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Officials have noted that the levels found in the food and water are not dangerous, but need to be banned because they are above government limits

Japan's 9.0-magnitude earthquake on March 11 has left plenty of destruction in its wake including tsunami waves, nuclear problems, and a death toll that could exceed 18,000

While troubles with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex in particular have become manageable, the World Health Organization (WHO) has pointed out a potentially harmful side effect of the radiation in Japan: contaminated food.

Recent reports have noted that radiation levels in Japan "remain safe," but WHO worries that radioactive particles have contaminated food and water in areas near and around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.  

"Quite clearly it's a serious situation," said Peter Cordingley, spokesman for WHO's regional office for the Western Pacific. "It's a lot more serious than anybody thought in the early days when we thought that this kind of problem can be limited to 20 to 30 kilometers. It's safe to suppose that some contaminated produce got out of the contamination zone."

In response, Japan has stopped the sale of spinach from the Ibaraki Prefecture and raw milk from the Fukushima Prefecture due to radioactive iodine and cesium found in both. Locally grown crops have been banned as well.  

"From reports I have heard so far, it seems that the levels of radioactive iodine and cesium in milk and some foodstuffs are significantly higher than government limits," said Jim Smith, a specialist in earth and environmental science's at Portsmouth University. "This doesn't mean that consumption of these products is necessarily an immediate threat, as limits are set so that foodstuffs can be safely consumed over a fairly long period of time. Nevertheless, for foodstuffs which are found to be above limits, bans on sale and consumption will have to be put in place in the affected areas."

In addition, the health ministry of Japan has warned those near the plant to avoid drinking tap water as well, which contains high levels of radioactive iodine.  

Officials have noted that the levels found in food and water are not dangerous, but need to be banned if they are above government limits. Food imported from Japan will be monitored.

The ban will likely affect farmers who depend on income generated from both prefectures.

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RE: Iodine 131 has a short half life
By drycrust3 on 3/21/2011 4:13:36 PM , Rating: 1
a build up in the body to see any noticable negative effect.

That you would be so lucky that the negative effects are noticeable now, e.g. your hair starts to fall out next week.
The far more likely scenario is that your kids will have birth defects, go to school with lots of other kids with similar defects, you and the other parents are too exhausted from cancer treatment to to stand and cheer at their sports events, and you will have a government that has done an inquiry and found it wasn't related to the radiation.

RE: Iodine 131 has a short half life
By futrtrubl on 3/21/2011 5:36:12 PM , Rating: 2
Then I suggest you don't get a CT scan, since that's the amount of radiation you would get from these products if you ate them for a YEAR!

By Solandri on 3/21/2011 5:49:59 PM , Rating: 2
You're correct, the amount of radioactivity they're finding on food is small enough that eating it for a year would give you about the same dose as a CT scan. That would be about 1/20th the lowest measured dose definitively linked to a cancer, and about 1/200th the dose where you begin to exhibit symptoms like hair falling out.

However, OP is correct that birth defects are a much higher concern, since a developing blastocyst (pre-embryo) is much more susceptible to damage from radiation. Pregnant women and women planning to become pregnant soon should definitely take these food prohibitions very seriously.

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