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
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.
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."
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.
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."
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
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.
will likely affect farmers who depend on income generated from both