Cesium-137 found in urine of child near Tokyo, despite mother’s stringent efforts at radiation protection — “Mixture of shock and a feeling that of course this is the case”

Published: September 5th, 2011 at 5:33 am ET
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Contamination Outside Fukushima, Asia Pacific Journal by Matthew Penney, September 4, 2011:

The Japanese government has taken the position that no one outside of the vicinity of the Fukushima Daiichi plant is likely to suffer health effects from the radiation that has been released since March. Many Japanese, especially parents of young children, are doubtful.

[The August 22 issue of AERA magazine, published by Asahi Shimbun, ran a feature on contamination in the Kanto region which] begins by reiterating a point that has been made frequently by critics of the Japanese government – that we simply do not know what effects low levels of radiation and the presence of isotopes in the human body will have on long-term health.

The piece tells the story of a mother in Saitama Prefecture who, in the absence of direct government support, arranged to have a sample of her daughter’s urine tested. The test indicated that despite stringent efforts to protect her fifth grader from exposure to contaminated food and airborne radiation, the result was 0.4 Bq of Cesium 137 per kilogram of urine. Cesium 137, with a half-life of just over 30 years, is one of main radioactive isotopes released from the Fukushima Daiichi plant. “I felt a mixture of shock and a feeling that of course this is the case”, laments the girl’s mother.

Measures the mother took to protect daughter from exposure:

  • Bought produce from Kyushu – the southernmost of Japan’s major islands and the furthest from Fukushima
  • Bought 80 eggs at a time from a mail order company in Japan’s far south
  • Used bottled water exclusively
  • Washes clothes, umbrellas, and the walls and floors of her home daily

Published: September 5th, 2011 at 5:33 am ET
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