Following last year’s nuclear disaster in Fukushima, there has been a great deal of public concern over the contamination of local food sources and water and now, newly constructed buildings can be added to the list of radiation fears in Japan. A three-month-long survey of students in Nihonmatsu City turned city officials onto the presence of high levels of radiation in one recently built three-story apartment complex. Concrete used to construct the building included broken pieces of stone quarried from Namie Town, a condemned area near Fukushima reactor number one.
Photo © Jennifer Boyer
From September to November, one female student recorded an exposure of what would amount to 1.62 millisieverts per year. While there is still plenty of contention as to whether this level of exposure constitutes a health risk, the government has established an annual limit of 1 millisieverts per year – the amount the student was exposed to is well over that threshold. The district traced the radiation back to the girl’s recently constructed condo where dosimeters were able to detect from 0.7 to 1.24 microsieverts per hour from various parts of the structure including its foundation, floors, walls, and stairways.
At least 19 companies have admitted to accepting some of the thousands of cesium-rich stone pieces sourced from Namie Town. The town was made into an evacuation zone soon after the disaster because annual radiation exposure in the area was up to 20 millisieverts in some areas. Ironically, a majority of the 12 families living in the 11 millisievert building were displaced from Namie Town, which is now a no-entry area due to health risks, reported The Daily Yomiuri.
The Japanese government is working on tracing the final destinations of the possibly contaminated building materials.