Wednesday, August 22, 2012

19,507 Bq Radioactive Cesium from a Man in Fukushima Who's Been Eating Shiitake Mushrooms with More Than 140,000 Bq/kg of Cesium

Mind-boggling numbers, but I'm sure they will be dismissed as "no effect on health" because the man is in his 70s.

Another man was found with 11,191 becquerels. Their wives were also found with high levels of radioactive materials in their bodies.

Why? They have been eating food that they grow.

From Mainichi Shinbun (8/22/2012; link added) reporting the news that the health section at Asahi Shinbun reported in early August:

内部被ばく:自家栽培の野菜食べ 福島の男性2人

Two men in Fukushima with internal radiation exposure from eating home-grown vegetables


A survey by the Tokyo University Institute of Medical Science has revealed that two men in their 70s in Fukushima Prefecture who have been eating home-grown vegetables that are not sold to the market have internal radiation exposure with relatively high amount of radioactive materials, exceeding 10,000 becquerels. One of them has about 20,000 becquerels, which would translate to 0.85 millisievert [internal] exposure in one year. It is still lower than the internal radiation exposure limit from food (1 millisievert/year) set by the national government. Dr. Masaharu Tsubokura, who conducted the survey, says, "It may not be the level that would affect health, but I would like people to test the food they grow before eating them."


One of the two men lives in Kawamata-machi, and the other lives in Nihonmatsu City. They were tested for internal radiation exposure by using the Whole Body Counter to measure radioactive cesium (cesium-134 and -137) in their bodies in July and August this year. The man in Kawamata-machi was found with 19,507 becquerels, and his wife was found with 7,724 becquerels. The man in Nihonmatsu City was found with 11,191 becquerels, and his wife 6,771 becquerels. For all of them, it is assumed that they have ingested radioactive cesium released by the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident through food.


The husband and wife in Kawamata-machi have been eating shiitake mushrooms they grow on the logs from Namie-machi [in Fukushima Prefecture], bamboo shoots harvested near their home, and dried persimmons. From the mushrooms, over 140,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive materials [cesium] was found. The couple in Nihonmatsu City has been eating the vegetables given by the couple in Kawamata-machi.

Shiitake logs from Namie-machi... It seems no one bothered to tell them that Namie-machi is probably more heavily contaminated than some of the towns closer to the Fukushima plant. Being in their 70s, their news sources are likely to be the traditional media such as newspapers and TV.

Kawamata-machi is located just west of Iitate-mura, another heavily contaminated location in Fukushima.

Dr. Tsubokura says in the original Asahi article that these levels of internal radiation exposure are seen in Belarus.

However, one of the strange things I've noticed since April 1 this year when the new safety standard of 100 Bq/kg of radioactive cesium was put in place is that people in general don't care much about food contamination any more. It was a big deal, literally up until March 31, the last day under the provisional 500 Bq/kg safety level. If a food item was found with double-digit cesium per kilogram, people were worried.

But now, with the safety limit of 100 Bq/kg and the detection limit of 20 bq/kg using NaI scintillation survey meters (which I think is too high for comfort), less and less people care if a food item is found with, say 60, 70 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium. It doesn't make a headline news any more (though it is duly reported in the media).

Instead, they worry about a nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, boy-wonder mayor of Osaka, Friday "single issue" protests at the Prime Minister's Official Residence in Tokyo.

They are good ways to not have to deal with the issues at hand, which remain, in my personal opinion, radioactive materials from the nuclear accident in the environment and how to deal with them.


Anonymous said...

Perfectly agreed on what people should worry about: contaminated food in you mouth is more worrisome that a npp... until the latter explodes, at least.
Other nuke news these days: Tepco fishing sky high contaminated fish 20km from F1, plutonium found in Fukushima, worker collapsed for "heart attack" at F1 after working there 1yr and taking some 25mSv.
Reports are on Jiji Press in English -- sorry no links... this web page does not allow me to paste links from my iPhone...

Anonymous said...

Also, according to Daily Yomiuri, Tepco is swamped with requests to reduce the max power (amperage) for households because lower power contracts will get a lower rate hike in September.
I like this -- vote with your money.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Thanks Beppe for info. TEPCO's news is very good. Money talks. I don't think I've seen that news in Japanese.

Atomfritz said...

Had to look at the maps to find out where these cities are located and was amazed how far the exclusion zone they are!

Were these findings from very few rare random samples, or did the authorities do a large sampling of many individuals?
I am wondering if this degree of contamination is common in these areas or if the people mentioned were just the most extreme cases found in a thorough survey?

Anyway, stacking up one millisievert of internal contamination per year could accelerate the total dose rapidly over the years.

Do the Japanese measure the ashes of Fukushima cancer victims for contamination?
(I ask because such surveys were done with the ashes of cancer victims near the Rocky Flats nuke bomb factory at Denver to find out if the elevated cancer rate in the vicinity is radiation-related, and high quantities of plutonium were commonly found, as stated in )

Hope this will be followed up and the people's long-term internal contamination and health deterioration observed.

It's really hard to believe that only elder people eat produce they grown themselves and get contaminated.
Maybe the focus is on elder people to make people believe only elders are affected by poisoned food?

So many questions rising up as more details of the true impact of the accident leak to the public...

(Thank you very much LaPrimavera for finding and spreading this news!)

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Atomfritz, authorities are not testing many people. Residents in towns closer to the nuke plants are tested, but not all of them, nowhere close. Home-grown vegetables in Fukushima are not tested unless people bring them to the testing stations. Judging by the number of tests done at these testing stations, not enough at all.

As far as I know, no one has measured the ashes of the deceased, though I've privately heard some concerns. Thanks for the link.

Anonymous said...

Re. "people should continue to worry" - but what difference do the headlines really make? What difference does worrying make? Alert fatigue is setting in and the truth is worrying or "being careful about food" probably don't help much except increase your personal fears. Being bothered by your fears also does not change the situation, so the natural thing is to try ignoring the situation.

As others have said, in radiation matters only three parameters count: time, distance, shielding. Only the two first are relevant for food. So either you move or you stay and take your chances. Newspaper headlines (and this report on a extreme outlier) don't change things.

I suppose this is a plea for ignorance and denial.

Anonymous said...

The same researcher has said that it takes longer for older people to get rid of the cesium, thus it accumulates easily, specially if you are eating mushrooms with 140,000 Bq/Kg. How much do you need to eat to get 20,000 Bq total body, 150 grams of those things?

People should not eat mushrooms grown outdoors in Kanto or Fukushima.The whole population should be informed properly.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the post above that says worrying is futile.

Worrying is generating fear based on something that is not yet real. Something imagined. The future could be better or worse than you imagine, but it most certainly won't be as you imagine.

I would recommend understanding the reality vs. worrying about the unknown.

Here's the reality:

- As a result of the earthquake and Tsunami on 3/11, Japan has suffered multiple nuclear power plant meltdowns - complete failures.

- There is no technology today to control the meltdowns. They continue to burn openly and emit radiation and will until the fuel is exhausted or the cool naturally enough to stop burning.

- Those failures have released radioactive substances to the air, to the water and to the land in quantities that have never before been seen by man. No country has experience with this amount of radiation. The quantity of radioactive material that is uncontained and must be assumed lost, is greater than all other releases of radioactive material in the history of nuke - combined....

- Japan does have experience with radiation sickness and its effects from the WWII bombings, although the amount of radiation in that case was tiny in comparison to this.

- If you live in Japan - anywhere in Japan - the amount of radiation you are being exposed to is rising, and will continue to rise for a long time. This amount can range from deadly to potentially harmless, depending on many factors. However the governments assurances that there is no effect on health Is a lie. Some people are already dying from the radiation, and the full effects will take years to surface.

- If you live in North America - anywhere, but especially in the Western Half, you have been exposed to high amounts of Japanese radiation, and it exists in the air you breathe, the water you drink and the food you eat. As in Japan, the effects will range from deadly to possibly no effect - with an even longer period of "incubation" for the full effects to be seen.

- if you live anywhere else on earth, you likely are receiving a smaller dose of Fukushima radiation, and you will likely be spared the short term effects But the long term effects are still relevant.

- Probably more devastating in the short term is the economic impact. Japan, the third largest economy in the world, is now struggling. There does not exist enough Yen to fix the damage from Fukushima and pay reparations to those who lost everything. Personal wealth has declined. The top layer of society has fled the country. Important companies headquarters are leaving Japan. The Emporer and his family have fled Tokyo. Government officials are resigning en-masse. It seems highly likely these trends will continue, if not accelerate.

- The government is covering up the scale of the disaster for multiple reasons - First; they have to deny the existence of damages, because there is not enough money to pay for all of them. Second, they must stem the tide of exodus, or there will be no more Japan. However the die is cast. There will be no more Japan as it was before.

Those are the facts. Understanding them and making logical decisions regarding the best course of action is much more effective than worrying.


Anonymous said...

Well at least they can still bury these people since they are under the 8000 bq/kg limit (unless they are cremated).

Anonymous said...

A record-high 25,800 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium has been detected in fish caught within 20 km of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, according to Tokyo Electric Power Co., indicating there may be hot spots under the sea that need further investigation.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

In Japan, cremation is "strongly recommended" and almost all funerals are by cremation. In Tokyo and Osaka, cremation is required by local law.

Atomfritz said...

If cremation is so common in Japan, it would be really easy to routinely check the radioactivity content of the remains to learn about the actual accident consequences.

But the reasons not to do so aren't necessarily notorious incuriosity, as anon 9:11 hinted at.
Imagine the ashes of millions of people being seized and stored in a mundane radwaste deposit...

Anonymous said...

do you have any evidence about the emperor having fled Tokyo, massive resignation of top officials and top layer of society fleeing the country?
I am under the impression that both Japanese and foreign companies are shifting their focus from Japan to China, HK, etc. and this might be related to demographics more than anything else. However I never heard what you mention; if you happen to be able to post some link, please do.
On a separate line, yesterday I was reading news (in English) that power consumption in Japan this Summer has declined some 12% amid energy saving efforts and in spite of a record hot Summer. This was listed among the news for Tepco on Google finance.

Anonymous said...

I also agree with not worrying, in terms of not getting emotionally tired.
However, without getting emotional, I steer clear from mushrooms of any type and provenience after having read news of Okinawa mushrooms grown on wood from Fukushima. Same goes for bamboo shoots.

Anonymous said...

This is all I can find as a reference to the Imperial family relocating.

I'm pretty sure there was more than this at the time.


arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

I wouldn't put too much into the imperial family moving back to Kyoto. They certainly did not "flee" anywhere.

Kyoto has been demanding the return ever since they left for Tokyo more than 100 years ago.

BTW, current Kyoto City mayor is the one who's been pushing for Japanese cuisine to be approved as "World Heritage".

Anonymous said...

You are right about the food, I can say because we do care. Five weeks in Tokyo prefecture, it seems the "let's support Fukushima" team has won. We spent three more time than usual buying possibly safe food, and it also comes at an extra cost, 30 to 100 % more. The usual products come from contaminated areas. Some people do care, and put their glasses on for shopping, but I say that from what's on the shelves. Only expensive stores like Kinokunya have safer food on a regular basis.
Ignorance as a sweet pillow; a lady proposed dried shiitakes as a gift, "they are very good, these farmers supply the imperial house". Might be, but they are grown in a very contaminated location.
BTW, I we used to enjoy food pretty much in Japan, before Fuku that is.

Anonymous said...

Oh, humans...

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many people in the affected areas are still growing their own food or foraging without knowing or caring about the possible ramifications? How many kids are being exposed by well meaning grandparents that are set in their ways or don't know that certain foodstuffs can be more dangerous than others when grown locally?

"Grandma has such yummy mushrooms, I ate them all summer vacation".

Anonymous said...

@3:27 Those folks are old people, most likely nice simple folks who have grown their own food for the last 60 years. Probably have a hard time connecting the dots of information TV provides them.
No need to say TV is not explicitly cautioning people against home grown food... probably because there is no difference in terms of potential contamination between commercial and home grown food. Furthermore, if TV cautioned against home grown food, slightly younger/more educated folks will then connect the dots in no time.
I just hope their grandchildren did not partake and are living far away.

Anonymous said...

Everything cited on this page is essentially spot-on,and also necessary since the venues all of us who live within the constraints of common-sense & logic NEED reality-based sources of the news being censored so blatantly on the sensitive issue of radiological elements invading our lives & bodies as never before-thank you for being honest. Also,I can't go into detail due to "concern" for my own source(s)~but one of them is a serviceman who enlisted and got a huge sign-on bonus due to his high I.Q. and choosing to serve in a MOS related directly to nuclear crap and still didn't have a clue about what was in store for him when he arrives at his long-term duty station in Japan(?!!) Actually he DID have a clue since his handlers told him to expect to spend LOTS of money for imported food and water since he is advised to avoid the "cheap,DIRTY,local food & drink"!! I wish it were as easy to "walk",no-"RUN"away from making this particular deployment as it was to enlist for him~seems his $$ "bonus" will be spent just TRYING to source food from someplace else?!!(He would be better off taking his chances in Afghanistan or Iraq,etc.-than having radioactive contaminants wage war against his body internally for nearly a half-decade to come!!) He's such a young guy too!!-it's a shame....

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