On March 11th on 2011 Daiichi nuclear plant in Fukushima was hit with several explosions and meltdowns. This resulted into radiation of Japan food supply. Now negative effects of this arestarting to appear assmall amount of radiation was detected in green tea that was shipped from Japan to Hong Kong. This has cast a doubt on other food types that are coming from this region.
New York Times reported that powdered tea that was imported from Japanese prefecture of Chiba which is southeast of Tokyo contained some traces of radioactive cesium 137. The Hong Kong government announced this on Thursday evening but the level of radioactive components is way below the legal levels.
This is not the first discovery on radioactive traces on food substances. In March 2011 the government’s Center for Food Safety found out that three samples of vegetables from Japan contained unsatisfactory levels of radioactive contaminants. This was the same month that nuclear reactors in Fukushima suffered partial meltdown from the power earthquakes and tsunami that hit Japan.
This disaster at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant led to release of radioactive isotopes into the air. These isotopes are cesium-137, cesium-134 and iodine-131. Radioactive particles in the air are measured by Becquerel (Bq) and after this explosion about 770,000 Bq were released.Cesium-137 is dangerous than iodine-137. Cesium-137 has a half-life (amount of time it takes for the substance to reduce to half of the original) of 30 years while iodine-131 has only 8 days. The risk of iodine-131 if ingested is less than that of cesium-137.
After the explosions several food substances were reported to contain radioactive isotope of iodine and cesium. It was only in milk and several vegetables that the level was above the safe level in Fukushima. Also radioactive components were discovered in water but the level was safe for consumption except for children. Three weeks after the explosion no cesium or iodine isotopes were detected in foods that were above the safe level. By mid-April almost all restrictions on food were lifted.
All was going as expected but on May several tea producers reported presence of radioactive components on their tea. Tea from Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Chiba also tested to have radioactive components that were above the safe level. The government stopped shipment of tea from these areas on June. Shizuoka which is 350 km from Daiichi nuclear power plant and produces 40% of Japan green tea also was affected. A test was carried out and several tea plants were asked to stop their tea shipment.
The big question is whether the tea that is coming from Japan is safe or not. Most of tea that is being exported by Japan is safe for human consumption. In fact there are areas in Japan where the tea produced does not have any radiation components. Cesium is detected in tea from Shizuoka but it does not exceed the government standards. Everybody can use tea that is produced in Japan but children and pregnant women should be cautious on amount of radiation they are exposed to.