Saturday, June 18, 2011

Radiation in Japan: Chronic Nosebleeds, Diarrhea, Lack of Energy in Children in Koriyama City, Fukushima


What’s happening to children in Koriyama City in Fukushima right now? Nosebleed, diarrhea, lack of energy – “Effect of radiation unknown” says the doctor
Report by Ao Ideta, Tokyo Shinbun, June 16, 2011

On June 12, a non-profit organization called “The Bridge to Chernobyl” (チェルノブイリへのかけはし) held a free clinic in Koriyama City in Fukushima Prefecture, 50 kilometers [west] from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

Worried about the effect of radiation exposure, 50 families brought their children to see the doctor.

A 39-year-old mother of two told the doctor that her 6-year-old daughter had nosebleed everyday for 3 weeks in April. For 1 week, the daughter bled copiously from both nostrils. The mother said their doctor told her it was just a seasonal allergy from pollen. Her other child, 2-year-old son, had nosebleed from end of April to May.

The pediatrician from The Bridge to Chernobyl, Yurika Hashimoto, told the mother it was hard to determine whether the nosebleed was the result of radiation exposure, but they should have the blood test done for white blood cells. It was important to keep record, the doctor advised.
The family move out temporarily from Koriyama City to Saitama Prefecture after the March 11 earthquake, but came back to Koriyama at the end of March.

The mother said about 10% of pupils at the elementary school have left Koriyama. Each school in Koriyama decides whether to have the pupils drink local milk that the school provide, which tends to concentrate radioactive materials. In her daughter’s school, it is up to the parents to decide. But the mother said she let the daughter drink milk with other children because the daughter didn’t want to get excluded by other children for not drinking milk with them.

A 40-year-old father of a 4-month-old baby daughter was so worried that he never let the daughter go outside, even though she didn’t exhibit any ill effect of radiation so far. He said, “I’m so worried. I don’t know how to defend ourselves.”

I [the reporter of the story] used the radiation monitoring device over the low bush near the place where this event was being held. It measured 2.33 microsieverts/hour. As I raised the device higher, the radiation level went down to 1 microsievert/hour. The highest air radiation measured in Koriyama City was 8.26 microsieverts/hour on March 15. Since middle of May, it has been about 1.3 microsievert/hour.

If you live one year in a place with 1.3 microsievert/hour radiation, the cumulative radiation will exceed 11 millisieverts. [And that's only the external exposure.]

A 40-year-old mother with a 6-year-old son was angry, and said “Doctors, researchers, they all say different things. I don’t understand how the evacuation areas are determined. Take Iitate-mura, for example. They just let the villagers get exposed to high radiation for a month, and when the air radiation level got lower they told them to move out. We can’t trust the national government, we can’t trust Fukushima prefectural government.” Her family just built a new house, and she was not sure how they could survive economically if they moved. If they moved, when would they be able to come back? What about cost of moving, or the psychological effect on her child? She just couldn’t decide what to do.

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