Japan halts sale of food from near Fukushima
Japan has halted sales of food products from near a crippled nuclear plant because of contamination by a radioactive element which can pose a short-term health risk, the UN atomic agency said on Saturday.
In what it called another "critical" measure to counter contamination of food, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Japanese authorities on March 16 recommended that people leaving the area should ingest stable iodine.
Taken as pills or syrup, stable (non-radioactive) iodine can be used to help protect against thyroid cancer in the event of radiation exposure in a nuclear accident.
"Though radioactive iodine has a short half-life of about eight 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," the IAEA said in a statement.
"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."
Earlier on Saturday, Japan's top government spokesman said tests detected radiation above the national safety level in spinach and milk produced near the Fukushima nuclear plant.
It was the first known case of such contamination since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that touched off the crisis.
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said radiation levels in milk from a Fukushima farm about 30 km (18 miles) from the plant, and spinach grown in Ibaraki, a neighbouring prefecture, exceeded limits set by the government.
But these higher radiation levels still posed no risk to human health, he said.
The IAEA, in a statement on its website, said Japan's health ministry had confirmed the presence of radioactive iodine contamination in food products measured in the Fukushima Prefecture, the area around the disaster-hit power plant.
"According to the latest data, the food products were measured from March 16-18 and indicated the presence of radioactive iodine," it said, adding it had passed on the information to the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
"To date, no other radioactive isotopes have been shown to increase in the analysis of food products around Fukushima," it said.
"The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has ordered a stop to the sale of all food products from the Fukushima Prefecture," the IAEA statement added.
A WHO study two decades ago of the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown, the most recent nuclear accident that affected a large population, estimated that up to 9,000 people could eventually die as a result of radiation exposure from the power plant.
About 4,000 people developed thyroid cancer as a result of the accident, most of whom had been children or adolescents in 1986. But survival rates of this type of cancer are high - about 99 percent so far, based on figures in Belarus.
- 1 The difference between a migrant and refugee, in one sentence
- 2 Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
- 3 Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
- 4 iPhone 5c to be discontinued, no iPhone 6c to replace it
The difference between a migrant and refugee, in one sentence
Spain accused of 'provocation' after letting Russian submarine refuel off Gibraltar
Allonautilus scrobiculatus: World's 'rarest' creature spotted for only the third time ever
Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...
£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...
£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...