U.S. doctors hit Tokyo radiation limit for kids

Kyodo

Physicians for Social Responsibility, a U.S. nonprofit organization of medical experts, has condemned as “unconscionable” the Japanese government’s safety standards on radiation levels at elementary and junior high schools in nuclear disaster-stricken Fukushima Prefecture.

The PSR statement directly challenges Tokyo’s stance that it is safe for schoolchildren to use school playgrounds in the prefecture as long as the dose they are exposed to does not exceed 20 millisieverts over a year.

The PSR view is also in line with that voiced by Toshiso Kosako, who said Friday he would step down as an adviser to Prime Minister Naoto Kan on the Fukushima nuclear crisis in protest. The University of Tokyo professor urged the government to toughen guidelines on upper limits on radiation levels the education ministry recently announced for elementary school playgrounds in Fukushima.

The U.S. group said in a statement released Friday, “Any exposure, including exposure to naturally occurring background radiation, creates an increased risk of cancer.

“Children are much more vulnerable than adults to the effects of radiation, and fetuses are even more vulnerable,” it said.

The medical experts group is part of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize.

“(Twenty millisieverts) for children exposes them to a 1 in 200 risk of getting cancer. And if they are exposed to this dose for two years, the risk is 1 in 100. There is no way that this level of exposure can be considered ‘safe’ for children,” the statement said.