Chiba City sets own tough radiation safety level for children

06/24/2011
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TOKYO (majirox news) – Noda Municipal Government in Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo has set its own maximum annual radiation exposure of 1 millisievert for children, according to the Mainichi newspaper on June 23.

Noda is ordering kindergartens, elementary and junior high schools within its bounds to take countermeasures against radiation if children are exposed to levels greater than 0.19 microsieverts per hour.

Radiation levels in northern Chiba, where Noda is located, are comparatively high, but surrounding municipalities decided not to take steps against exposure as levels did not exceed the national government’s acceptable exposure of 20 millisierverts per year. This stance angered many parents, who expressed their opposition, and Noda’s position promising strict measures against excess radiation may influence other municipalities, the newspaper said.

“We want to keep children at the lowest level of 1 millisievert annually,” said Noda Mayor Takeshi Nemoto. “To get a breakthrough in the nearby areas being called hotspots, it’s important to have a clear standard in place.”

Noda set its own acceptable radiation exposure level to match the yearly regular guideline of 1 millisievert annually set forth by the International Committee on Radiological Protection. Noda’s hourly figure was calculated based on being outdoors for eight hours. It will measure radiation levels at nursery homes, kindergartens, playgroups, elementary and junior high schools within its boundaries. Facilities or equipment where radiation is measured at higher than accepted levels will undergo more refined measurement.

Noda will also implement measures including banning entry into any area or equipment where hourly exposure has exceeded 0.3 microsieverts, recommending children wear hats, wash hands and gargle, and collecting accumulated radiation data by equipping nursery care workers with dosimeters. The countermeasures have already been implemented at a nursery care center in Noda, where hourly exposure of 0.25 microsieverts was recorded last month.

In April, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology announced a standard where it would limit outdoor activity in places where radiation exceeded 20 millisierverts annually or 3.8 microsieverts hourly. The following month, it announced a revised figure of 1 microsievert annually to reduce anxiety. The change, over, sparked confusion among parents.

Noda is one of six Chiba Prefecture cities forming a monitoring radiation committee, and of these four have radiation levels exceeding Noda. Kashiwa Mayor Hiroyasu Akiyama said Noda had its own reasons for establishing the independent guideline.

Yuki Osaku, who started a petition with over 10,000 signatories to have topsoil in Kashiwa schools and kindergartens replaced, praised the move. “I’m really envious of Noda citizens,” she said. “I want the government to hurry up and do something.”

Source: Mainichi newspaper

robert@majiroxnews.com

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