If the workers are being exposed to way too much radiation to get anything done… ah, no worries, change the maximum allowable dose and they’re good to go. (Japan raised its limit from 100,000 microSievert per year (µSv/yr) to 250,000 µSv/yr in the week following the Fukuchima Daiichi disaster). Not that 250 mSv suddenly became safer… but it is now ‘acceptable.’ And so when a TEPCO worker received a sudden dose of 180,000 µSv, it was subsequently reported as “well below the maximum allowed dose”. Laws can come in handy for perception management, apparently.
Next in line: food safety laws! Rest assured: radionuclide levels are well below those considered dangerous, if not, the government is making sure of that…
First a quick look at what’s being measured:
Trace amounts of iodine-131 and Cesium-137 have been detected across the USA and in several places in Europe… Even after crossing the Pacific, North America and the Atlantic, Iodine-131 showed up in at 8.5 Bq/L in rainwater in France last week (See here for more on that: http://www.euractiv.com/en/cap/france-detects-radioactive-iodine-rainwater-milk-news-503756 ).
Rainwater measurements at UC Berkeley in the San Francisco Bay Area for I-131 reached a peak measurement of 20 Bq/L on March 24th, but otherwise it’s been more in the 5-10 Bq/L range. (note that just 5 times that peak level would make that rainwater too dangerous for infants to drink on a regular basis) For Cesium-137, it’s still reaching values of 0.5 Bq/L in rainwater in that part of California, which may be quite significant if an obvious down-trend doesn’t emerge in the coming weeks. Most areas along the West Coast and across the US aren’t even being tested. Check on radiation levels in the US, including link to UC Berkeley’s Air and Water sampling, see my USA page.
And with all this heightened awareness about radioactive pollution in food, what exactly is being done…?
- On the nuttier end of government arrogance, Canada is outright REFUSING to do more testing, according to this April 2, 2011 article in the Vancouer Sun: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Canadian+inspection+agency+refuses+test+milk+radiation/4548777/story.html
- The European Union‘s response? Lowering food standards. See here (in German; copy-paste it into Google Translate if you want another language to read it in): http://foodwatch.de/kampagnen__themen/radioaktivitaet/nachrichten/eu_plaene/index_ger.html
- The USA‘s response? According to The Tennessean, citing PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility), The US EPA is about to lower the drinking water standards for radionuclides 1,000+ fold: http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110316/NEWS08/110316027/1969/NEWS/Group-warns-EPA-ready-increase-radioactive-release-guidelines-?odyssey=nav%7Chead
Weird… I thought there was “no reason for concern” to begin with…?