The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.
NEW YORK (
) -- In times of extreme emotion, it can be productive to take a step back and analyze the numbers. On the sixth day of this
doctors have tested radiation levels in approximately 150 people who were in close vicinity of the Fukushima Daiichi site.
Authorities have taken measures to decontaminate 23 people according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The population was evacuated in a radius of 12 miles. People within 18 miles have been asked to remain indoors. The latest radiation readings in Fukushima showed a drop to 60 microsieverts per hour. To put that kind of exposure in context, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission allows dose limits of 10,000 microsieverts per nuclear event. The average American receives annual
exposure of 6,200 microsieverts
Investors need to understand how to separate a human crisis from an economic crisis. The Japan tragedy will be limited to a human crisis. These kinds of numbers are not worthy of widespread economic fear.
>> Japan Quake: Impact on Markets Limited
What is our worst case scenario? After the explosion at Chernobyl, the biggest nuclear power plant disaster of all time, 28 firefighters and emergency workers died from acute radiation sickness in the first three months. Ten years after the Chernobyl event, the U.N. released a 1,200-page report pointing out that there were 1,000 cases of leukemia in the village right next to Chernobyl and 998 of them were cured. Chernobyl totally exploded, it had no containment building, the
fear that the cloud of radiation would kill
tens of thousands of people and deform children never materialized.
I have lost count of the number of sensationalized media headlines that are doing their part to sell content. Very few, if any, of the actual stories are as dire as the headlines suggest. When we're talking about 23 people getting decontaminated and an evacuation region of 12 miles, there is no reason to overreact.
It's interesting to watch the media skew the public's sense of reality. Allow me to enlighten your perspective. Did you know that 37,000 people in the U.S. die of flu-related causes every year? Do you want to know how many people die in the world every day? According to the 2010 World Population Data Sheet, we lose 156,000 people every 24 hours. Over 56 million people die every year and yet somehow the economy keeps on ticking.