Japan is dangerously contaminated by radioactivity over a far larger area than previously reported by TEPCO and the central government according to new reports from multiple sources. The prefectural government of Iwate released new data that shows radioactive contamination of grass exceeds safety standards at a distance of 90 to 125 miles from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plants.
The prefectural government found on Tuesday radioactive cesium exceeding the limit of 300 becquerels per kilogram in grass collected from pastures in four areas, including Tono and Otsuchi. The areas are located about 150 to 200 kilometers north of the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Science Magazine reports that Japanese scientists have become so concerned about the health of their children that they have initiated their own radiation monitoring program and made their own maps. The results are shocking.
Parents in Tokyo's Koto Ward enlisted the help of Tomoya Yamauchi, a radiation physicist at Kobe University, to measure radiation in their neighborhood. Local government officials later joined the act, ordering radiation checks of schoolyards and other public places and posting the results on their Web sites. An anonymous volunteer recently plotted the available 6300 data points on a map. And Yukio Hayakawa, a volcanologist at Gunma University, turned that plot into a radiation contour map.
It shows one wide belt of radiation reaching 225 kilometers south from the stricken reactors to Tokyo and another extending to the southwest. Within those belts are localized hot spots, including an oval that encloses northeast Tokyo and Kashiwa and neighboring cities in Chiba Prefecture.
Radiation in this zone is 0.4 microsieverts per hour, or about 3.5 millisieverts per year. That is a fraction of the radiation found throughout much of Fukushima Prefecture, which surrounds the nuclear power plant. But it is still 10 times background levels and even above the 1-millisievert-per-year limit for ordinary citizens set by Japanese law. The health effects of such low doses are not clear and are passionately debated. But it is known that children are more susceptible to radiation than adults, and few parents want to take chances with a child's health. Besides, “The law should be observed,” Yamauchi says. Kyo Kageura, an information scientist at the University of Tokyo, says there should be a public discussion of the issue, “based on a scrupulous presentation of the data, including to what extent the 1-millisievert limit can be achieved.”
A map of citizen measured radiation levels shows radioactivity is distributed in a complex pattern reflecting the mountainous terrain and the shifting winds across a broad area of Japan north of Tokyo which is in the center of the of bottom of the map.
Radiation limits begin to be exceeded at just above 0.1 microsieverts/ hour blue. Red is about fifty times the civilian radiation limit at 5.0 microsieverts/hour. Because children are much more sensitive than adults, these results are a great concern for parents of young children in potentially affected areas.
A very disturbing report about parents concerned about possible radiation sickness in children appeared in a local Japanese paper.
Tokyo Shinbun (paper edition only, 6/16/2011) reports that many children in Koriyama City in Fukushima Prefecture, 50 kilometers from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, are suffering inexplicable nosebleed, diarrhea, and lack of energy since the nuke plant accident.
I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the report or the translation, but given the data collected by concerned scientists reported in the map above, it may be credible.
What's happening to children in Koriyama City in Fukushima right now? Nosebleed, diarrhea, lack of energy - "Effect of radiation unknown" says the doctor
Report by Ao Ideta, Tokyo Shinbun, June 16, 2011
On June 12, a non-profit organization called "The Bridge to Chernobyl" (チェルノブイリへのかけはし) held a free clinic in Koriyama City in Fukushima Prefecture, 50 kilometers [west] from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.
Worried about the effect of radiation exposure, 50 families brought their children to see the doctor.
A 39-year-old mother of two told the doctor that her 6-year-old daughter had nosebleed everyday for 3 weeks in April. For 1 week, the daughter bled copiously from both nostrils. The mother said their doctor told her it was just a seasonal allergy from pollen. Her other child, 2-year-old son, had nosebleed from end of April to May.
The pediatrician from The Bridge to Chernobyl, Yurika Hashimoto, told the mother it was hard to determine whether the nosebleed was the result of radiation exposure, but they should have the blood test done for white blood cells. It was important to keep record, the doctor advised.
The family move out temporarily from Koriyama City to Saitama Prefecture after the March 11 earthquake, but came back to Koriyama at the end of March.
The mother said about 10% of pupils at the elementary school have left Koriyama. Each school in Koriyama decides whether to have the pupils drink local milk that the school provide, which tends to concentrate radioactive materials. In her daughter's school, it is up to the parents to decide. But the mother said she let the daughter drink milk with other children because the daughter didn't want to get excluded by other children for not drinking milk with them.
A 40-year-old father of a 4-month-old baby daughter was so worried that he never let the daughter go outside, even though she didn't exhibit any ill effect of radiation so far. He said, "I'm so worried. I don't know how to defend ourselves."
I [the reporter of the story] used the radiation monitoring device over the low bush near the place where this event was being held. It measured 2.33 microsieverts/hour. As I raised the device higher, the radiation level went down to 1 microsievert/hour. The highest air radiation measured in Koriyama City was 8.26 microsieverts/hour on March 15. Since middle of May, it has been about 1.3 microsievert/hour.
If you live one year in a place with 1.3 microsievert/hour radiation, the cumulative radiation will exceed 11 millisieverts. [And that's only the external exposure.]
Note: I generally do not do long quotes but the translation was made available by a blogger so that the world would know what's happening in Japan.