Invisible Dust

London | Wednesday 17 October
Pollution level: Moderate

High Radiation levels detected in Tokyo

A child holds a bottle of emergency long shelf-life mineral water distributed at a nursery school in Tokyo March 24, 2011. Shops in Japan's capital ran out of bottled water on Thursday after a warning of radiation danger for babies from a damaged nuclear plant where engineers are battling the world's worst atomic crisis since Chernobyl. Engineers are trying to stabilise the Fukushima nuclear facility nearly two weeks after an earthquake and tsunami battered the complex and devastated northeast Japan. REUTERS/Kyodo (JAPAN - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT) THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS

Authorities in Tokyo have warned that very young children in the Japanese capital should not drink tap water after it was found to contain twice the levels of radioactive iodine considered safe for infants.

The warning came as the spread of radioactivity continued through the food supply in the region surrounding the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Tests conducted by the Tokyo metropolitan government identified 210 becquerels of iodine-131 per 1kg of tap water in the city, more than twice the limit of 100 becquerels considered safe for infants.

Tokyo’s water bureau said babies and infants under the age of one should not be given tap water, but added that radiation levels did not pose an immediate risk to adults. “This is without doubt, an effect of the Fukushima Daiichi plant,” a metropolitan government official said.

The capital’s governor, Shintaro Ishihara, said the levels were not hazardous to health, but advised parents of children aged under one not to use tap water with milk formula.

Earlier this week, some residents living near the nuclear plant, 150 miles north of Tokyo, were told not to drink tap water owing to abnormal levels of radioactive iodine, which can cause thyroid cancer if ingested in large enough quantities.

In addition to the infected water supply, the Japanese prime minister, Naoto Kan, instructed authorities in Fukushima to issue a ban on the consumption of certain agricultural products grown in the prefecture after radioactivity exceeding legal limits was found in 11 types of vegetable.

The list of contaminated produce includes spinach, komatsuna leaves, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. The government has also suspended shipment of the vegetables.

The health ministry detected 82,000 becquerels of radioactive caesium – 164 times the limit permitted by law, in kukitachina leaves from Motomiya in Fukushima prefecture, as well as 15,000 becquerels of radioactive iodine – more than seven times the limit.

Contamination has spread to neighboring prefectures, with Ibaraki told to suspend shipments of milk and parsley.

The Japanese government estimates that the earthquake and tsunami caused damage totalling 16tn yen ($185bn) to 25tn yen, making it the world’s costliest natural disaster. It will have severe consequences for the economy.


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