I'm actually in the radiation measurement business, so I suppose I ought to
reply.  However, this is my perspective as an individual and not
representative of my employer.  Also, this is kind of dire so if that is
not what you want to read today, consider yourself forewarned.

First and foremost let's hope it doesn't go there.  But based on your "if
something dire actually happens" premise, I think the following
considerations are relevant.

1. All indications are that the North Koreans do not (yet) have weapons
that can survive re-entry or reach the continental US.  This reduces the
likelihood that a nuclear device will be detonated within the US.  (It does
nothing to alleviate the pain and suffering of any who live where a device
is detonated, and I'm not trying to minimize that, but health and safety
tips for that population are outside my expertise.  It also does not
eliminate the possibility of a high-atmospheric detonation - see 5 below.)
2. Assuming devices (theirs or ours) are detonated in Asia, there will
definitely be atmospheric fallout.  Depending on the scale of the bombing,
this might be significantly worse that what was seen during WWII, or it
might be similar.  However, the levels of radiation reaching the US would
in any realistic scenario I can think of be not an immediate threat to life
and health.
3. There are two families isotopes of significant impact: iodine and
   A. For iodine, the largest risk to health will be in the first ~30 days
due to the very short half life.  Iodine accumulates in the thyroid, and
one of the common forms of protection is the consumption of potassium
iodide (KI) tablets (nutritionally similar to salt substitute and possibly
better for you) to ensure that non-radioactive iodine dominates in the
bloodstream and the bulk of any radioactive iodine consumed is excreted
again.  Since KI tablets have a nearly infinite shelf life (as long as
they're kept dry) there isn't any good reason not to stock up on these.
(Although as of today, you might very well find the sellers are suddenly
hiking their prices.)
  B. For cesium (Cs137) the issue is that it has an extremely long
half-life, and will be bioaccumulated (it is chemically interchangeable
with sodium) and do damage over a long period.  In this case, the best
recommendation I know of is eating as low as you can on the food chain, and
local.  (Hah, see how this relates to Sustainable Tompkins!?)  The former
means that you're not eating things that ate things that ate things with
more and more Cs137 being concentrated all the way up the food chain.  The
latter means you're getting food from a part of the world that is
relatively far away from where we've assumed the detonation has occurred.
I'm not certain whether consuming additional salt (NaCl) or potassium
iodide may be protective in this situation, but I might speculate that if
the body has a surplus of sodium and potassium, it might excrete more
4. The recommendations above are mostly related to the fission products,
which are largely similar to what was seen out of Chernobyl and Fukashima.
Our weapons are (most likely) combined fission/fusion devices, while it's
less clear that this complex mechanism has been effectively developed by
North Korea.  I don't have nearly as much information about what is
typically produced by the fusion portion, other than neutrons.  Neutrons
are a strictly local phenomenon - once they slow down enough, they will
generally be absorbed into water, air, etc. and if they don't, they're not
able to do any damage either (because that absorption is how they'd do
damage to the body).  I wouldn't say that we can completely ignore this,
but it's not likely to create the same kind of medium-term byproducts that
fission will.
5. We can't completely discount the atmospheric or stratospheric detonation
of a nuclear device.  This would also produce fallout which would be much
more uniform and widespread - both of which mean less concentration in any
one area.  But there's another immediate impact to consider here, and that
is the EMP pulse that could disable (temporarily or permanently) any
sufficiently nearby and unshielded electrical/electronic equipment within
line-of-sight.  (If you saw the movie "The Day After" you'll recognize this
concept.)  That could mean massive disruption to satellites - presumably
the military ones are shielded, but likely most public communications,
weather, etc. satellites are not explicitly protected because of the huge
cost of sending any extra weight into space.  There could also be a
significant impact on infrastructure in nearby Asian countries, so for
example factories in South Korea or Japan might be shut down due to power
grid outages, rather than due to nuclear radiation.
6. Outside of my area of expertise: I would expect massive disruptions to
the financial markets if a nuclear device were actually detonated in
warfare.  Also I would be almost surprised if this wasn't used as an excuse
to declare a state of emergency and a power grab by the federal
government/executive branch.  How you think makes sense to prepare for
these I would leave to your own discretion, but I wouldn't ignore these
risks - food is hard to buy without money or transportation.


On Wed, Aug 9, 2017 at 9:28 AM, Patricia Haines <levelgreen2...@gmail.com>

> Beyond saving seeds, if something dire actually happens, how do we manage?
> Health and safety tips? Not to be alarmist, just thinking ahead to what
> might be possible.

To dither or deliver/Decent deeds don't deceive
Decide to override/Poor programming
Gracious gratitude/Sprinkled and spread
Leading lives of love/And conscience instead
-- My Love

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