The streaming map above depicts currents of air and not clouds of radiation so don’t freak out. The purpose for showing this to show how the radioactive particles might get blown around. Keep in mind that as the air moves west to east, the amount of radiation gets less and less.
The cloud of radiation that has already been released from the failed nuke plant in Japan will reach New York but will it cause any harm to anyone? Basically the answer is, yes it will, but nobody will know about it for many years to come. Of course there will be cases of cancer that will be caused by that specific radioactive material, but such cases will fall into stats for what is normal for that type of cancer. Many years from now a graph will show that particular cancers were on the rise in a particular area, but that will be after the fact. In essence, unless the situation in Japan gets worse, the impact will be low — low of course unless you happen to be the one who gets the cancer. Keep in mind that cancer is not the only disease that radiation can cause in the long run, but the radioactive elements in question here are cancer causers mostly.
So as the cloud gets blown from west to east it gradually fades away and gets whipped up by the rotation of the earth much like food coloring in a slow blender. The heavier elements in the cloud or plume fall to earth sooner and the lighter ones travel greater distances. Particles that might get projected high into the atmosphere travel far and stay suspended for a long time.
The problem I see is that radioactive particles will get carried on human beings clothes and these people travel on airplanes. Eventually small amounts will be everywhere just like there are small amounts of cocaine on just about all paper currency — that sounds like a joke but it’s not — look it up.
New York is made up of skyscrapers and believe it or not, the granite that makes up most of these buildings actually emits small doses of radiation. It’s barely noticeable but it’s there. This is not meant to turn you all into nuke freak-outs, but just know that somebody, somewhere will get some kind of cancer at sometime and the cause will have been that they were exposed to some of the nuclear debris that blew over from Japan.
I don’t totally trust that the whole truth is being told but that doesn’t mean we’re all in grave danger. There would be a far greater danger if millions of people started to panic en masse. That would be nasty.
Veterinarians who go around giving portable xrays to farm animals usually wear a little radiation gauge on their vest pocket. So do doctors and nurses in hospitals. Maybe we all should have one of them or find out how to get them. They work kind of like the thermometer you put on your kid’s forehead when he/she is sick. After you wear them for a few days or weeks you get an idea of how much radiation you’ve been exposed to. Right now, people in the USA have bigger problems than radiation but that cloud will eventually leave its prints all over the world and you don’t want to be the dummy with a lung full of radioactivity that was “made in Japan.”