Panel asks to raise radiation exposure limit

10/06/2011
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The Japanese Radiation Council of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports Science and Technology (MEXT) will propose to provisionally set new guidelines for radiation levels on October 6.

These guidelines will be based on the decision that keeping the current limit of 1 mSv (millisieverts) per year for citizens in Japan is too difficult to maintain due to the ongoing nuclear crisis at Fukushima’s nuclear power plant.

Japan’s Nuclear Safety Commission has temporarily accepted a citizens’ radiation limit of 1 to 20 millisieverts per year, which is a wide range. However, this provisional limit is controversial for endangering the health of Japanese citizens, especially for pregnant women and mothers who worry about their children’s health as it allows a maximum of 20 millisieverts per year.

In April, MEXT sent out a directive that an average annual radiation exposure of 20 millisieverts in schoolyards would be safe. However, this move sparked opposition led by parents of schoolchildren and MEXT announced at the end of May that it would abide by the ICRP’s guideline of an annual maximum exposure of 1 millisievert for ordinary citizens.

The Radiation Council will discuss officially setting a new immediate target limit as the effects of the nuclear crises continue. The long-term goal is 1 millisieverts per year. The council will also ask for special attention for children and pregnant women who are susceptible to the effects of radiation exposure.

The council will stress that the target limit does not mean “it is definitely safe,” but will set a guideline to lower the radiation dose for citizens, as the long-term effects of low doses of radiation are still unknown.

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