Difficulties in measuring radiation are increasing confusion in Japan. The government must weigh incomplete and sometimes contradictory data before making decisions.
Kyodo News / AP
Conflicting data on radiation levels is making it difficult to judge the dangers posed by the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant – and heightening anxiety among average Japanese.
On Thursday, store shelves across Tokyo were bare of bottled water one day after authorities warned that the level of radioactive iodine in tap water was twice the allowable level for infants. But follow-up tests conducted Thursday showed the iodine level had fallen back below acceptable limits.
Some nearby cities were showing elevated levels of radioactive iodine 131 in their municipal water supplies, however. And new estimates from Japan’s Nuclear Safety Technology Center seemed to indicate that atmospheric radiation levels might be too high for infants at some spots outside the 12-mile evacuation zone surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex.
“There is continuing scattered information about contamination exposures that is not entirely consistent,” said Edward Lyman, a senior staff scientist at the Union for Concerned Scientists, a nuclear watchdog group in Washington. “Confusion seems to be growing.”