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How to protect your garden patch or field against radioactive fall-out

Do you own a garden, a patch of land, a field where you plant, esp. for human food or animal feed? Then you should prepare against letting the radioactive fall-out from Japan into your soil, where it will remain and contaminate your plants and e.g. livestock for probably decades.

Here’s the advice I already gave to people back in 1986 after the Chernobyl incident

… the nuclear catastrophe in the Ukraine and affecting Belarus (both in the former Soviet Union) which still is responsible for large-scale contamination in most of Europe and parts of Asia, has driven a tribe herding reindeer in Finland, the Sámi, from their pastures into a life on the dole, has wild boars in some parts of Europe regularly culled due to high radiation and rendered mushrooms inedible in many areas to this day, twenty-five years after the fall-out and thousands of miles away from its source.

What you can do, and can do even if some fall-out has already been deposited to prevent it from getting worse:

  1. Buy cheap foil and cover your garden/lawn/any open soil that’s yours whenever the weather report advises your area of coming rain.
    Then the water can’t get into the soil, hence also not the airborne radioactive fall-out.
  2. Then after each rain is over try and roll up the foil (so that it doesn’t break) and try and drive the water over to one side preferably where it will flow into a sewer, at least try and concentrate it in one spot. If after the rain the foil is too heavy to lift, consider making a hole in one place to let the water out in one particular spot, then use this spot for flowers only, clearly marked and do not plant vegetables or any food at least a few yards around it – it still helps lowering the radiation dose by, say, 90% for the remainder of your garden. Cover again when rain is expected. Dust in dry weather will also leave its marks but consider the damage by leaving the ground covered for too long – in case of radioactive fall-out there’s never an easy solution – the mistake was already made when a nuclear power station was commissioned.
  3. If airborne iodine-131 is the problem, it will decay after a few weeks to minimal amounts. Airborne caesium and other radioactive aerosols mostly are highly soluble salts which will eventually make their rounds into the rest of your grounds by diffusion.
    The case of caesium-137 with a half-life of over 30 years is different from iodine-131. It’ll dissipate again into the rest of your patch so if you have caesium in the air you should try and get rid of that water for good, e.g. into the nearest sewer.
    But still, even if it seeped into just one spot it will not “branch out” equally and evenly into all your top soil, rather it will be washed into the ground in a “reverse funnel” shape so that even concentrating it in one or several spots which you mark clearly for later reference (take photographs!) will lower radiation from soluble deposits with longer half-lives extremely for many, many years. 10% or less ist still much better than 100% – it’s like you were living hundreds of miles further off from the source!
    Your overall exposition to radiation from these sources you just prevented will be fractions of what it would have been otherwise.
  4. Lift the cover in between rain showers to let your plants and soil “breathe”, don’t leave it on all the time or you risk rot. However, better lose this year’s planting if you can’t afford to lift the foil every so often or if it were too large or heavy than risk a longer term radioactive contamination.
    Secure with stones etc. against wind.
  5. Consider planting indoors this year and read e.g. Dr. Ilya Sandra Perlingieri’s tips on planting indoors this year on Food Freedom – a blog you consider visiting in any case if you’re into planting and healthy food.

And if you have radioactivity in your tap water read how to cope with this one.

Maybe someone wants to help with translations into Japanese and other languages?

See also: “You Can Fight Radiation Sickness With Super Foods

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  1. 2011-04-18 at 20:49

    So, “the very people, who gave us all nuclear power, can not for even the least part, provide ANY remediation technologies”(Even CERN?!?), save Ones suggestion to ‘cover all with foil’? I can ONLY recommend, “spraying everything down with Clay Waters”. I’ve heard that a mineral called ZEOLITE, is excellent for dealing with this as well. Known to absorb up to 95%, of radioactive elements from the effected area. And is mined near the Fukushima Power Plants, for ‘similar purposes’!!

    French green clay @ best’. At least for consumption only, with other applications for gardens, with it’s closest & cheapest competition. Other than that,’maybe flooding the garden with *browns gas’. But using foil, is too much for most. While a colloid of said metal, might be better than foil sheeting, the clay solutions will most likely bind & chelate this off.

    What works for animals & people, is ‘ionic foot plates’. Put in any search engine, ‘ indianinthemachine ‘, for best results. Need to get the heavy metals OUT, of your body a.s.a.p!! The clay solutions, possibly mixed with Zeolite (nano particles, dust), may work better for outside use. I’ve heard that the french greenclay, is best for internal use. Just dilute with distilled water.There’s much info about this, after searching. (And possibly making a better product, for a potential untapped marketplace.) Of course, you may want to consider this;

    (* a machine that makes browns gas for welding, “makes it from water”, it is proven to neutralize radioactive particles, in the lab. More can be found by putting ‘nuclear remediation technologies’, in the search engine. Look for ‘browns gas’ videos. (Caution flammable!!) Search for yourself.) Also look here;

    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=browns+gas+welder&aq=0

    Where i live in Florida, we have many vegetable & herb gardens. It’s been on my mind A LOT lately as well! Hope this info helps some one. Peace. Love. Light!

  2. 2011-04-17 at 21:41

    Good advice. I want to protect my vegetable garden, and may consider even bringing my plants inside if I can. Maybe test using some natural low dilution sea salt or black mica to help absorb and transform and detox the iodine and cesium.

  3. 2011-04-13 at 08:33

    Dear Crisismaven,

    You have some interesting blog items there.

    But regarding the post you recommend:

    With what are you going to water your plants in your field, if not by contaminated rain ? Are you going to spend all your bottled water and / or decontaminated water on your plants outside and die from dehydration ?

    I would advise you:

    - IF you are very close to the Nuclear Accident , to leave the area for good, never to return while you still can and as far away as possible.

    In case of a Nuclear War:

    - to get all the vegetables, which can also grow inside, out of the garden before the first contaminated rain falls. Then at least you have a small livestock which is not going to be contaminated.

    - to make your self a storage room the minute you hear about a Nuclear Crisis. Store sucker and salt; tinned food: fish, vegetables and milk; dry beans and brown rice; and vitamin 30 and vitamin B 12 pills and of course not contaminated water.

    - A storage of wood and or coal will enable you to prepare your raw food, and to decontaminate water by distillation. Tinned food can be eaten without cooking.

    - Learn your children if the can understand all they need to be able to survive. And give them first aid lessons.

    This is what my parents did during the Cuba Crisis. It was scary for me as a 10 year old. I still can bring up a clear picture what was done and why.

    Ak Malten, Pro Peaceful Energy Use

    • 2011-04-13 at 11:12

      With what are you going to water your plants in your field, if not by contaminated rain?
      For a few weeks you do not water them rather than risking to drain the long-lived Caesium into the soil. Something has to give, and better one year without crop than hundreds of years with inedible crops!

      Are you going to spend all your bottled water and / or decontaminated water on your plants outside and die from dehydration?
      The bottled water revolving tapwater scheme is for inside the house, the post regarding foil cover for outside. Both strategies have nothing to do with each other whatsover, e.g. a person in a crowded city in a high-rise flat will need to heed the bottled-water advice, but won’t have a garden, the person in the countryside might need to protect their garden but may have uncontaminated water from a well for years.

      I would advise you:
      - IF you are very close to the Nuclear Accident , to leave the area for good, never to return while you still can and as far away as possible.

      Well, that’s for the Japanese – I am sitting pretty and 10,000 miles away …

      In case of a Nuclear War:
      - to get all the vegetables, which can also grow inside, out of the garden before the first contaminated rain falls. Then at least you have a small livestock which is not going to be contaminated.

      When nuclear war strikes and you live in a country as dependend as Japan, France, the US, Canada or the UK on atomic energy, you will have to do this in pitch dark at night, as the majority of sources of electricity have to switched off (nuclear power stations will be unloaded during military conflicts!) and during day time they’ll advise you to stay inside …

      - to make your self a storage room the minute you hear about a Nuclear Crisis. Store sugar and salt; tinned food: fish, vegetables and milk; dry beans and brown rice; and vitamin 30 and vitamin B 12 pills and of course not contaminated water.
      D’accord.

      - A storage of wood and or coal will enable you to prepare your raw food, and to decontaminate water by distillation. Tinned food can be eaten without cooking.
      Well, in a high rise appartment?

      - Teach your children so the can understand all they need to be able to survive. And give them first aid lessons.
      Good idea – only most people are too passive – wasn’t there a super bowl game to watch …

      This is what my parents did during the Cuba Crisis. It was scary for me as a 10 year old. I still can bring up a clear picture what was done and why.
      Your parents were out of the ordinary and so are probably you … kudos!

      • 2011-04-16 at 10:21

        Some additions,

        In the storage room you should also place a dynamo powered 12 band portable receiver; some dynamo powered flash lights with 1 up to 3 leds; some recharge able batteries; some solar powered battery chargers, preferably those with full spectrum solar cells; some ordinary candles the older the better, old candles burn slower thus longer; a big box of matches; first aid gear.

        Instead of protecting your garden / field with cheap foil, Build your self a greenhouse from plastic tubes and sheets and raise your livestock (plants) say 1 yard (ca 1 meter) from the floor so they are well protected and place them in old truck tubes for example.

        In the Subtropics and Tropics and Deserts The green house can also use the heat from the sun to distill your contaminated water. The story on the watercone will probably give you an idea how. (see for the watercone: http://www.thewatercone.com/Index.html ) Regard the green house tent equal to the watercone and you will understand what I mean. (and or see: seawater green houses plans http://inhabitat.com/sahara-forest-project/ )

        Ak Malten, Pro Peaceful Energy Use

        • 2011-04-16 at 11:13

          Great additions, thanks!

    • 2011-04-13 at 20:10

      Distillation is not a good method for the removal of radioactive iodine from water. For carrier free radioactive iodine I would expect much of the radioactivity to steam distill with the water. I have already commented on my blog about how distillation will not work for iodine.

      For the cesium it is possible to use prussian blue to remove Cs from both humans and animals.

      http://markforeman.wordpress.com/2011/04/13/a-tale-of-two-cows/

      • 2011-04-13 at 20:28

        Yes, but only if the iodine was still in its metallic, elementary state. As explained, the probability of that being the case after it travelled miles and miles or thousands of miles in case of non-Japanese countries even, is rather slim. It will, although originally released by sublimation, be dissolved in the water as a ionic salt just like the Caesium. And hence it will not be in the steam but in the crystallic residue left after (full) distillation. If you have any information on still metallic iodine in rain water, please share, thanks.

        • 2011-04-14 at 19:11

          Much of the iodine in the air will be in the form of organic iodine, some will be as HOI and I2. Only about 19 % will be as particulate matter.

          See http://markforeman.wordpress.com/2011/04/14/iodine-in-the-air/

          I will have to check a bit further on the chemical make up of the iodine in rain water, you might want to read the SCOPE 50 report which is on the state of the art of radioecology after Chernobyl.

  4. 2011-04-12 at 20:24

    I am a little shocked at Rowantree’s spiderwort plant which changes colour when it gets a dose of radiation, I have never heard of a plant which will change colour at a low dose. The vast majority of colour changes which occur as a result of radiation require very large doses.

    I worry that covering the garden with foil will kill all the plants.

    I hold the view that anything which has shallow roots or lives by eating anything with a very shallow root system will be worse for cesium than plants with deeper roots. For example mushrooms tend to be one of the worst foods for cesium.

    • 2011-04-12 at 20:45

      Well type “spiderwort radiation” in a search engine and up come many links, e.g.
      http://www.sierrapotomac.org/W_Needham/Spiderwort_050626.htm
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tradescantia
      http://s6.zetaboards.com/Free_Thinkers/topic/8723852/2/
      http://www.survivalistboards.com/showthread.php?t=110561
      Yes, covering your garden may in one season, even if you pull it off between showers, affect your plants negatively although I suggest using transparent foil and maybe have rather a greenhouse effect. The question simply is: if there are longer-lived radionuclides that affect my plants for decades to come would I not wish next year and “ever after” to have covered them once “back then”. Everybody must make that choice based on a lot of parameters, not the least the real radiation in their particular area and its composition (short-lived vs. longer lived nuclides!).

      • 2011-04-12 at 21:05

        I have checked, and the spiderwort plant has been used as a test for the mutations caused by radiation.

        It is not a simple matter, is seems to be a plant version of the Ames test. You need to work with a microscope and the test takes days to do.

        So sadly I do not think you can plant the plant and then just look at the colour of it, I first thought the person was thinking of a plant which would change colour in seconds are a dose of gamma rays.

        The details are in the “Journal of Environmental Radioactivity”, 2005, volume 81, pages 143 to 153.

        • 2011-04-12 at 21:15

          Thanks for the information.
          Indeed it would have been too good to be true.

  5. Rowantree
    2011-04-12 at 13:26

    I’m not sure how this helps…. What do we water with? Isn’t the water out of the hose also contaminated because it’s rain water? I have a spiderwort plant in the garden. It’s suppose to detect radiation a very low levels if it’s stamens (which are purple) turn pink. I’m in Texas and really need the rain water. So can’t I just watch the plant or better yet get a geiger counter? Thanks for any feedback..

    • 2011-04-12 at 16:20

      Well, we need to always distinguish between two cases:
      a) can we do without surface water (to all intents and purposes rain water, although a rivulet near source is actually ground water)
      b) what does the water contain (longer-half-life Ceasium etc. or Iodine only).
      If Iodine, then after 32 days the Iodine-131 activity will be around one sixteenth of the original value. Caesium would not have “budged” noticeably, as Caesium-137 has a half-life of over 30 and Caesium-134 over two years. So in the latter case e.g. you reach one sixteenth after only eight years.
      If you compartmentalise your rain water as described in my “out of bottled water” post and rotate the supply, using oldest first, you can minimise iodine radiation by as much as explained there for tap water analogously.
      As for a Geiger counter: even I don’t own one …
      If you buy one and have no radiological training, I suggest to proceed as follows: take a bottle of tap water before radiation, a bottle of water from a shop and use for “calibration purposes”. Then whenever you measure e.g. rain water or leaves etc., then check against the “tick, tick …” from the “pure” sources that give you the original “background” radiation reading reliably. Then, if the rain water is three times as high (ticks three times as fast) then you now it has about three times the radiation in it. That’s better than trying to work out “absolute” doses if you’re not trained in the field. After all, we all know when to wear a jacket even if we have no thermometer to look at.
      As for the Ceasium: if you cover your garden with foil, but later use the collected rain water (from e.g. your drain pipes) and it should contain longer-lived nuclides such as the Caesium mentioned, you change the frypan for the fire, as you water your garden with about the same doses of radiation that you just prevented from seeping in by covering it with foil.
      There is no way around that but use ground water (from utility) should that happen or make do with what radiation you receive over the next decades …

  6. 2011-04-11 at 19:32

    In this blog it was written “Airborne caesium and other radioactive aerosols mostly are highly soluble salts which will eventually make their rounds into the rest of your grounds by diffusion.”

    While the vast majority of cesium compounds (eg CsCl, CsI, Cs2SO4, CsNO3) are water soluble I think this remark about the mobility of cesium is misleading. Cesium has a very high affinity for clay minerals, in many soils much of it will stay in the top layer for a very long time.

    This is not the good news news it might seem at first, in the case of plants with very shallow roots (mushrooms, grass and lichen) the plants will get a large fraction of the cesium. But by digging the garden or ploughing farmland the vast majority of cesium can be put well out of reach of the grass and other shallow rooted plants.

    I have already discussed some of the issues which relate to cesium in soil on my blog, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Countermeasures do exist which can reduce the impact of the cesium on gardening and farming.

  7. steveo
    2011-04-11 at 04:32

    Hey CM I posted a spreadsheet with what I think is good information on radiation.

    Check it out and let me know what you think.

    http://oahutrading.blogspot.com/p/japan-nuclear-information.html

  8. steveo
    2011-04-10 at 09:43

    2 great PDF downloads on the Nuclear Issues at Fukushima

    http://oahutrading.blogspot.com/p/japan-nuclear-information.html

  9. steveo
    2011-04-10 at 07:20

    Indeed, a plastic sheet of fair thickness, 3mil to 6 mil, even 8mil would be the best practical method.

  10. 2011-04-09 at 09:50

    Thanks for informacion. I have your blog open in:
    http://erbeben-earthquake-terremoto.blogspot.com/
    and international:Themen – Zweifelhaft oder Übernatürlich (1)
    [Links...]

    11:37 [http://erbeben-earthquake-terremoto.blogspot.com/]
    Wie man seinen Garten und Nahrung vor radioaktiver Verseuchung schützt
    Dann sollten Sie sich gegen radioaktive Niederschläge von Japan, in Ihren Boden vorbereiten.
    Weiterempfehlen
     Google translation into English
    http:www.net-news-global.com
    Angelika Spain

  11. 2011-04-08 at 17:51

    Thanks very much for this post. I have a question regarding our garden here in Washington state – it rains a LOT here…and we are in a rural area, nowhere near a storm drain, so managing sheets of foil filled with radioactive water seems a difficult and challenging proposition at best. Is there another alternative for protecting our gardens? I’m wondering if something like disposable puppy training pads might work – to absorb the rainfall, and make getting rid of it a little easier??? This would obviously be more costly than foil, so it’s not a perfect solution… What’s your take on this?

    • 2011-04-08 at 18:21

      Well I first had to look up “puppy training pads” :-) … launch pads I knew.
      To cut to the chase: anything absorbent will not absorb very much water. Lets say, you have one inch rainfall, then anything one inch thick can no way absorb it all, as there’s the absorbent to take account of. So for one inch rain you might need two inch high absorbent and so on. Then a square yard of that could easily weigh about 50 pounds or more for each inch of rain! I doubt that’s manageable or affordable.
      Even if you can’t reach a sewer with your discharge from the foil – try and (instead of the patches I mentioned) get it “over to one side” and let it drain into the soil there, using this part (a stretch of a tenth of the area of your patch or so, as long as the breadth of your garden for example) of your garden for flowers only. I don’t think you’ll be happy with absorbents. They shouldn’t have built these things (the power plants, not the garden plants or puppy pads …) in the first place …
      I don’t think Washington state will be affected by aerosols like Caesium etc., but rather more by the iodine that’s going to decay to one thousandth within eighty days from deposition (though these 80 days might begin again and again for a while as long as new stuff is being transferred). But you’d have to check with independent wheather and radiation sources what is actually being driven over from Japan by wind to your place.

      • 2011-04-08 at 19:38

        OK – thanks very much for your thoughtful reply – I really appreciate it! (heading out to get some aluminum foil today)

        • 2011-04-08 at 23:53

          Hi Christine – I would not use aluminium foil – it will not only break but also shut off the light completely (and be rather expensive). Rather take a not too thin plastic cover that’s transparent or translucent like you use for covering floors when renovating! I believe HomeDepot is one of the all-in-one shops to go to in the US.
          Make sure it doesn’t break when pulled, caught on a branch, rubbed over stones or, heavy with water, pulled over to the side to direct the flow.

  12. 2011-04-07 at 02:38

    Thank you for this helpful post. I’ve been worried about our garden and your advice makes sense…

    thanks!

  1. 2011-05-16 at 08:33
  2. 2011-04-20 at 19:18
  3. 2011-04-11 at 19:43

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