Radioactive Iodine Found in Breast Milk of Japanese Mothers
The government faced calls for a full investigation into the impact of the nuclear disaster on mothers and babies following the discovery.
The radiation contamination came to light after tests were conducted on breast milk samples taken from nine women living northeast or east of Tokyo.
Four of these women were found to be contaminated, with the highest reading of 36.3 becquerels of radioactive iodine per kg detected in the milk of the mother of an eight-month-old baby in Kashiwa, Chiba prefecture.
There are no current legal safety levels for radioactive substances in breast milk as set by the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan.
However, the breast milk readings were below the safety limit of 100 becquerels per kg of tap water consumption by infants under one year of age and no radioactive cesium was found.
The findings of the study, conducted by a citizen’s group in Japan, has sparked concerns surrounding the impact of the nuclear crisis on mothers and babies.
”We cannot yet determine safety, but infants drink breast milk,” Kikuko Murakami, who heads the group, told Kyodo News. ”We want the government to conduct an extensive investigation swiftly.” Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is believed to have been emitting radioactive substances since it was severely damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Workers at the stricken power plant were continuing to work around the clock in increasingly challenging conditions in order to bring crucial cooling functions under control.
A Japanese newspaper meanwhile has alleged close links between Tepco, which runs the plant, and the opposition Liberal Democratic Party. Recently retired senior officials are alleged to have donated more than £140,000 to the party over the last three years.
Masataka Shimizu, the Tepco president , has said the company had not made any political donations since 1974.
Tepco denied any systematic involvement in the donations.