Dangerous levels of radiation have been found in Tokyo’s drinking water, reports MSNBC. Following the 8.9-magnitude earthquake and massive tsunami of March 11 that damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, radiation has seeped into the food and water supply, contaminating raw milk, leafy greens, broccoli, and now drinking water.
Following testing at a purification plant in Katsushika Ward, Tokyo, officials announced that tap water showed elevated levels of radioactive iodine: 210 becquerels per liter of iodine-131, which is more than double the recommended limit of 100 becquerels per liter for infants (300 becquerels is the recommended limit for adults). Radioactive iodine, to which infants are especially vulnerable, can cause thyroid cancer.
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Metropolitan government officials instructed parents to stop giving tap water to infants or using it in formula, but to refrain from worrying if the babies had already consumed small amounts, as there is no suggestion that these levels of radiation would pose an immediate threat to human health. Adults can continue to safely drink tap water, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano. And, Ei Yoshida, manager of Tokyo’s Waterworks Bureau, told a news conference: "The level is not dangerous unless you keep drinking the water for a long period of time. If there is nothing else to drink, you can let babies drink the water every once in a while," reports the Japan Times.
Following the reports of radiation in drinking water, convenience stores and supermarkets in Tokyo immediately sold out of their supplies of bottled water, although the Tokyo Metropolitan Government subsequently announced that it will distribute 240,000 550-mL (approx. 18 oz.) bottles of water to Tokyo households with infants. If families do not have access to sufficient bottled water, radiation experts suggested that boiling tap water could help to lessen the toxicity of the water.