Anti-Nuclear Quote of the Day.
“Doctors now estimate that about 160,000 children below the age of seven living in the Ukraine in radioactively contaminated areas are at risk of developing thyroid cancer from radioactive iodine 131.“
No, there are no children in the Ukraine below the age of seven who are at an elevated risk of developing thyroid cancer due to the Chernobyl accident. In fact, there are no people in the Ukraine, or Belarus, below 19 or so years of age who are at any increased risk of developing thyroid cancer due to the Chernobyl accident.
Why? Because they were never exposed to any radioactive iodine-131 source term.
I-131 has a short half-life: 8 days.
The Chernobyl Forum puts the release of I-131 from Chernobyl at 1.8 EBq – that’s 1.8 x 10^18 Bq; a hell of a lot of radioactivity. Because of what happened to Chernobyl Unit 4, and because Iodine is so volatile and reactive, that represents nearly the entire amount of I-131 in the nuclear fuel.
1 year after the disaster, 0nly 0.88 microcuries of I-131 remained in the environment, undecayed. (I-131 has a specific activity of 1.2 * 10^5 Ci/g).
After 1.83 years – one year and 10 months – there is a 90% chance that there is not one single I-131 atom left undecayed. This is all rather straightforward to calculate – I won’t bore you all with it, unless somebody wants to challenge my calculations – feel free.
There are no children being exposed to I-131 from Chernobyl today. The only people with an increased risk of thyroid cancer are those who were there in 1986-1987, during and immediately after the accident, when the I-131 was present.