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I was shocked to see that the July 23 question-and-answer article, “Are worries over meat warranted?,” made it past editorial screening. For starters, I refer to the last paragraph of the first answer: “The 82.65 microsieverts compares with the 100 microsieverts of radiation a person would be exposed to during a one-way flight from Tokyo to New York.”

I thought by now that it would be clear, even to the less scientifically versed, that comparing external exposure (during a flight) and internal exposure (from ingested or inhaled radionuclides) is like comparing apples and oranges.

Then, as the answer to the last question in the article — “Why is food not being checked for other radioactive materials such as uranium, plutonium and strontium?” — we are told that the reason is that “the amount of these substances in the soil and atmosphere is far smaller than radioactive iodine and cesium, according to Hirotaka Oku, an official at the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry.”

Aren’t journalists supposed to form views independently of government sources? That’s what journalism traditionally is.

A Google search (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/%12754809) would reveal to the “journalist” writer that strontium is harder to measure because you need chemical separation. You cannot detect it, as you can cesium, with gamma spectrum analysis. There has been very little testing for strontium. Failing to test for it is not the same as proving it’s not there — in the case of the 1,500 cows shipped from Fukushima Prefecture.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

hendrik warntjes

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