The Pakistan Meteorological Department has rejected the possibility of radiation from Japan affecting Pakistan in the form of acid rain.
“There are no chances of radiation in Japan affecting people here,” said Pakistan Meteorological Department Director-General Arif Mahmood. “Between December and April, we receive the westerly wave while Japan is in the north east, so it cannot possibly affect us.”
Forwarded text messages have been making rounds since national and international media reported that Japan’s nuclear reactors were emitting radiation. These messages also say that there will be four to six hours of rain in the Philippines, an event that has also not occurred. “If it has not affected countries around Japan, how will it affect us?” Mahmood reasoned.
FRCP Consultant and Physician Dr Maqbool H Jafari doubts that radiation from Japan can create health problems here through acid rain. “We have to see how likely this is. There is too much distance between us and Japan for the radiation to affect us,” he said. However, acid rain can cause Alopecia – a condition that causes hair loss from the head and body. Acid rain is very bad for hair and hair should be kept covered to prevent disease, he said.
Dr Jafari said that although there can be all sorts of reactions to the body, cancer is extremely unlikely to occur because it only happens following long exposure to radiation. “If the reactor completely bursts and radiation cannot be contained, only then can it affect us. We can hope that does not happen,” he said.
The text message warning people of radiation from Japan affecting Pakistan says: There was a nuclear blast [at] 4:30pm [on] Sunday in Fukushima, Japan. If it rains today or in the next few days, do not go out in the rain. If you get caught [in the rain], use an umbrella or a rain coat even if it is only a drizzle. Radioactive particles which may cause Alopecia or even cancer may.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2011.