The Japan Meteorological Agency announced Thursday that Japanese cedar trees will begin releasing pollen into the air around mid-February, later than the most recent 10-year average.
Last year, pollen counts reached record levels, but the agency has forecast this year’s total to be between 30–70% of that. The agency added, however, that parts of northern and central Japan may experience a worse-than-average allergy season.
The agency advised that hot days, and sunny days following rain will bring out the worst allergy response among the general population.
There still remains some concern about radioactive cedar pollen in Fukushima Prefecture.
In December, high radiation levels of more than 250,000 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium were detected in male flowers of Japanese cedar trees in the restricted zone around the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries collected male Japanese cedar flowers from 87 locations throughout Fukushima Prefecture between late November and early December to measure radioactive cesium levels.
A ministry spokesperson said 253,000 becquerels of cesium per kilogram were detected in the flowers collected from Namie, 11.3 kilometers from the stricken plant. The ministry also said that levels exceeded 10,000 becquerels per kilogram at 29 different locations.
According to the forestry ministry, 20% of Fukushima Prefecture is forested and contains approximately 185,000 hectares of cedar trees.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of the Environment said that during the pollen season, the peak level of pollen grains in the air has been measured at 2,297 per cubic meter.
The ministry claimed that if nearby residents were to inhale this concentration of pollen for four months, they would be exposed to 0.553 microsieverts of radiation. However, the ministry added that this does not constitute a great health risk, as it amounts to roughly 10 times the background radiation level in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward.© Japan Today