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Radiation exposure: How big is the threat in Japan?

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On Sunday, Fukushima reactor 3 was vented again at which point there is believed to have been a partial meltdown in the reactor. A company spokesman stated that the radiation released thus far did not pose a health risk to humans. Later that day the cooling system in reactor 2 failed, and more radioactive steam was control-released.

The concern is that that radioactive steam will eventually fall back to earth and contaminate food and water supplies.

On Monday, reactor 3 experienced a hydrogen explosion that blew the roof off its containment building. On Tuesday, a fire broke out at the fourth reactor and there were reports that the storage pond, holding spent fuel rods, had boiled over. The fire was extinguished, but Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said that more radiation was released as a result and that "now we are talking about levels that can damage human health."

Edano went on to warn, "Please do not go outside. Please stay indoors. Please close windows and make your homes airtight. Don't turn on ventilators. Please hang your laundry indoors."

With radiation close to the reactors measuring four times higher than the maximum allowable limit of 100,000 microsieverts per hour, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, residents are asking: How dangerous it is around Fukushima?


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