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Fukushima mothers measure radiation levels in food, water and soil

By Mari Shibata

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Awesome. Instead of wallowing in fear of the unknown as an excuse to make a fuss, these women are doing something to add to our knowledge of the world. Total models for how we should be dealing with problems in this day and age.

“In universities, data is handled by qualified students, who have taken exams qualifying them to measure radiation. Here, it’s done by mothers working part-time. It’s a crazy situation,” laughed Kaori Suzuki, director of Tarachine, the non-profit organisation that houses the mothers’ radiation lab.

I am no nuclear expert myself, but just from what I've seen of university student assistants, I'm skeptical that students are automatically any more qualified than these mothers, certainly not simply because they've taken an exam. I would want these women to have access to a professor in a related field when they have questions about how to interpret their data (like any grad student would) and I'd want them to have good training in how to properly calibrate and operate their equipment. Otherwise, I see no reason not to trust their numbers.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Somebody needs to, since the powers that be won't.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Very good on these moms being proactive.

At the beginning I was just completely clueless. It gave me so much of a headache, it was a completely different world to me!” said Fumiko Funemoto, a mother of two, who measures strontium 90 at the lab. “But you start to get the hang of it as you’re in this environment every day.”

As with any job Fumiko. You learn as you go. Nothing beats on the job training and no one comes into a new job knowing everything. Keep going and good luck.

Somebody needs to, since the powers that be won't.


Strontium-90 gravitates toward the bones when absorbed by breathing it, drinking it in water, or eating it in food. It can remain for years, potentially causing bone cancer or leukemia.

If I'm not mistaken it also causes sickle cell anemia.

Here is a list of diseases associated with radiation

•Cancers of the bile ducts, bone, brain, breast, colon, esophagus, gall bladder, liver (primary site, but not if cirrhosis or hepatitis B is indicated), lung (including bronchiolo-alveolar cancer), pancreas, pharynx, ovary, salivary gland, small intestine, stomach, thyroid, urinary tract (kidney/renal, pelvis, urinary bladder, and urethra) •Leukemia (except chronic lymphocytic leukemia) •Lymphomas (except Hodgkin’s disease) •Multiple myeloma (cancer of plasma cells) •All cancers •Non-malignant thyroid nodular disease •Parathyroid adenoma •Posterior subcapsular cataracts •Tumors of the brain and central nervous system


1 ( +3 / -2 )

Somebody is doing what should have been done more in the past 6 years.

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As the lab only accepts items for testing from outside the exclusion zone, most results show comparatively low radiation levels.

The key word in this statement is, most. What about the radiation levels in those that are not part of most?

I do admire these residents for taking matters into their own hands. However, it is shameful that they cannot trust the government sponsored organizations to give correct data.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Disillusioned- excellent point

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

'The mothers say other parents trust the lab’s radioactivity readings in local food more than those from the government.'

And that says it all! All well done to those mothers!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I don't get it. Isn't this the government's job?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I don't get it. Isn't this the government's job? with the rampant manipulation of data by government bodies, mislabeling scandals etc would you trust your childs life over that of a corrupt politician!?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I'd be interested to see some comparative readings from the government and this group. That would be very informative. If they are similar great, and if they are different, good, too, because at least there is a scientific basis for action.

the “invisible enemy” of radiation has continued to worry the mothers. All we knew was that it is frightening,” said Suzuki. This is an important process and is especially reassuring to the parents of young children. This idea that it’s safe and that we shouldn’t be anxious doesn’t really add up. “My parents think I’m a bit paranoid."

The language of articles like this always frame the issue as if the problem is worry, rather than radiation levels. It's a way of framing the discussion to insinuate that anyone who states there is a health risk is emoting. Really annoying. So all power to the mothers and those who supported them to get this lab up and running to reframe the debate in terms of getting reliable scientific data about radiation levels. Knowledge is power. And much more analysis should be going on about why there is so much scepticism of the reliability of government data. For example, as stated above, by comparing.

Oh, and hello Zichi, if you're out there! Good to see a post from you. You've been missed!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

And it would be bad enough if the only contamination were only in Fukushima but it isn't! The 'move and burn' policy has also meant that vast amounts of radioactive garbage has been incinerated in Osaka, thousands of tonnes dumped in Shiga and radioactive beef consumed in Shikoku. All prefectures should perform regular testing of products and goods entering from outside prefectures. If only a small percentage were tested (as these mothers are doing) it would go some way to educating all of us as to what is and what is not safe.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

However, it is shameful that they cannot trust the government sponsored organizations to give correct data.

I don't see where they claim any of their data differs from the data from the government or from TEPCO. You would think if there was a difference they would make a big deal about it. Yet no mention of any difference is made.

0 ( +3 / -3 )


As stated in the article they publish their data online. People are making claims here with not even looking at their data. =That is highy unscientific and disingenuous.

I would like to make the claim that (non-pregnant) older people are much better suited around radiation than younger people (cells divide slower in older people).

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Pathetic. Where is JA? MIA. Now these lone women are doing their best instead. The rest of us have to fend for ourselves. I never buy anything from Fukushima and at this point probably never will. Meanwhile, Olympics full steam ahead while thousands languish in temporary housing shacks. Pathetic, Japan, really.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Thank you mothers for pursuing the truth backed by data.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

But but, the Olympics...

0 ( +2 / -2 )

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