No radioactive cesium detected for 3rd year in row in 2014 survey of Miharu town kids

No radioactive cesium has been detected for the third straight year among elementary and junior high school students in Miharu, Fukushima Prefecture, in a 2014 survey on internal exposure to radiation, according to a research group’s announcement on March 13. The monitoring survey has been conducted since 2011, the year of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster, by the research team involving Ryugo Hayano, professor at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Science, and members of the Research Institute of Radiation for Disaster Recovery Support in the village of Hirata. In 2014, 1,265 of the town’s 1,315 elementary and junior high school students, or 96.2%, underwent tests for internal radiation exposure. Similar checkups were also conducted on 1,383 students in 2012 and on 2,338 in 2013, with no radioactive cesium detected in either year. In 2011, radioactive cesium was detected in 54 of 1,494 students tested. But the researchers said it was likely that the 2011 results had been influenced by cesium on the students’ clothing as they had not been told to change before taking the examination that year. “I guess it is now clear that it is fine (for residents) to live their daily lives the way they did prior to the Great East Japan Earthquake and that there is no need to be overly worried,” Hayano told a news conference at the Fukushima prefectural government office as his team published the latest survey results. In addition, the research group also surveyed the students’ parents and other guardians regarding their eating habits. Of all the families polled, 76% said they drink tap and well water, and 62% eat home-grown or locally cultivated rice. Meanwhile, 23% of the 1,265 households that responded said they avoid tap and well water due to concerns about radioactive contamination and drink bottled water instead. While one in every five said they buy rice without any particular concern about its origin, another 13% of the respondents said they avoid eating rice cultivated in Fukushima Prefecture. Similarly, 16% said they avoid Fukushima-grown vegetables. “I believe many families have been restricting their daily living (due to concerns about radioactive contamination), but I hope they can use (the test results) as reference and realize they can live more freely than they have been,” said Hayano.