Tuesday, May 31, 2011

High levels of radioactive iodine in the thyroid of two workers of the central Fukushima

High levels of radioactive iodine were detected in the thyroid gland of two workers of the nuclear accident in Fukushima, said Monday the site operator, Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO). This finding suggests that the two men, aged thirty and forty years, were exposed to radiation exceeding the limit of 250 mSv per annum set by the authorities for the duration of the crisis.

TEPCO said it was conducting tests on the bodies of employees involved in operations at Fukushima Dai-Ichi (1) since the earthquake and tsunami of March 11 that destroyed the reactor cooling plant causing the greatest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl there are twenty-five years. After an initial examination, the two workers suffered more extensive testing under the control of the Government Agency for Atomic Energy.

"The thyroid glands of two men show high levels of radiation (iodine 131)," said TEPCO, based on a report of this organization. Levels of 9760 and 7690 Bq of iodine 131 were detected, ten times more than other workers in Fukushima. Internal contamination occurs only when an individual ingests radioactive substances from the respiratory or digestive tracts, but not by external exposure.

The Jiji Press said the two workers had worked at the plant in March and April and have since left the site. They do not have symptoms yet and will have to undergo further medical examinations. A few days after the onset of the crisis in Fukushima Dai-Ichi, the government raised the limit dose of radiation that could be exposed workers on site.

It went from 100 to 250 mSv per year, a measure permitted in emergencies by international agencies. Visit our graphic "Understanding the occurrence of Fukushima in three minutes" Read our "Glossary of Nuclear

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