American Citizen Services
Radiation, Health and Food Safety Information Post-Fukushima
- Visit the website of the Prime Minister's Office of Japan for up-to-date information on the post-March 2011 earthquake situation.
People are exposed to small amounts of radiation every day, both from naturally occurring sources (such as elements in the soil or cosmic rays), and man-made sources. Man-made sources include medical sources (such as x-rays, certain diagnostic tests, and treatments). The amount of radiation from natural or man-made sources to which people are exposed is usually small, and this "background radiation" is different in different locations. A radiation emergency, such as a nuclear power plant accident or a terrorist event, could expose people to small or large doses of radiation, depending on the situation.
After the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, Japanese and U.S. government officials took steps to protect public health. These actions included evacuating the area around the plant, alerting people who could not leave to shelter-in-place, and stopping production and distribution of food from affected areas to other parts of Japan and the world. Nonetheless, concern about the effects of radiation continues.
About radiation exposure or contamination
A person who has been exposed to radiation is not necessarily contaminated with radioactive material. A person who has been exposed to radiation has had radioactive waves or particles penetrate the body, like having an x-ray. Contamination occurs when the radioactive material gets on or inside the body. External contamination occurs when radioactive material gets on a person's body. It can be removed by changing clothing and carefully and gently washing hands, face and hair. Avoid scrubbing your skin. Scrubbing can irritate the skin, allowing radioactive material to more easily penetrate the body, resulting in internal contamination. Internal contamination occurs when radioactive material gets inside a person's body by eating or drinking contaminated food or drink, or through an open wound.
Water and Food
As in the United States, the Japanese government has set drinking water standards to protect public health. Although Japanese standards may differ from those in the United States, Japanese drinking water standards are appropriate and protective of public health.
Drinking water and environment radioactivity measurements are updated daily by Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (http://radioactivity.mext.go.jp). Also see Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare's English language website for its latest information on the safety of water and specific foods in Japan.
- Government of Japan's new standards for cesium in food and water (March 29, 2012)
- Government of Japan's Special Report on Beef Safety (Aug. 29, 2011)
- Q&A on Japanese Government Health Protections (July 27, 2011)
- Information on contamination of food by radioactive particles
- Gunma Air radiation levels, radioactivity level of tap water (Note: English website doesn't include fallout analysis.)
- Chiba Reference-English website of Disaster Prevention
- Ibaraki Reference-English website of Emergency and Disaster
- Kanagawa Reference-Earthquake Information
- Operation Tomodachi Registry by the U.S. Department of Defense
The Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation updates conditions at airfields and ports.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission:
The Environmental Protection Agency
Here you can find further information about the radioactive isotopes identified at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant site.