Posts Tagged radiation

Caesium in rice test results by prefecture

From another Tweet (@Kontan_Bigcat), a link to a chart giving the latest (Sep. 1) results of testing for radioactivity in rice (Japanese only).  The limit set by the government is 20 Bq/kg. The chart lists the prefectures starting with the ones with rice at less than 1Bq/kg. Testing is for Cs-134 and Cs-137.  There are also links to pages explaining the rationale for setting the limit at 20Bq/kg, and other related resources.


【 1 Bq/kg以下】(合計 2 Bq/kg以下)

岐阜県 (検出下限: Cs-134、Cs-137 各 1 Bq/kg)

兵庫県 (検出下限: Cs-134、Cs-137 各 1 Bq/kg)

山口県 (検出限界: Cs-134、Cs-137 各 0.5 Bq/kg)

via TwitLonger — When you talk too much for Twitter.

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Fukushima schoolchildren get dosimeters 福島の小学校。新学期で登校して …

Via Tweeter @yoshida1028, a report (from NHK news, but I haven’t found the original source) that primary school children in Fukushima (city? Or prefecture?) will be given radiation dosimeters. Yoshida comments that thus children are doubling up as nuclear power-station workers. A teacher is quoted as saying, “If these dosimeters help protect the children (then they’re a good idea)”, to which Yoshida comments, “Protect the children? Come off it!  This country is going insane.” Or is this an example of local initiative?


via Twitter / @yoshida1028: NHKお昼のニュース。福島の小学校。新学期で登校して ….

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34 spots top Chernobyl evacuation standard : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri)

Update: Fukushima prefecture has created a new website with information about the dangers of radiation (mouse-tip to Lenz Blog). The website includes a map, government pamphlets and FAQs about radioactive risks. Below is from the Daily Yomiuri:

Soil at 34 spots in six Fukushima Prefecture municipalities has been contaminated with levels of radioactive cesium higher than the standard used for forcible evacuations after the Chernobyl disaster, it has been learned.

According to a soil contamination map submitted at a study meeting of the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, six municipalities recorded more than 1.48 million becquerels of cesium 137 per square meter–the standard used for forced resettlement after the 1986 Chernobyl accident.

The 34 spots are in no-entry and expanded evacuation zones around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

via 34 spots top Chernobyl evacuation standard : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri).

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Greenpeace monitoring effort | Lenz Blog

Greenpeace wants schools in Fukushima closed because of radiation. They had a radiation measuring team doing some monitoring in schools there, finding levels of radiation exceeding the “international 1 mSv/y maximum allowed” in many places.

While I don’t agree with them regarding the safety levels, I think it is a good thing they are doing this monitoring and publishing their results.

via Greenpeace monitoring effort | Lenz Blog.

As far as radiation-readings are concerned, I think the more the merrier. Many Japan residents have complaints, criticisms and demands of the national and local governments, but a common theme is “take responsibility”, which seems to mean in many cases “decide on guidelines, policies and safety standards and tell us and the local governments what they are.” In other words, they want certainty: what level of radiation in the air, the water, in rice, is safe for adults, children, women, people over 60, etc.? Given such-and-such a level, what actions should people take?

However, this obscures the fact that the final decision is/has to be a personal and individual one taken by each person using their own judgment based on the information they can get.  There may never be certainty, even if all politicians defer to scientific judgment.  There are also differences of opinion amongst scientists regarding what is and is not a “safe” level of radiation (as Prof. Lenz blogged before, see his entry on Radiation and reason by Wade Allison, and on former radiation adviser to PM Kan Toshiko Kosako).

In other words, what we have is an evolving situation (tho evolving less rapidly than in the first couple of months after March 11), with a great deal of data, and a large number of issues, i.e. decisions to be made on both an individual (do I stay? Do I abandon my business and home and move to another area of Japan? Do I commit suicide? What about my Ageing Parent(s)?) and collective level (what should we do with all this debris? What about medical services? What about refuse collection?), and disagreement and/or conflicting professional opinions (e.g. about what is a safe level of radiation).

Given this environment of uncertainty, how should an individual act?

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58 nanosieverts in Tokyo | Lenz Blog

As measured this morning.  I haven’t done one of these posts in a while, since the figures are rather constantly around 60 now. That compares to about 80 in Munich, my home town in Germany, and is of course perfectly safe. In contrast, CO2 levels are unacceptably high world wide at over 392 ppm and rising.

via 58 nanosieverts in Tokyo | Lenz Blog.

Fear and anxiety over radiation levels, radioactive food sources, accurate measurements, trustworthy sources, etc., often distracts from other dangers. It is important to keep perspective.

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Spooked consumers snapping up cheap Geiger counters | The Japan Times Online

Astonishing. A society which has been trained to obey orders, to undertake nothing on one’s own initiative without consulting superiors and peers/fellow group or community members, is taking matters into its own hands at an accelerating pace. Reality is forcing itself into people’s consciousness. The idea that they might have been living in a dream until now, that they are victims of their own values (collectivism, obedience to authority, letting the elites run the country (and assuming that those who do run the country are elites and thus must know what they are doing),and finally, a largely unsuspected and unconscious scientism, may, or may not, be slowly percolating…

Consumers are snapping up the devices, which range in price from ¥10,000 to ¥1 million, to check radiation in their backyards and parks where they take their children. The cheaper models are proving the most popular.

Although the cheaper devices are generally of lower quality, they can still be effective if users have a good understanding of how they work, experts said.

“Devices that detect only gamma rays are probably good enough for individuals,” said Masahiro Fukushi, a radiation professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University.

In general, cheap devices detect only gamma rays, which are released by various isotopes of iodine and cesium.

The more expensive models can detect alpha and beta rays as well, Fukushi said. Uranium and plutonium emit alpha rays. Strontium releases beta rays.

via Spooked consumers snapping up cheap Geiger counters | The Japan Times Online.

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Costs of switching nuclear off | Lenz Blog

Prof. Lenz has some interesting things to say about the Fukushima nuclear crisis. As there is so much hyperventilating blogging going on (anxiety and unease sell, and they are also somewhat addictive), I like to read alternative views. Here’s a selection:

New York Times has an excellent article about some of the damage to the climate and Japan’s economy expected from slowing down nuclear energy.

They estimate about 3 trillion yen per year in extra fossil fuel costs, which will place a burden on the balance of trade. And they report on a government estimate of about 210 million tons of CO2 emitted over 1990 records, a 16% increase, while Japan is supposed to reduce by 6% under the Kyoto protocol.

I learned that Japan was the world’s largest importer of coal to begin with.

via Costs of switching nuclear off | Lenz Blog.

SPIEGEL has published an interview on radiation damage from the Fukushima accident with Shunichi Yamashita, who has been working as an adviser to the Fukushima prefecture government and plans to be involved in the large follow-up studies coming up.

He is reasonably well informed about the lack of danger from low doses, but still says that he doesn’t know for sure about the absence of risk under 100 millisieverts dose. I don’t agree with his position, which I think is much too generous to the irrational fear crowd. As far as I am concerned, at the very least the 100 millisieverts per month proposed by Wade Allison should guide all related decisions.

One thing I have learned from this interview is that people relocated from Chernobyl saw their life expectancy reduced from 65 to 58 years. That is a massive health effect from the evacuation, and it is mostly caused by irrational fear, leading to symptoms as depression, alcoholism, and suicide.

This story should not repeat itself in Japan.

SPIEGEL interview with Shunichi Yamashita | Lenz Blog.

Mainichi reports on a couple of cases where Fukushima residents’ health was damaged by fear-induced stress. They say that Fukushima Medical University plans to study the problem in a systematic way and will publish results of a survey in autumn of this year.

Since no one has got radiation exceeding a reasonable limit of 100 millisieverts a month, all the health damage from the accident is expected from this kind of nocebo effect, and none whatsoever from radiation.

via Psychological stress | Lenz Blog.

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2011/08/20 20:21 – Retailers Begin Independent Radiation Checks

Reality is forcing consumers and businesses to make increasing use of their own initiative and of private sources. Will consumers continue to insist on more government assistance with food-safety checks? Will they continue to be disappointed with the results (too little, too late)? Will increasing numbers of consumers and local governments look elsewhere for help?

TOKYO (Nikkei)–Supermarket operators and other food retailers are increasingly conducting independent radiation checks on their products amid growing concerns among consumers about food safety.

Supermarket chain Ito-Yokado Co. has started strengthening radiation checks at its own farms, and many restaurant operators have bought radiation dosimeters and begun their own inspections.

These moves come after sales of Japanese beef at supermarkets tumbled following the discovery that cattle fed with rice straw tainted with radioactive cesium had been shipped to many parts of the country.

Ito-Yokado has conducted radiation checks on cow manure, rice husks and wood chips that had been used at its own farms until August in four locations in the Kanto region, including Chikusei, Ibaraki Prefecture, and Tomisato, Chiba Prefecture. It has also used a third-party organization to check soil and unused manure at its farms.

Major supermarket operator Aeon Co. (8267) will ask a third-party organization to conduct radiation checks on rice produced in 2011 for its “Topvalu” private brand.

Kakiyasu Honten Co. (2294), which operates a chain of shops selling prepared food dishes, spent about 20 million yen to buy a germanium semiconductor detector that can pick up even low levels of radiation and recognize different types of radioactive substances. It started checks on beef on Aug. 12.

via 2011/08/20 20:21 – Retailers Begin Independent Radiation Checks.

Please note: “These moves come after sales of Japanese beef at supermarkets tumbled following the discovery that cattle fed with rice straw tainted with radioactive cesium had been shipped to many parts of the country.”

It did not take petitions, complaints, paperwork, committee-meetings to get these private checks. It merely took a tumble in sales. In other words, prices send the quickest signals, and businesses that run on profit and loss react quickly to those signals.

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High Radiation Right Next to Children’s Swimming Pool in Kawasaki City | EX-SKF

On another blog, I suggested that whining and ranting that the Japanese government should do more, and more promptly, may result in unexpected and unpleasant surprises, instead of the results one is hoping for. The following is the kind of thing I had in mind. “Take more radiation measurements” results in… surprise, suprise, measuring locations likely to provide low readings.

The government authorities, whether national or municipal, say they’ve been measuring the radiation at parks and schools where children go, but they’ve been criticized for picking the least contaminated locations to measure.

via High Radiation Right Next to Children’s Swimming Pool in Kawasaki City | EX-SKF.

Here’s a case in Kawasaki City, where a citizens’ group measured on their own, found a high radiation location in a park that the city said it had measured, and alerted the city about the highly radioactive dirt right next to the swimming pool that children are using since early July.

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Japanese Government Will Lift Shipping Ban on Cows from Fukushima and Miyagi (Hello #Radioactive Beef Again) | EX-SKF

Yesterday, I predicted growing and lingering uncertainty and doubt in the minds of Japanese residents for a long time to come. Doubts about the accuracy of food-safety and information about food-safety; doubts about the trustworthiness and reliability of the sources, doubts as to the sources (is this food really where the package says its from?). There will continue to be doubts, even if the source of information seems sincere and trustworthy, due to the unpredictable nature of radiation accumulation in different foods.

Below is more evidence for my prognosis. From EX-SKF who is quoting from his own translation of a  Mainichi Shinbun (8/18/2011) news item:

The Ministry of Health and Labor wanted the contaminated rice hay out of the cattle farms as a condition to lift the ban. On the other hand, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fukushima/Miyagi Prefectures insisted the rice hay remain within the farms as long as it was separated from the cows, because it would be hard for the farms to secure the storage space outside the farms.

So the Ministry of Health and Labor lost. This is the Ministry that’s supposed to protect consumers.

Will they test all the cows? No they won’t. Not even in Fukushima. They only test the meat of the cows raised in the planned evacuation zone and evacuation-ready zone right outside the 20 kilometer radius from Fukushima I Nuke Plant. For everywhere else in Fukushima Prefecture, the first cow to be shipped from a cattle farm will be tested. If that passes the test, all cows can be sold.

Even when they do test, they will just do the simple test using “affordable” instruments that cost only a few thousand dollars and take only 15 minutes to test, and as long as the number is below 250 becquerels/kg they won’t test further. Only if it goes above 250 becquerels/kg, they will use expensive instruments that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and take 1 hour to test.

What about the news at the end of July that radioactive cesium is NOT distributed evenly in the meat, not even within the same part?

via Japanese Government Will Lift Shipping Ban on Cows from Fukushima and Miyagi (Hello #Radioactive Beef Again) | EX-SKF.

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