Radioactive iodine found in breast milk near Tokyo — Mother of 8-month old baby has 980 pCi/kg

Published: April 20th, 2011 at 11:07 am ET


Small amounts of radioactive iodine found in breast milk, Kyodo, April 20, 2011:

A citizen’s group concerned about the impact on mothers and babies of the radioactive leaks from a crippled nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture said Wednesday that small amounts of radioactive iodine have been found in the breast milk of four women living east or northeast of Tokyo.

Of the samples provided by the four women, the breast milk of the mother of an 8-month-old baby in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, contained the highest level of 36.3 becquerels [27 picoCuries = 1 becquerel] of radioactive iodine per kilogram, but no radioactive cesium was found, the group said. …

Read the report here.

See also: Amount of radiation in 3 gallons of milk from Hilo, Hawaii surpasses annual maximum contaminant level set by EPA

Published: April 20th, 2011 at 11:07 am ET


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7 comments to Radioactive iodine found in breast milk near Tokyo — Mother of 8-month old baby has 980 pCi/kg

  • Glowing potato

    I have to say if you are pregnant, nursing or have young children and you live in Japan you need to GTFO at any cost. Starting about a month ago. Look up bio accumulation.

  • Monitor X

    There must be a mix-up with the numbers and dimensions. 1 picoCurie = 37 Bq ( The EPA’s limit is 3 pCi per liter of water ( Also, it doesn’t make sense that they measured the mother’s milk in kg instead of liter. I’m not implying there’s a safe level of radionuclide intake, just that if it is 37 Bq/L, that it’s still below the EPA’s limit.

    • SciFri

      1 liter of water = 1 kilogram
      I imagine 1 liter milk is about the same.

    • Arizonan

      The EPA maximum contaminant level (MCL) for I-131 in cow milk for human consumption is 3 picocuries per litre. That is a low level in case of ongoing consumption, which apparently we are all going to get. The FDA’s “Derived Intervention Level” for iodine-131 in milk is 4700 picoCuries per liter. I think that means the level at which action should immediately be taken? According to their rules? Neither level is “safe.” If we follow the calculations given below, then 980 picoCuries (mu-c) per litre = 36.26 Becquerels per litre. An infant drinking one litre of milk contaminated with 36.26 Bq/l (x0.11)would have an internal dose of 3.98 microsieverts. I think this means, and please fell free to check my calculations, that out of one billion infants, who each drank a litre of breast milk with 980 picocuries of I-131, about 39.88 or 40 of them would develop cancer. Or would it be 400? It is a statistical calculation of risk, using very progressive dose-effect correlations. That is, they are actually based on observed data, not some physics major’s estimates of energy in a litre of water. Someone needs to check that calculation, please!

      I can’t even believe talking about radioactive milk has been this normalized!

      “Calculating doses from Iodine.
      Take the figure for Becquerels per litre (Bq/l). (There is information on the internet. LLRC has no resources for monitoring it all). If, as in USA, the radioactivity levels are expressed in picoCuries (pCi), convert pCi to Becquerels (Bq) by multiplying by 0.037.
      To convert a dietary intake into a dose multiply the Becquerels by 0.11 and the answer will be the dose in microSieverts. For example, if a litre of water is contaminated with 0.5 Bq, drinking it will give 0.5 x 0.11 = 0.055microSv. (This uses the ECRR adult dose coefficient for Iodine 131 which is slightly different to the ICRP dose coefficient – see ECRR 2010 p. 244).
      The cancer risk associated with this dose is small. It can be calculated by dividing the dose in microSv by 1 billion. For the above example this means that if a billion people each drank a litre of water contaminated with 0.5 Bq then 5.5 of them would develop cancer over a period of 50 years. The individual person would increase his or her chances of getting cancer by 1 in 182 million. (This uses the ECRR cancer risk coefficient of 0.1 per Sievert which is different to the ICRP risk coefficient 0.05 per Sievert – see ECRR 2010 p. 180).
      Note that this calculation is for a single intake. Iodine 131 loses half of its radioactivity in 8.04 days. This means that if your water supply comes from rainfall and if the rain becomes contaminated in a single episode the radioactivity will decay to 1/16th of its original concentration during a month and so on. That’s assuming no further releases from the reactor affect your region.”

  • Noah

    Ingested Radiation and babies

    When it comes to ingestion of radioactive particles there is no safe levels. More, so for infants and gestating babies (aka, fetus).

    As difficult as it may seem, the only reasonable course of action for a pregnant mother is moving away from the contamination.
    As a husband, like Joseph I would take Mary to safety.

    There is no escaping ingesting radioactive particles once it is in the food and water. That moment is upon us here in the northern hemisphere.

    If it were my family…

    I would not even hesitate, I would be in transit to an extreme southern hemisphere country with my pregnant wife.

  • Maybe they are measuring the milk as a liquid and the mother’s body as a solid?

  • 67Mopar

    Don’t worry mothers… “Radiation is good for you.”