Children and Radiation

The Hindu reports that the special adviser to the Japanese prime minister has resigned over new standards raising the allowable radiation exposure for schoolchildren in Fukushima.

The standard set for schoolchildren’s exposure to nuclear radiation in Japan’s Fukushima prefecture has caused a political furore. In prime focus is an expert’s disapproval of the “high” permissible limit set for annual exposure, at 20 millisieverts, for outdoor activities at school.

Citing this limit and the government’s alleged track record of ad hoc responses to the continuing nuclear radiation crisis, Toshiso Kosako, special adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, resigned on Friday night. However, the Japanese government on Saturday downplayed this development and said Prof. Kosako “misunderstands the situation.”

I think ‘ad hoc’ is Latin for duct tape. The Japanese government has raised the acceptable limit of exposure for workers in an emergency.

The Health Ministry recently raised the legal radiation limit that workers can be exposed to in an emergency from 100 to 250 millisieverts.

This is clearly not based on science, but necessity, and today’s news reports that 2 workers recorded exposures close to the new limit.

It’s very ’70′s and not politically correct to point out the dangers of radiation, especially to children, but this story is not going away. For the sake of the future, we must stop creating new nuclear hazards and safely deal with what we already have.

Common Dreams has the numbers and essentially, the Japanese authorities have declared it acceptable for children to be exposed to levels of radiation that would normally only be allowed for adult nuclear plant workers. This is why the arguments that there’s no danger to the public have to be challenged. The real harm may not be seen for decades, but the time to act is now.

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