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Never mind the view. How many mSv?

January 21, 2012
“It’s a deal!”

           For the last few days, my mind has been on long-term effects of Fukushima fallout in North America – and not just on health and mortality, either.

          A more radioactive environment is going to affect everything, including something you may not have considered: property value.

           “Property value?” you may wonder. “How can a nuclear crisis in Japan affect property values in the US and Canada?” (Please forgive me for omitting Mexico, but my command of Spanish is not equal to composing an essay in it.)

           As is clear by now, radioactivity from the Fukushima meltdowns is not confined to Japan. By air and sea, it is spreading abroad.

          Windborne, it sweeps across all of North America and falls to earth with rain and snow. The outcome is a steady accumulation of radioactivity at ground level. In other words, the ground gets steadily hotter.

           But the heat, so to speak, is not spread evenly. Previous posts have noted how runoff concentrates radionuclides wherever water collects – in brooks, streams, creeks, ponds, rivers, et cetera.

          This is why you may walk a few meters and suddenly find yourself in a much more radioactive place. Water has accumulated there, then evaporated and left behind a deposit of radionuclides … again and again.

           So, precipitation and drainage together could make your property a hot spot indeed, depending on where in North America you are located and a lot of other factors too, such as average annual precipitation and the topography of land.

          If you live on a large tract of land doused with hot rainfall, for example, you could find your exposure to radioactivity increasing all the time. A microsievert per hour here, another there, and pretty soon you’re looking at danger.

          Think I’m exaggerating? Note what is happening already in Tokyo:

           For information beyond this, or on specific properties, you probably would have to consult a hydrologist. I’m just a journalist with academic training in geology and geography.

           Yet it takes no specialist to see how land gets contaminated. And contaminated land, or anything else laden with fallout, tends to lose value.

          That is why land values in North America soon may change dramatically because of Fukushima.

           A shack in a relatively dry spot, for example, might suddenly be worth more than a whole estate doused with fallout. (Would you live on land that zapped you with 500 millisieverts per year? Didn’t think so.)

           So, if you’re interested in buying real estate, then maybe you should carry a radiation meter when you look at property.

          Something invisible but deadly may lurk in that gorgeous lot beside the lake. You never know until the meter speaks.

           There’s something else to bear in mind also about radioactivity and property values … but we’ll save that for next time.

          Hint: it’s in building materials, too.

© David Ritchie 2012

          (David Ritchie lives and works in Seoul, Korea. He welcomes correspondence and asks only that it be civil in tone. Email


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  1. newoaktown permalink

    ya sadly cascadia is hot.

    no wonder bush dynasty bought land in paraguay.

    if true, big aquifer, good soil, avoid 1st world nuke plant collapse casdade….

  2. I was in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture last week (briefly). One meter off the ground in the park outside a community center, the gamma reading on my Terra-P dosimeter was 0.35 microsieverts per hour. Dirt in a concrete drainage ditch was 1.85. I looked up from the meter and the park was full of children and parents playing oblivious to it all. Kind of surreal.
    David, whatever the cause of your symptoms is, I hope you can get all the tests and treatments you need. What you described sounds pretty serious and shouldn’t be left untreated. Take care.

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  1. #NukeFreeCal Never mind the view. How many mSv? « Darin R. McClure – The Good Life In San Clemente

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