Sunday 23 October 2011

Live and Learn

A while back, in the midst of the confusion and anxiety over our exposure to radiation, Fukushima prefecture pledged to check the health of its two million citizens and my questionnaire arrived in the post a few days ago. For every day and night from 11 to 26 March you have to show where you were at what times and whether you were a) inside  b) in transit  c) outside. To help jog your memory there's a 'calendar' of the main events during that period. A catalogue of explosions, suspicious wisps of smoke from the reactors, and the dates when milk, spinach and greens were banned. It makes sobering reading. It's taken me well over an hour to fill in the form even though I have this blog as a record. Next, for the period from 26 March to 11 July you have to give any variations on your general movements (in my case, the five days I spent in England over Golden Week). If you ate home grown fruit and vegetables or drank home produced milk you should give details of what you ate and how much.  There are questions on what water you drank during the month of March (that's worrying), whether you took iodine tablets, whether you were screened and whether you were a radiation worker. The questionnaire is to be returned to the Medical Department of Fukushima University and in due course I'll be sent an estimate of how much radiation I've been exposed to. I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation myself a month or so ago so it'll be interesting to see how the results compare.

Is it my imagination or are we getting more relaxed about radiation? Certainly we're more savvy. We've come a long way, even compared to a month ago. We're getting more information. And at last more food is being measured rather than random sampling. The new season's rice is coming on the market. After the scare a couple of weeks ago when brown rice from Nihonmatsu showed 500 bq/kg, polished rice from there is clear. Koriyama JA (Agricultural Coop) tested 1,000 places (the whole prefecture only tested 68 places) and all the rice is clear, no caesium at all.

Last week a morning show on NHK took the meals for one week for 7 families across the country and tested them for radioactive substances. I didn't see it myself but there's a link below to the website.  The results for the  family in Sapporo were 5.7 bq/kg,  Osaka 3.4, Hiroshima 0, Edogawa (Tokyo) 4, the family in Koriyama that ate Fukushima veg 0, the farming family in Sukagawa (just south of Koriyama) who grow their own veg and had never had it tested 3.7 and the big surprise the family in Meguro in Tokyo the highest level of 9 bq/kg. All levels well under the 'safe' amounts of 500 bq/kg so reassuring but there was some debate on our Fukushima Info Facebook site with some people saying the sample was too small to be valid.

We live and learn.  We're certainly learning and we're getting more information these days to make informed choices. We're also learning to live with radiation. After all, the majority of us don't have much choice.
Good night from a wet and chilly Koriyama

Cleaning up one of the parks in Koriyama

This part cleaned.  An addition to the 'Poop Scoop' sign reads '14 October, 1.37 μSv/hr'

The fountains drained and stones washed clean.

My health questionnaire

The page for an hour by hour breakdown of my movements from 11 to 26 March

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