Radioactive material believed to be from the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has been found in Japanese baby formula.
As we’ve written, the Fukushima Daiichi plant, built by General Electric, was damaged by the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11. The failure of the venting system allowed hydrogen explosions to occur, which, in turn, sent large amounts of radioactive materials into the air. While use of the venting system still would have allowed radiation to escape into the atmosphere, it would have been much less than what was released in the explosions.
Concerns about radiation from Japan prompted the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to halt the import of produce and dairy products from areas of Japan near the damaged reactors, and to screen seafood and other products imported from that country. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also stepped up monitoring of radiation in air and water in the U.S.
Now, says The New York Times, radioactive cesium traces, believed to have originated with the damaged power plant, might have made their way into baby formula in Japan., which prompted Meiji, the Tokyo-based firm that manufactures the powdered formula, to initiate a 400,000-can recall of the product. According to Meiji, said The Times, cesium levels were below safety limits set by the government. Testing, which discusses levels in terms of Becquerel, a typically-used radiation measurement standard, found that a combined 30.8 becquerels per kilogram of cesium 134 and cesium 137 were discovered; the government limit is 200, said Meiji, according to The Times.
A Fukushima-based citizens group detected the Meiji baby formula radiation and urged the firm to run tests, said The Times. A spokesman for Meiji said that airborne particles of cesium might have tainted the formula at a Saitama factory near Tokyo, and that while Meiji had been meticulous in testing for water radiation levels, it had not been as thorough filtering for airborne radioactivity, wrote The Times.
Meiji released a statement that babies could still “drink the formula every day without any effect on their health,” The Times reported, also stating that Eriko Matsuda, an official with the government-affiliated National Institute of Health Sciences, said that because formula is diluted before being given to babies, there is no need for panic.
We previously wrote about radiation from the Japan nuclear disaster making its way into U.S. milk and involving the radioactive isotope of strontium. The dangerous isotope was detected in a milk sample from Hilo, Hawaii, according to the EPA, previously. Levels were deemed lower that the Derived Intervention Level (DIL) set forth by the FDA, said the EPA. Radioactive material that likely originated from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was detected in milk in Arkansas, Arizona, and Vermont, as well as in drinking water in several U.S. cities.
Meanwhile, trace amounts of radiation from Japan were detected in air and rainwater in several U.S. states including Alaska, Alabama, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Vermont, South Carolina, and Washington. Traces of radioactive iodine-131 also turned up in samples of milk in Spokane, Washington and San Luis Obispo County, California. The EPA also detected the radioactive material iodine-131 in drinking water samples from 13 more U.S. cities.