DOST says PH relatively safe even if Japan nuclear crisis worsens; DOH says Betadine swab "useless" against radiation illness

Even if the Japan nuclear crisis reaches a Chernobyl-like level, there will be little impact on the Philippines, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said yesterday in an ABS-CBN News report.

The Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant is at alert level four but in the Philippines, alert levels remain at zero, said Alumanda dela Rosa, director of the DOST Philippine Nuclear Research Institution. "Even in a worst-case scenario, there is little extent (impact) on the Philippines."

DOST Secretary Mario Montejo cited the 1986 level-seven Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine, the effects of which reached the Netherlands, and said, "the Philippines is far from Japan." Montejo added that the wind is moving east from Japan to the Pacific Ocean, away from the Philippines, approximately until May 15.

Dela Rosa noted that radiation, from natural and man-made sources, is currently present in the air and food we eat. According to ABS-CBN News, absorbing up to 250 millisievert of radiation will have no obvious effect on the body. Absorbing 250 to 1,000 millisievert will cause temporary nausea, blood cell damage, and sterility among men. At 1,000 to 3,000 millisievert, death is possible. On Monday at 7:30 p.m., authorities recorded 57 micro-sievert, a micro-sievert being 1,000 less than a millisievert, according to the report.

On Monday, text messages that turned out to be a hoax spread rumors of acid rain in the Philippines. The public was advised to swab Betadine antiseptic on their throats to prevent radiation illness.

Department of Health official Agnette Peralta debunked the supposed advice yesterday. ABS-CBN News quoted her: "Putting Betadine on the throat is useless. Betadine is used for treating wounds. It has nothing to do with radioactivity." She said the DOH will procure prophylactic potassium iodide, which is used to block the absorption of radioactive iodine.

For more on this story, log on to ABS-CBN News.

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