(CORRECTION: From NHK English it was not clear how young these children could be, but I checked the NHK Japanese, and found out that they will distribute these badges to 0-year-olds and older, all the way to junior high school students.)
There they go. Dr. Shunichi Yamashita must be thrilled for the prospect of a research of a lifetime!
Fukushima Prefecture decided to fit ALL kindergarteners, elementary school and junior high school children in Fukushima Prefecture, 280,000 of them, with what NHK World called "dosimeter" to monitor the radiation level as experienced by these small and young children.
From NHK World (English) (6/24/2011):
Fukushima Prefecture has decided to distribute dosimeters to about 280 thousand children to monitor their radiation exposure caused by the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Voices of parents expressing concern about their children's health have been growing louder.
The prefecture said on Thursday it will give dosimeters to children ranging from infants to junior high school students.
The prefecture will also subsidize cities and villages to replace top soil in the school yards or set up air conditioners in schools.
Some municipalities in the prefecture have already distributed, or decided to distribute, dosimeters to children to monitor radiation exposure.
The prefecture will provide financial help to those municipalities.
Voices of parents have been getting louder indeed, but they don't necessarily demanding for the radiation monitoring badges; they are demanding that their cities and towns do something to lower the radiation especially in the school environment and measure radiation in more detail so that their children can avoid "hot spots".
As I mentioned in my previous post, these are not "dosimeters" but "glass badges" that passively collect radiation information. It won't help these children or their parents to avoid high-radiation areas and spots, it won't tell them how much radiation they will have been exposed unless they are sent in to a company to interpret the data.
It costs about 3,000 yen a piece (US$37), so the total cost of the badges will be 840 million yen, or about US$10 million for the entire Fukushima Prefecture.
The company that manufactures these glass badges is Chiyoda Technol Corporation in Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo. Tokyo Brown Tabby, on reading my blogpost, called the company's Tokyo regional sales office. And here's what Tabby found:
You can't tell the amount of radiation the wearer has been exposed just by looking at the badge;
It is not designed to give alarm sound when the radiation is high;
It will be collected after a certain period of time, and the data will be downloaded from the badge by Chiyoda Technol, and the company will report back to the municipalities.
Well, the national government and the Fukushima government willfully withheld information on radioactive materials being carried by the wind and dispersed in the wide areas in the first 2 weeks of the accident because they "feared panic". So what do they do now? Not much, other than issuing one "safety declaration" after another and glass badges to children. As long as people look to them for "guidance" and "direction", they are safe and secure in their positions.