Parent anger plays role in Japan's reversal of raised radiation limits at schools


Cooler King
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Japan's Education Ministry has pulled an about-face, returning exposure limits for schoolchildren 1 millisievert a year. Officials will also pay for removing surface soil from affected schoolyards.[/h]The parents were furious: Why, they demanded, had Japanese officials raised the acceptable level of radiation exposure for schoolchildren near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant?

By upping the limit, children were allowed on playgrounds containing higher levels of radioactivity than had been permitted before the nearby atomic plant was damaged by the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the parents said. While it may be impossible to rid the air of dangerous isotopes, they added, the ground is a different matter. At a government-convened meeting here this month, parents demanded that authorities reinstate stricter radioactivity standards and begin stripping the top layer of soil off contaminated playgrounds. But officials stood their ground. And in a nation where polite public discourse is the norm, the dialogue quickly turned hostile. A woman in the front row cut off one spokesman:
"In the playground, in the sandbox, children put dirt into their mouths! They breathe in the dust! You should do the same! Lick the dirt!" she shouted to applause. "You wouldn't do this to your own kids!"
Under the new guidelines, the government set the upper limit of safe radiation exposure for children at 20 millisieverts per year, from 1 millisievert previously.
On Friday, Japan's Education Ministry pulled an about-face, announcing plans to return exposure limits for children at school to 1 millisievert a year. Officials said they would also cover the cost of removing the surface soil from schoolyards where the limit is exceeded.
Japan radiation children: Parent anger plays role in Japan's reversal of raised radiation limits at schools -

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