Nuclear accident protective measures - some good info : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I just read most of "How To Survive A Nuclear Accident" by Duncan Long (1988), a book sold by Loompanics, a company with whom I have no connection. Some pieces of useful info in this that I have not seen elsewhere:

1) We all have heard about taking by mouth 130 mg. of Potassium Iodide (KI) per day for up to 100 days as a protective measure to reduce the likelihood of thyroid cancer from the radioactive isotope I-131. This isotope is typically produced and released by nuclear incidents such as fission bomb detonation (ala Hiroshima) or fission power plant meltdowns (ala Chernobyl).

However, the also-released radioisotope Cesium-137 can (according to this book) have its absorption into the human body be interfered with by taking Potassium (K) supplements by mouth, as can the absorption of Strontium-90 (Sr) be reduced by timely use of Calcium (Ca) supplements. This makes sense to me based on what I already know. A periodic table ( shows the chemical similarity between these two pairs elements in terms of similiar valence charge/structure of ion (are in same line vertically) and in terms of ionic radius (atomic #s not too far away, so molecular weight not so different). Also, the way Strontium-90 concentrates in milk (where Calcium is being concentrated) is well-known, so obviously this can be expected to work in reverse.

2) The book also mentioned using fertilizers heavy in K and Ca in areas exposed to radioactive fallout to reduce the uptake of radioactive Cs and Sr. This makes perfect sense to me, taking the previous as a given. Also, it should be easy/inexpensive to purchase fertilizers specifically enriched in these two elements, as they are major nutrients commonly added to soil to encourage crop growth. The book did not mention using nonradioactive Iodine this way, which I first thought of as an omission. After some reflection, the expense and toxicity of using Iodine this way would inhibit such use. Also, the half-life of I-131 is only 8 days; after only 128 days (barely 4 months) from formation (not deposition) its concentration would be down to 1/32 of initial levels. When you consider the likely delay between sowing a crop and the average date it gets consumed, the utility from using nonradioactive Iodine this way seems slight. However, the half-lives of around 30 years for these Sr and Cs radioisotopes would mean that 580 years would have to pass to bring about a similiar concentration reduction, so using fertilizers to heavily add nonradioactive Ca and K to interfere with their uptake into food crops grown on that soil looks like a good idea for fallout-exposed soil.

3) The only apparent technical flaw I spotted in the book is that it seems to underestimate the penetrative ability of beta particles.

4) Some useful links related to this subject (anyone want to make hotlinks, go ahead): (gives some info on the above radioisotopes) (a periodic table)[] (This takes you right to the page display for the book; will get you to the home page.)

Also, a quick search of Paladin Press's website seemed to show that PP doesn't carry it, while Amazon ( DOES sell this book.


Overall, it was a useful book IMO, and was worth buying even though I already had read "Life After Doomsday" by Bruce Clayton (1980). Anyone with an idea as to how much Ca and K to use as fertilizer to be helpful against radioactive Sr and Cs, please post to this thread.

my website: (hope to have some new stuff on it soon)

-- MinnesotaSmith (, November 23, 1999


Just wanted to affirm having read the text by Bruce Clayton. I think it does an outstanding job on a difficult subject. Clayton also does a great job of staying in the political middle to protect credibility. Regardless of other books you may own on surviving catastrophe, you should try to obtain the "Life after Doomsday".

Just my two cents. Thanks for bringing up the subject.

-- Irving (, November 23, 1999.

Oh, and I forgot this bit: the book noted that radioisotopes in the fallout from the meltdown of a nuclear power plant could be expected to average much longer half-lives than that in standard nuclear weapon detonations. IMO, this could well mean (in my neck of the woods) that if the nuclear power plant in Monticello goes, that at least half of the Twin Cities would be uninhabited for most of the rest of my life. Glad my bugout location is WAY away from MPLS/St. Paul.

-- MinnesotaSmith (, November 23, 1999.

info on radioisotopes

chemicool periodic table


-- Joe (, November 23, 1999.

Another excellent book is 'Nuclear War Survival Skills' by Cresson H. Kearny with forward by Dr. Edward Teller. Can be viewed online

Don't recommend downloading; to many pictures, graphs, etc.


-- Joe Tietjens (, November 23, 1999.

To all:

If you assume communications might be down, don't forget radiation monitoring devices; else you would never know (in absence of audible explosion, etc.) when or if you should start (and stop) taking the supplements.

-- eve (, November 23, 1999.

have a look at They sell dosimeters and dosimeter chargers along with similar useful stuff. As Bruce Clayton points out, a plot on double log graph paper of radioactivity vs. time is about linear for the mix of isotopes from a typical nuclear weapon. got graph paper?

-- Les Holladay (, November 23, 1999.

Boy, I'm glad I'm upwind of the cities! Being a downwinder as a kid was enough for me, thank you.

-- Liz Pavek (, November 23, 1999.

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