Infographic: A look at real-time radiation levels in central Japan

Here's an infographic of radiation levels in central Japan. Put the radiation scare into perspective.
Written by Boonsri Dickinson, Contributing Editor

There's been a lot of news about radiation levels and some of those stories have been pretty scary. The workers called the Fukushima 50, will likely die from radiation sickness. And the radiation isn't exactly being contained on site. Not only is radiation spreading through the air, it's making its way into the food supply and groundwater.

For instance, the nuclear crisis affects sushi because seaweed absorbs so much iodine from the environment. Even traces of radiation have been found in milk in California and Washington State. However, experts say the levels of iodine-131 detected in the milk aren't high enough to cause health damage. In fact, the levels are 5,000 times lower than the limit established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is stepping up its airborne radioactive testing, after 15 states reported elevated levels of radiation in the air.

These are all U.S. concerns. However, how does radiation exposure look like in central Japan?

I asked this very question and Tableau answered it with the infographic above.

Using real-time radiation levels in Japan, this visualization puts radiation exposure into perspective.

In the map, the big green circle around Ibaraki is bigger than the other locations because it is south of Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s damaged nuclear plant.

After radiation levels had initially spiked around March 15, it appears that radiation levels are leveling off.

It would take a few weeks of standing in central Japan to be exposed to radiation you'd receive from a chest x-ray.

It would take about 10 weeks of standing around for radiation levels to equal the radiation one gets after a mammogram.

It would take about 20 weeks for radiation levels to equal a year of natural exposure. A person is basically getting the same amount of exposure they'd get in one year... in less than half a year.

It would take about 10,000 weeks (or nearly 200 years) for a person to be exposed to levels that can cause radiation sickness. Obviously, this level of exposure is impossible.

Do you want to know more about radiation exposure? Read my story on radiation exposure: With radiation levels high in Japan, radiation exposure is explained.

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