March 16 (Reuters) - Levels of radioactivity are low in places away from the immediate vicinity of Japan's quake-stricken Fukushima Daiichi power plant, but people remain worried about sudden exposure to large volumes of airborne radiation.
Here are some measures people can take to protect themselves from identified radiation sources:
-- Evacuation and distance. Those closest to the radiation are at greatest risk of exposure and the greater the distance away, the lower the risk. Japan has asked people living within 20 km of the power plant to evacuate and those between 20 km and 30 km away to stay indoors. People living farther away are at lower risk than those who live nearby.
-- Sheltering. The best precaution from a radioactive cloud is to stay indoors and minimise any ventilation that might bring in contaminated air. Doors and windows should be closed.
-- Washing. When a person is exposed to radioactive substances, like contaminated dust, liquid or aerosols, these can be washed off the skin or clothes with soap and water.
-- Supplements. Potassium iodide tablets can saturate the thyroid gland and prevent the uptake of radioactive iodine. When given before or shortly after exposure, this can reduce the risk of cancer in the long term.
-- Diet. Radiation destroys essential vitamins, fatty acids, calcium and neuro-hormones. Eating plenty of natural, fresh, organic and unprocessed foods will protect and restore these elements.
-- Shielding. Barriers of lead, concrete or water give good protection from high levels of penetrating radiation such as gamma rays. Intensely radioactive materials are often stored or handled under water, or by remote control in rooms constructed of thick concrete or lined with lead.
Sources: World Health Organisation, World Nuclear Association
(Complied by Tan Ee Lyn; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)