People living near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant should have taken iodine tablets to protect them from radioactive fallout, according to a member of an advisory panel of the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan.
Gen Suzuki, who heads a clinic at the International University of Health and Welfare, told a meeting of the Japanese Association for Medical Management of Radiation Accident (JAMMRA) in Saitama on Aug. 27 that 40 percent of people tested for internal exposure to radiation may have needed iodine tablets. The Japanese government has not instructed any residents to take iodine tablets since the start of the nuclear crisis.
"Reviewing the results of external radiation exposure tests on residents (conducted on March 17 and 18, several days after the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake), I believe they should have taken iodine tablets at least once," he said.
Breathing and eating is believed to have exposed the thyroid glands of people living close to the stricken plant to relatively high levels of radioactive iodine, but iodine-131--which has a half-life of eight days--is the only iodine that has been measured in internal radiation tests because it has a long life compared with other iodines.
Yoshio Hosoi, professor of Hiroshima University, said exposure to shorter-lived iodines should be taken into account.
"Even iodine-132, which has a half-life of only two hours, needs to be considered (as a substance to be measured)," Hosoi said.
According to a March 16 analysis on the air outside a 30-kilometer radius of the plant, radioactive iodine-132 and substances that would turn into iodine-132 in about three days accounted for at least 70 percent of airborne radiation.
The analysis was conducted by RIKEN, an independent administrative institution on scientific research, and other organizations.
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