Tests on children for possible radioactive exposure near Japan’s damaged Fukushima nuclear plant show no initial dangerous doses, according to the IAEA.
Japanese authorities have informed the IAEA that on March 24, examinations of the thyroid glands in 66 children (14 of which are infants) were conducted near the evacuation area around the Fukushima nuclear plant.
The exams were conducted at the Kawamata Town Health Center (40-50 kilometres from Fukushima Daiichi NPP) and Kawamata Town Yamakiya Branch Office (30-40 kilometres from Fukushima Daiichi NPP).
According to a 25 March 2011 Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency press release, the results of the examinations indicated that the dose rate “of all the 66 children including 14 infants from 1 to 6 years old had no big difference from the level of background and was at the level of no problem in light of the view of Nuclear Safety Commission.”
Relatedly, since yesterday, additional data has been made available by the Japanese authorities concerning radionuclide concentrations in milk, vegetables and drinking water.
Levels of iodine-131 exceeded levels recommended by the Japanese authorities in five raw milk samples taken in Fukushima Prefecture, and exceeded levels of iodine-131 and cesium-137 in one vegetable (mizuna) sampled in Ibaraki Prefecture.
Monitoring of drinking water is on-going, iodine-131 in drinking water was detected in 13 prefectures, caesium-137 was detected in 6 of the 47 prefectures. During the period of 19 to 23 March, all results remained below the limits set by the Japanese government. However, permissible levels of iodine-131 were exceeded in drinking water samples taken in the Fukushima and Ibaraki Prefectures and in Tokyo from 17 to 23 March. More positively, the iodine-131 levels in drinking water for Tokyo are now below limits for consumption for infants recommended by the Japanese authorities and restrictions have been lifted.
As a result of food monitoring where contamination exceeded the levels recommended by the Japanese authorities, current restrictions on the distribution of milk are in place in 2 prefectures (Fukushima, Ibaraki) and on the distribution of certain vegetables in 4 prefectures (Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma). This regulatory approach is to prevent food contaminated with radioactivity above these limits entering the market and thereby, ensure the safety of foods. On 23 March, the Japanese authorities requested sampling of agricultural products in 6 neighbouring prefectures (Miyagi, Yamagata, Saitama, Chiba, Niigata and Nagano). This request for further food monitoring covers the same types of foods currently under restriction.
The joint FAO/IAEA food safety mission is currently travelling to Japan.
On 25th March, the IAEA radiation monitoring team made additional measurements at distances from 34 to 62 km from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. At these locations, the dose rate ranged from 0.73 to 8.8 microsievert per hour. At the same locations, results of beta-gamma contamination measurements ranged from 0.07 to 0.96 Megabecquerel per square metre.