Two Things

Thing the first: the radiation in the Tokyo tap water is not as bad as it’s being made out to be (here’s the sound of no one’s great surprise). It’s not good to find elevated radiation levels in your tap water, of course, that’s what caused most of the health problems after Chernobyl, but Tokyo’s situation is different. Time for some facts (I’ve been reading up) to put this in perspective.

While it is true that the level of Iodine-131 in the water did exceed the legal limit for infants (which happens to be 100 bq/kg in Japan) and was approaching the legal limit for adults (which is 300 bq/kg), you need to take into account the fact that Japan’s legal limit is stricter than that of pretty much every other country in the world (including the US). This is so they can impose strict standards on food imported from other countries. So, though it sounds bad that the radiation approached the legal limit, that limit is still pretty safe. Furthermore, Iodine-131 has a half-life of eight days, which means that after a little more than a week it’s decayed by half. And, on Friday after some rain, the level dropped again. Basically, unless high levels of Cesium (more dangerous than Iodine-131) are found in the water, which has not happened and seems unlikely at this point, it’s a short-term problem that isn’t that dangerous, particularly for healthy people. Everyone’s just panicky and turning every negative development into the impending end of the world.

Also on the radiation-in-Tokyo’s-water front, I just have to point out that, back in 2008, they found a dead body in the Tokyo water supply and just ran the water through a filtration system and let people drink it. There’s been worse than increased Iodine-131 in Tokyo’s tap water. And, for the record, a banana has enough radiation to be detected by radiation sensors at US nuclear plants. One banana. Do you eat bananas? I do. Our bodies actually are equipped to deal with radiation, people, just not at very high, prolonged doses. The water situation in Tokyo isn’t, and likely won’t become, anywhere near that dire.

Should we pay attention and not just sit back complacently? Of course. Should we panic and flee? No. It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s not going to kill us. I, for one, do not intend to avoid Tokyo just because there’s more radiation than there was before.

Thing the second: I finally got around to updating my DotPhoto account (the link is in the sidebar), so there are now albums of all my Japan pictures if you want to look. I know some of you just find all of them on Facebook, but for those who can’t see my stuff there, feel free to take a look. I’m trying to be better about keeping everything up to date. The fall was hard in a lot of ways and I got behind, so now I’m making more of an effort to sort of compensate for it. The albums are dated and posted chronologically with very self-explanatory titles, so you shouldn’t have much trouble figuring out what’s what.

And that’s it for me. Over and out.

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