Water in Tokyo is not safe for babies to drink
Published 24/03/2011 | 05:00
Parents in Tokyo have been told that the city's tap water is not safe for babies to drink after radiation from Japan's stricken nuclear plant affected the capital's supply.
Some samples contained more than double the legal limit of radioactive iodine. The discovery increased concerns about food and water safety nearly two weeks after the earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands and damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, leading to a radiation leak.
People in cities in Japan's northeast had already been advised not to drink tap water due to elevated levels of radioactive iodine, which can cause thyroid cancer. Until yesterday, levels in Tokyo tap water had been minute, according to officials. A treatment centre in central Tokyo that supplies much of the city's water yesterday reported that some samples contained 210 becquerels per litre of the radioactive isotope iodine-131.
A city official said: "Under government guidelines, water containing a radioactive substance of more than 100 becquerels per kilogram should not be used for babies." He added that experts insisted it was safe for adults to drink tap water.
The death toll from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami has also been revised upwards to 9,487 dead and 15,617 missing, making it the biggest natural disaster in Japan since an estimated 105,000 people died in the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake.
The crisis is expected to cost up to €219bn, according to a new government estimate, making it the world's most expensive natural disaster.
Earlier in the day, Naoto Kan, Japan's prime minister, instructed the governor of Fukushima prefecture to order residents not to eat leaf vegetables grown in the area after radioactivity far beyond legal limits was found in 11 varieties.
The US Food and Drug Administration said all milk and milk products and fresh fruits and vegetables from four Japanese prefectures would be stopped from entering the country.
Hong Kong has already banned a variety of foodstuffs, while other countries including China are monitoring imports.
Optimism that the damaged reactors at the Fukushima plant had been brought under control was tempered yesterday when smoke from the Number three reactor forced authorities to recall repair teams. (© Daily Telegraph, London)