Thursday, June 23, 2011

#Radiation in Japan: "Experiment" Just Got Bigger, As Fukushima to Fit All Infants, Kindergarteners, School Children with Radiation Monitoring Badges

(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.

(Image from Chiyoda Technol site)

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.


doitujin said...

and still people seem to be grateful for the least help they can get... in jp nhk news a mother was cited that way, saying she couldn't afford a dosimeter for her child, but well, this isn't better at all as it won't change places visited or anything in lifestyle... why don't they do something that also has a benefit on the user? it couldn't be much more expensive as the same mechanical parts would need to be used... and parents don't even complain... let alone get outta there... although current news about new evacuation zones planned should not make anyone confident around there. so cynical, this kind of stuff. but as it's the jp people, i can at least hope they won't later tell the families wrong doses, although news about the plant workers don't even make me too confident in that point anymore... what to think about this kind of acting, i wonder?

Anonymous said...

Robbie001 sez:

Apparently the "glass" dosimeters are newfangle radiophotoluminescent glass (RPL) dosimeters they have started to replace TLD's. I'm not familiar with them so I can't say what their pros and cons actually are but here are some links.

Link from Areva's original link

Learn the ropes:

Various abstracts:

Anonymous said...

Special thanks to your reader Tokyo Brown Tabby for taking the time to call the company and then relaying the information to you.
Aside from outright lying about exposure rates - officials may also use data manipulation - the most common and simplistic form of this is averaging all readings for Fukushima so that a fortunate school with low exposure (if there is one) can be used to lower the average for all students. I am wondering if this is why they have enlarged the sample? Get the doses for toddlers upwind of the plant to average with higher doses of the toddlers downwind of the plant and then say 'oh the average is not so high at all'. This would yield a more favorable number then just focusing on highest hot spots.

This is a variation of a tactic described in the excellent scientific study titled: Chernobyl Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment.

And here's the excerpt from the study that motivated me to comment on 'averages' tonight:

"Some have estimated that“the fallout from
Chernobyl adds only about 2% to the global
radioactive background.”This“only” 2% mistakenly looks trivial:for many populations in the Northern Hemisphere the Chernobyl doses
could be many times higher compared with the
natural background, whereas for others (mostly in the Southern Hemisphere) it can be close to zero. Averaging Chernobyl doses globally is like averaging the temperature of hospital patients."

Here's the link for the pdf of the study (

Fall Out Man! said...

Hi doitujin,
Nothing appears on TV about this issue in Japan by accident. First they wheel out a woman saying she cannot afford these useless "dosimeters" for her kids. The media expresses phony outrage and then what do you know, by chance the government has the solution right away! Wow, what a fortunate coincidence!!!!! Now everyone can have a dosimeter and contribute to experimental data that will never be made public. Tragically, even as kids are irradiated, their parents will now thank the government for keeping them safe :-(.

Anonymous said...

I've got to assume Japanese children, especially boys, are prone to 'lose' things. Of what use will these cumulative exposure devices be if children lose them and need another? Also, as noted, these devices will not be able to tell where the children picked up their 'radiation'. This is a real lost opportunity to gather comprehensive data on radiation in Fukushima prefecture because, as we all know, there are few places children do not explore. Equipping children with a combination geiger counter/GPS device with radio
telemetry would give the government a complete radiological map of the prefecture in no time at all.

doitujin said...

actually, that the children are used for selfish research intentions, i think, is the only conclusion i can get now after what i just read in another article:

well, they don't only give those badges to children under 15, but also to all(?) pregnant women, it seems. and as there's NO present benefit from these "dosimeters", it can't have another meaning... i think? ...or do i miss something here because of spite and anger? if not, then that's SO sick, by far too much... and with including the pregnant people, it becomes completely obvious, or...? my god...

Anonymous said...

L'amateur de thé :
The French term is Cochon d'Inde (Indian pig) or cobaye; the Dutch call it Guinees biggetje (Guinean piglet) or cavia (while in some Dutch dialects it is called Spaanse rat); and in Portuguese the guinea pig is variously referred to as cobaia, from the Tupi word via its Latinization, or as porquinho da Índia (little Indian pig). This is not universal; for example, the common word in Spanish is conejillo de Indias (little rabbit of the Indies).[26] Equally peculiar, the Chinese refer to them as Holland pigs (荷蘭豬, hélánzhū).
(Wiki for guinea pigs - see in french).
(Of course I feel very bad about this, and I hope japanese people will stand up and protect their children.)

Yuki Onna said...

The state-of-the-art dosimeters look so CUTE. Check out the nifty pastel colours too. How can any radiation registered on these appealing things possibly be bad? Come on now.

Anonymous said...

Radiation can be monitored with OSL dosimeter badges that are easy to wear and water resistant. has a variety of dosimeters that can be used for different tasks

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