Saturday 25 January 2014

Peace of Mind for Parents

Hi folks
There's no snow in Koriyama at the moment though it's cold. Very cold. The upside is that on fine days, like yesterday, we can enjoy wonderful views of the snow-clad mountains to the west against clear blue skies.

Koriyama city has just published figures of a survey of over 9,000 pre-school children who carried dosimeters for 70 days from September to November last year. The average additional exposure (i.e. in addition to natural radiation) works out at 0.44 of a millisievert per year, way below the 'safe' target of 1 mSv/year. When they did the same survey last year the average was 0.52, so levels are definitely going down. But as I've said many times, it's nothing to worry about. You get the same amount of radiation in Hong Kong (0.23 μSv/hr Safecast) and with its open spaces, and no pollution from China, Koriyama must be a healthier place to live.

The city's doing these surveys because it wants people to come back. 150,000 people have been displaced due to the nuclear accident, of these 48,900 have moved to other parts of Japan (or abroad). That's a lot of people. (The figure peaked at 62,000 in March 2012 but fell below 50,000 for the first time last October.) Of these, about half are estimated to be 'voluntary evacuees', mainly mothers and children. I personally know four families in this situation. One friend and her young child moved to Hokkaido after the disaster but came back last summer. Another friend's teenage daughters went on to high school in Kyoto and won't be coming back. Two more with primary school age children are still living in Tokyo, wondering whether to come back when their free rent runs out in March next year. 

At the dentists this morning I noticed a poster. If parents take their children's milk teeth to their local dentist, they will be sent to Tohoku University's Dental Research Centre in Sendai and analysed for radioactive substances (there's been some scare-mongering on the internet about Strontium 90 getting into bones). Parents will get the results. The lengths people in every walk of life go to to get data is impressive. Fukushima children are becoming the most studied children in the world!
I found details of the project here: Fukushima Minpo article (in Japanese)
That's all for now. Bye.

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