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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Japanese Earthquake Update (19 March 2011 12:00 UTC)

The latest from IAEA, contamination in food products has been detected. This sounds worrisome, excerpt :

" Contamination in Food Products around Fukushima

The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has confirmed the presence of radioactive iodine contamination in food products measured in the Fukushima Prefecture, the area around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. According to the latest data, the food products were measured from 16-18 March and indicated the presence of radioactive iodine. To date, no other radioactive isotopes have been shown to increase in the analysis of food products around Fukushima.

Though radioactive iodine has a short half-life of about 8 days and decays naturally within a matter of weeks, there is a short-term risk to human health if radioactive iodine in food is absorbed into the human body. If ingested, it can accumulate in and cause damage to the thyroid. Children and young people are particularly at risk of thyroid damage due to the ingestion of radioactive iodine.

Japanese authorities have implemented two critical measures to counter the contamination of food products by radioactive iodine. First, on 16 March, Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission recommended local authorities to instruct evacuees leaving the 20-kilometre area to ingest stable (not radioactive) iodine. As an established method of prevention, the ingestion of stable iodine can help to prevent the accumulation of radioactive iodine in the thyroid. Stable iodine pills and syrup (for children) have been made available at evacuation centres. Second, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has ordered a stop to the sale of all food products from the Fukushima Prefecture.

The IAEA has passed this information to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and will continue to report on this development."

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