Japan

Japan to give dosimeters to children living near Fukushima

Monday, July 04, 2011 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: dosimeters, Japan, health news

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(NaturalNews) In an effort to keep track of how much radiation they are being exposed to, the Japanese government plans to give children living near the Fukushima nuclear complex radiation dosimeters.

City officials from Fukushima, some 40 miles from the plant which was crippled following a March 11 9.0 earthquake and resultant tsunami, said they will be handing out about 34,000 dosimeters to kids aged 4-15 for three months beginning in September.

An official with the city's education board told Agence France Presse that although residents are located outside the government's 12-mile no-entry zone, many are still concerned about radiation exposure.

"There have been fixed-spot radiation measurements but parents and citizens are concerned about individual exposure," the official said. "We also believe the distribution of dosimeters will help ease parents' worries if they confirm their children's exposure does not pose health risks."

Since the plant was damaged, Japan has raised the legal radiation exposure limit for both children and adults from one to 20 millisieverts. Experts say children run the greatest risk from over-exposure to radiation because, since they are still growing, they are much more prone to genetic defects and developing cancers, such as thyroid cancer, and because since they are young they will have more time to develop long-term problems.

Fukushima city isn't the only Japanese community distributing the dosimeters. The city of Date, located just outside the 12-mile exclusion zone, announced last week it would distribute them to about 8,000 pre-school, elementary and junior high school children.

The moves come after officials discovered trace amounts of radiation on children living in the area near the plant.

Officials said they tested the urine of 10 children living in the same area as the plant and all 10 samples came back positive for caesium-134 and caesium-137, both radioactive isotopes. Analysts believe the findings will fuel more concern about excessive radiation exposure caused by the damaged plant.

The findings also coincided with the government's recommendation that 113 more families evacuate from Date, after an additional four locations were identified as radiation "hot spots," the London Daily Telegraph said.

Since the accident there have been ongoing concerns about excessive amounts of radiation escaping from damaged reactors, with some saying the level of radiation that has leaked approached the amount of fallout from the Chernobyl disaster in the former U.S.S.R. in April 1986.

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