On cars and radiation

Here's what you need to know
by Ferman Lao | Mar 22, 2011

Hi, Ferman!

With Fukushima being in the news often lately, should we be concerned about how radioactivity will affect our cars? What are the effects of radioactivity in cars? What should we do to protect our cars if radioactivity hits the Philippines?

Thanks.

Mr. Hernandez

Hi, Mr. Hernandez

To your first question, I would say a huge resounding "NO." The second gets a "What do I care?" Those who ask the third question will hear "Nothing."

Why, you ask?

Quite frankly the average amount of radiation any one of us is exposed to every year is about 0.36rem. Rem is short for "roentgen equivalent man." It's defined as "a unit of effective absorbed dose of ionizing radiation in human tissue, equivalent to one roentgen of X-rays."  Eighty percent of that supposedly comes from natural sources while the remaining 20 percent comes from X-ray machines and other sources of radiation like, say, a fallout from the last time some would-be World Power did some field testing with nukes.

Now, I wouldn't know what a rem is even if it bit me on my behind. But from what I heard, being zapped with 500rem in one go is pretty bad. This will put you at risk of not being able to attend the next car show, unless it's being held in the spiritual world. On the other hand being exposed to only five percent of that will mean that we won't need to worry about having children--at least temporarily--if we're lucky. Bump up the rem juice quadruple-fold and we'll be too nauseous to worry about our cars or make us look like we just stepped out of a hyper tanning salon minus the tanning effect.

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For the record, the radiation levels at ground zero in Fukushima shot up to 0.8rem per hour after one of the explosions in their reactors. That's more than twice the amount we're exposed to annually, per hour! Now you can see why I answered your second question that way. Of course, given a large enough dose of rads, the electronics in our cars will be rendered inert and non-functional, at least for a while, if movies and TV shows are to be believed.

Finally, with much more important issues like survival to be concerned about, I could hardly care less on how to keep my car radiation-free. I'm sure that the strongest car shampoo in your neighborhood car wash is barely going to make a dent in the radioactive fallout that may have attached itself to a vehicle--literally making it a "HOT" car. I'll probably be better off changing cars and having the glow in the dark one being relegated to radioactive waste bin. I'm sure you'll forgive me if it seems like a better idea to finish up what we are doing to survive rather than worry about how our cars will look like should Fukushima decide to want to go south.

Best regards,
Ferman Lao

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