Friday 30 November 2012

Radiation Questionnaire

Hi folks
A year after I sent in my health questionnaire Radiation 5 I've received the results. In the four months from 11 March to 11 July last year my external exposure is estimated to be 'approximately 1.0 millisievert'. This tallies nicely with my own calculations which came to 1.02 mSv.

But what does this mean? According to a graphic that came with the results, the limit for the general public is 1 mSv/year. Yet on the same chart, average  'natural radiation' is shown as 1.5 mSv/year in Japan and 2.4 mSv/year worldwide. Careful reading of the pamphlet that came with the result suggests that you can have up to 1 mSv/year excluding natural and medical radiation. So does 'approximately 1.0 mSv' include natural radiation? I presume it does but I thought I'd ring the helpline to make sure. There must be a lot of other confused people. The line was engaged all day.

The pamphlet is quite technical and stresses that under 100 mSv/year, risks are minimal. It mentions a place in Iran with 260 mSv/year where there is no occurrence of cancer or higher than normal death rates, and a place in Canton where high radiation from building materials has indeed caused abnormal chromosomes - but with no increase in the incidence of cancer.

Being a conscientious sort of person, I filled in the questionnaire and promptly sent it off but it seems I'm in the minority. Only 22% of Fukushima citizens could be bothered. You often hear celebrity Nishida Toshiyuki on the local radio urging us to fill it in, and Fukushima Medical University has set up a help line and a service centre but I think most people have lost interest now and are too busy getting on with their lives. (It's a different story with the thyroid tests for kids which have a high take up.)

Certainly, levels are down. In July last year levels near my flat were 0.8μSv/hr. When the monitoring post went up in March it was 0.438, now it's 0.368. A quick look at current levels in the schools (Koriyama City HP) shows that, thanks to decontamination, levels are for the most part under that magic figure of 0.23 μSv/hour which we are told equates to 1.0 mSv/year.

I need to revise that last post about the election. I said that the parties' stance on the nuclear issue was unclear. Well, it's all changed. That was Sunday. On Tuesday Kada Yukiko, governor of Shiga prefecture, an elegant lady I have mentioned before, announced that she was starting up a new party, the Japan Future Party (Mirai no To 未来の党). Kada is a conservation expert and and she's standing on an anti-nuclear platform. (Shiga is sandwiched between Kyoto and Fukui on the coast where there is a cluster of nuclear plants.) The very next day wily old kingmaker Ozawa announced his party would join her. So that's the end of his People's Life First Party (Kokumin Seikatsu wa Daiichi 国民生活は第一)- stupid name for a party anyway.  His 50 or so MPs, along with two other parties have joined the new party. So now we have 12 major (?) parties as well as the usual minority parties and independents. The media are having a helluva job trying to explain to the electorate where each party stands. Election on 16 December.
Bye for now

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