Nuclear Meltdown

Radiation not strong enough to pose huge health risk

By Shan Juan and Qiu Bo (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-03-16 07:17
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Beijing - Chinese health experts said on Tuesday that the radiation levels recorded in Fukushima by Japanese authorities will not pose dangers to local residents nor turn them into unwitting transmitters of radioactive materials.

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As long as a person is found to be healthy and unharmed by the radiation leak, he or she cannot transmit radiation, said Wang Zhongwen, a researcher with the China Institute of Atomic Energy's radiation safety department.

"Only when the radiation level reaches 1.5 million to 2 million microsievert does the person exposed get ill," Wang added.

If the radiation level surpasses 2 million microsievert, then the people exposed to the radioactive source will become transmitters.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company said radiation leaking from the Fukushima Daiichi plant reached 8,217 microsievert an hour, more than eight times greater than the 1,000 microsievert people are naturally exposed to in a year, after a third explosion in four days rocked the plant Tuesday morning, according to Kyodo News .

As a precaution, the Japanese government told about 140,000 people living within 30 km of the plant to stay indoors to avoid radiation exposure, although the radiation levels were not high enough to pose a risk.

"As long as they follow instructions, they'll be quite safe," Wang said.

The Chinese embassy in Japan and the consulate general in Niigata said on the embassy's website that they will spare no efforts to transport home Chinese citizens who want to leave the irradiated area.

The website said both the Chinese embassy and local consulate general will arrange chartered flights and Chinese citizens will be transferred by bus to the nearby Narita and Niigata airports.

Concerns have meanwhile arisen that radioactive food will reach consumers in the Republic of Korea, Singapore, the Philippines and other Asian countries. In response, such countries have begun conducting stricter monitoring of the radiation levels of food imported from Japan.

York Chow, the head of the Hong Kong's Food and Health Bureau, said at a news conference on Monday that his bureau will increase the frequency of spot checks of food imported from Japan.

And customs officials in costal cities throughout the Chinese mainland are becoming more vigilant and are taking precautionary measures.

Quality inspection authorities in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, said they have not received requests for food testing since the start of the radiation leak and that they will follow instructions issued by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

The Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post quoted an unidentified source in the Shanghai bureau of quality and technical supervision as saying: "The bureau has been working on putting forth appropriate regulations".

By 9 pm on Tuesday, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine had not issued a further announcement.

Li Xinzhu contributed to this story.