplace

Consult professionals if unsure if your house is able to withstand shifts in its foundation.

During a Quake

If indoors, take cover under a table, desk, or doorway.  Be careful of swinging doors, and keep hands and arms close to your body, covering your head if possible.

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Avoid running outside during an earthquake. Find a room in the house with few  wall/ceiling hangings and stay in the center to avoid windows, bookshelves or other furniture shifting and falling onto you.

If you’re in bed, and no time to run to a safe room, you can cover your head with a pillow.

If you are outside when the shaking starts, find an open area and drop to the ground, staying low.  Avoid power lines, trees, overpasses and buildings.

If in a vehicle when the shaking starts, pull over to a safe open area. Again avoid power lines, trees, buildings and overpasses.

After a Quake

Exit any damaged buildings, move away from them and go to an open area, and refrain from going into another building that may appear damaged.

If you live in an area near water, go to higher land in case a tsunami follows.

If trapped inside, use a whistle or nearby object to alert first responders of where you may be.

For more information on earthquake preparedness, visit here.

 

ultimate book cover final

Great Gift!!!

The Ultimate Medical Student HandBook

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.