Monday, July 25, 2011

Japan: Eating Radiation Contamination



As was the case in the U.S. gulf seafood, Japan has prioritized economic impact over public health. Although farmers and local civic authorities may check for food contamination, Japan has no centralized system for checking radiation contamination (Takada, 2011 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-24/threat-to-japanese-food-chain-multiplies-as-cesium-contamination-spreads.html).

When conducted, testing often shows contamination. It is not surprising that high levels of radiation have been detected in Japanese food exports out of contaminated regions, particularly in tea and beef. For instance, radioactive cesium exceeding the Japanese government’s upper limits were found in Japanese black cattle shipped from a farm in the Fukushima prefecture in July of 2011 (“Testing System Urgently” 2011 http://mdn.mainichi.jp/perspectives/news/20110713p2a00m0na001000c.html).

Animals with radioactive emissions up to 100,000 counts per minute were considered safe by Japan’s health authorities. Approximately 12,000 cattle have been checked and shipped for human consumption. At 100,000 counts per minute, a human would require full-body decontamination (http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T110717002520.htm).

Dangerous radionuclides have also been found in high levels in sludge ash and sludge dewatering in Tokyo (http://translate.google.com/translate?act=url&hl=en&ie=UTF8&prev=_t&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=ja&tl=en&u=http://www.gesui.metro.tokyo.jp/oshi/infn0533.htm).



Japan has detected radiation levels 150 kilometers from the Daiichi nuclear plant that are as high as areas 50 kilometers from the plant (NHK “high levels of radioactivity” http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/21_06.html).

Citizens and local officials who conduct their own testing typically find much higher levels than those reported by the Japanese government. For example, a radiation survey reported in late July by Doshisha University and Kyoto Seika University of Fukushima City [in Fukushima Prefecture] found 56.9 microsieverts/hour at an elementary school and 20.8 microsieverts/hour at the Fukushima Prefectural Government building (Ex-SKF http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/2011/07/radiation-in-fukushima-city-order-of.html).


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