Small amounts of radioactive iodine found in breast milk of women

04/21/2011 22:53



A citizen’s group concerned about the impact on mothers and babies of the radioactive leaks from a crippled nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture said Wednesday that small amounts of radioactive iodine have been found in the breast milk of four women living east or northeast of Tokyo.

Of the samples provided by the four women, the breast milk of the mother of an 8-month-old baby in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, contained the highest level of 36.3 becquerels of radioactive iodine per kilogram, but no radioactive cesium was found, the group said.

The Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan has not set safety levels for radioactive substances in breast milk, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry. But the reading was below the safety limit of 100 becquerels per kg for tap water consumption by infants under 1 year old.

‘‘We cannot yet determine safety, but infants drink breast milk,’’ said Kikuko Murakami, who heads the group. ‘‘We want the government to conduct an extensive investigation swiftly.’‘

The samples of around 120 to 130 milliliters each were offered by nine women in Chiba, Miyagi, Fukushima and Ibaraki prefectures on March 24 and 30. The group had them analyzed at a private-sector radiation measurement company.

According to the group, milk from a woman in Moriya, Ibaraki Prefecture, contained 31.8 becquerels of radioactive iodine, but the second test for her showed a lower reading of 8.5 becquerels.

Milk from two women in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, contained 8.7 and 6.4 becquerels.

Meanwhile, no radioactive iodine was detected in the breast milk of four women in the city of Fukushima, the town of Tanakura in Fukushima Prefecture, Shiroishi in Miyagi Prefecture and Tsukubamirai in Ibaraki Prefecture.

The group said breast milk from a woman in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, was still being analyzed.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on the Pacific coast of Fukushima Prefecture has spewed radioactive materials into the air and sea since it was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which devastated the country’s northeast.



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