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Food chain, kids could be at severe risk from Japan radioactivity

By Andrew Moran     Mar 16, 2011 in Health
Tokyo - Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan stated that more radiation was released at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Radiation has now spread from four reactors and experts say this could affect the food chain and children.
Regional radiation threats
Japan’s food and natural resources could become contaminated. Children and unborn babies are the most at risk from developing different types of cancer, thyroid cancer being the more imminent threat, and abnormalities to foetuses. These are the risks and threats Japan is facing, according to numerous exports, reports MSNBC.
Although some say that radiation leaks will not cause long-term effects, such as radiology professor at Washington University, Henry Duval Royal, notes the Calgary Herald, the Japanese government is not taking any risks.
Potassium Iodide (anti-radiation pills)
Potassium Iodide (anti-radiation pills)
“The explosions could expose the population to longer-term radiation, which can raise the risk of cancer,” said chemical pathologist at the University of Hong Kong, Lam Ching-Wam, reports Reuters. “These are thyroid cancer, bone cancer and leukemia. Children and fetuses are especially vulnerable.”
The government has implemented a plan to stock up on potassium iodide pills and issue tablets in order to prevent thyroid cancer. Furthermore, officials have evacuated approximately 180,000 people from regions located near the earthquake-crippled nuclear reactors.
Lam added: “For some individuals even a small amount of radiation can raise the risk of cancer. The higher the radiation, the higher the risk of cancer.”
There are dozens of means to be exposed to radiation. The radioactive material can be carried by moisture droplets in the air, which would then be inhaled in the lungs, become washed down by rain and land in the water or ground and then, finally, contaminate all forms of life, such as water, crops, fish and even cow’s milk.
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Old Shoe Woman/flickr
Cow’s milk can become disastrous for children because they consume more than adults. Plus, radiation can mutate DNA, which could possibly cause cancer. There is consensus among the scientific community that children are also more at risk than adults because their cells divide at a quicker rate than adults.
Worldwide risk; precautionary measures
The World Heatlh Organization (WHO) announced Wednesday that there is no significant global spread of radiation from Japan, according to Reuters. The WHO urged everyone to not spread rumors and remain calm.
Nevertheless, nations are taking precautions. Shanghai authorities are conducting detailed scans of Japan imports, including cargo (containers, vehicles, posts), food (grains, water, seafood) and Japanese visitors, notes Reuters.
If there is a detection of radiation then the Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau would carry out quarantines.
Aerial shot of Japanese nuclear plant.
Aerial shot of Japanese nuclear plant.
U.S. News reports that it is unlikely that radiation from Japan will reach North America. Program director for radiation medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center's Center for Biophysical Assessment and Risk Management Following Irradiation, Jacqueline Williams, said the chances of it happening are “close to zero.”
“Obviously, what's happening [in Japan] is changing from moment to moment,” said Williams. “But there seems to be very little in the way to fear.”
Meanwhile, in Russia’s Far East, officials have rejected rumors that a significant amount of radiation will reach Russia, reports Ria Novosti. Authorities say that radiation rose only slightly, but stayed within average levels.
A rescue mission of unprecedented proportions is underway in northeast Japan  where tens of thousand...
A rescue mission of unprecedented proportions is underway in northeast Japan, where tens of thousands people are feared dead following Japan's 8.9 earthquake and tsunami.
Japanese Defense Ministry
“Even in the worst possible weather conditions, the scale of the radiation leak would not be large enough to pose a serious threat to the Russian Far East,” said chief of the Russian emergencies ministry's Sakhalin branch, Taimuraz Kasayev.
The Japanese government has put the death toll at 3,676, but it is expected to soar to 10,000, notes CBS News. Approximately 8,000 people are still missing and 434,000 people are homeless and/or living in shelters.
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