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Tests show Japanese children exposed to radiation

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School children in Japan registered low levels of radiation exposure in communities surrounding the Fukushima reactors.

A satellite view of the Fukushima reactor damage.

Children living in communities nearby the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdowns have registered low-levels of radioactive exposure.

The Japanese government tested the thyroid glands of 1,500 school children living between 38 to 47 kilometers (24 to 29 miles) from the reactors and found that nearly half absorbed radioactive iodine during the crisis in March.

The thyroid is particularly susceptible to radioactive iodine, is known to cause cancer in harmful doses. None of the children were exposed to radiation beyond established safety limits, Bloomberg reports.

Japan’s Nuclear Safety Commission does not consider the levels to be harmful; however, some scientists contend that any radiation above normal background radiation poses a risk.

That’s why you must sign a waver before receiving X-Rays that penetrate the thyroid at a hospital, and some Americans flocked to the Web to buy potassium iodide in response to the disaster.

Radioactive iodine is also used in medicine to treat thyroid cancer and to shrink the gland in patients who have overactive thyroids.

Japanese authorities are also actively gauging the extent of radioactive contamination from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in crops through a comprehensive testing regimen. There is concern that rice, the country’s traditional staple crop, could be unsafe.

Japanese authorities suspended beef shipments from the Fukushima region in July. Rice straw cows absorbed unsafe levels of cesium through their feed stocks.

(Photo Credit: DigitalGlobe)

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David Worthington

Contributing Editor

David Worthington has written for BetaNews, eWeek, PC World, Technologizer and ZDNet. Formerly, he was a senior editor at SD Times. He holds a business degree from Temple University. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure