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Radiation found in domestic vegetables

[ 2011-04-07 10:54]     字号 [] [] []  
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Minute traces of radiation "not harmful to human health" from the crippled Japanese nuclear plant have been detected in vegetables planted on the Chinese mainland, the Ministry of Health said on Wednesday in an online statement.

It is the first report that home-grown food has been contaminated by radioactivity, largely Iodine-131, since the ministry ordered radiation tests on food and water at the end of March in 14 mainland regions including Beijing, Tianjin, and some costal provinces.

Sample inspections conducted on Tuesday found low levels of radioactive iodine in spinach planted in Beijing, Tianjin and Henan province - about 1-3 becquerels per kilogram, the statement said.

"The contamination level detected is too low to be harmful to public health," it said.

According to health experts, radioactive iodine can accumulate in humans once ingested in high concentrations and increases the risk of thyroid cancer. But it decays naturally within weeks.

Leafy vegetables grown in the open like spinach, lettuce and leek are among the first foods to be tainted by radioactive deposits.

Raw milk is also susceptible to radioactive contamination as livestock feed on grass.

Tests carried out in March showed spinach and milk taken from farms near Japan's stricken nuclear plant had exceeded government-set safety limits for radiation.

No cases of tainted water or milk have been reported in China but the ministry vowed to further strengthen monitoring.

Wang Zhongwen, a researcher at the China Institute of Atomic Energy's radiation safety department, told China Daily on Wednesday that currently China only had the means to conduct food radiation tests in a few regions.

The statement also said that recent rain in Beijing and Tianjin meant radioactive substances could have fallen on vegetables.

Trace levels of radioactive isotope cesium-137 and -134 were detected in the air in 21 provinces and regions on Wednesday, up from 17 on Tuesday, according to China's National Nuclear Emergency Coordination Committee.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Radiation found in domestic vegetables

About the broadcaster:

Radiation found in domestic vegetables

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.