The municipal government of Tokyo, Japan’s largest city, is warning consumers that levels of radioactivity found in the public water distribution system have reached unsafe levels for infants and children. According to authorities in Japan, which was struck on March 11 by a devastating earthquake/tsunami and followed by the nuclear reactor disaster at Fukushima, levels of radioactive iodine in the water tested at Tokyo is now over 2 times the level considered safe for children. On March 23, Japanese authorities said that levels of radioactivity reached 210 becquerels – when a normal reading would be 100 Bq.
Tokyo is warning that children should not be given water from the taps at home. No news as to whether water would be otherwise available to infants was available.
Hidehiko Nishiyama of Japan’s nuclear safety agency said on March 23 that tests have shown that increased levels of radioactivity have been found in the seawater adjacent to the northeast coast of Japan. It said that this may be due to the use of seawater to cool exposed nuclear fuel rods at the damaged nuclear power facility at Fukushima and the release of radioactive particles into the atmosphere.
Fears of the effects of radioactive iodine on human health caused a spike in the sales of potassium iodide in the US, Europe and Japan. Taking potassium iodide can be hazardous and is recommended only for those affected near areas where high levels of radioactivity have been noted.