Early Report Suggests Low Radiation Exposure in Fukushima

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A tour of the Fukushima plant.

In the aftermath of the massive earthquake and tsunami that devastated northern Japan on March 11, concerns have focused on the lasting health impact of the radiation that leaked from the Fukushima nuclear plant, which was crippled in the disasters.

Now a preliminary report published in PLoS ONE finds that the dangers may not be as grave as we first feared. Over on TIME’s Ecocentric blog, our colleague Bryan Walsh reports:

The PLoS study, led by Ikuo Kashiwakura, found only 10 people among those surveyed with high levels of radiation exposure — and even those levels were not elevated enough to require decontamination. (The study covered March 15 to June 20.) Almost everyone else surveyed had low to nonexistent levels of radiation contamination, while the Hirosaki [University] staff members on site had undetectable radiation levels.

That’s not to say that radiation-related health problems won’t arise in the future, however, and scientists will need to keep long-term tabs on residents, Walsh reports — but it could have been much worse.

Read Walsh’s full post on Ecocentric here.