February 12, 2014 – Jim Stone
Becquerels are total decays that occur within a specified time. Typical becquerel references are per hour or second, and per metric ton or per kilogram. 3 becquerels per kilogram is the same as 3,000 becquerels per cubic meter. Since for most isotopes, safe drinking levels are pegged at 10,000 per hour per litre, it means that there have to be over a million decays per hour in a cubic meter of water before it is considered by anyone to be within 10 to the negative fourth of what would really be a safe level.
This document from the World Health Organization pretty much destroys the Fuku Pacific fear porn.
This document from the world health organization www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/GDW9rev1and2.pdf outlines what are universally acceptable radiation levels in drinking water, with “max safe” at 10 to the negative fourth lower than what nuclear engineers say will be safe. This document defines becquerels as decays PER SECOND. So in becquerels per hour, one becquerel in this document equals 3600 decays per hour. Depending on the isotope, up to 36,000 decays per hour per litre can occur before the radiation even reaches a level that is 10 to the negative fourth of what happens in average global background radiation. This means that even at 36,000 decays per hour per litre, many isotopes are a thousand times below a safe level. Given the dates quoted in this document, it is very safe to say that Fukushima had nothing to do with the numbers here.
Becquerels should not be used as a reference in the everyday world. The measurement is so small that huge numbers seem scary when they often mean nothing.