2015 Volume 91 Issue 8 Pages 440-446
BABYSCAN, a whole-body counter (WBC) for small children was developed in 2013, and units have been installed at three hospitals in Fukushima Prefecture. Between December, 2013 and March, 2015, 2707 children between the ages of 0 and 11 have been scanned, and none had detectable levels of radioactive cesium. The minimum detectable activities (MDAs) for 137Cs were ≤3.5 Bq kg−1 for ages 0–1, decreasing to ≤2 Bq kg−1 for ages 10–11. Including the 134Cs contribution, these translate to a maximum committed effective dose of ∼16 µSv y−1 even for newborn babies, and therefore the internal exposure risks can be considered negligibly small.
Analysis of the questionnaire filled out by the parents of the scanned children regarding their families’ food and water consumption revealed that the majority of children residing in the town of Miharu regularly consume local or home-grown rice and vegetables, while in Minamisoma, a majority avoid tap water and produce from Fukushima. The data show, however, no correlation between consumption of locally produced food and water and the children’s body burdens.