About 34,000 children living in Fukushima city, nearby the crippled nuclear plant, will receive radiation meters to monitor their exposure levels, according to city officials.
The plan, which will see children between the age of four and 15 receive dosimeters in September, is the largest to date. Meters have already been distributed in Fukushima city and other towns, including in schools, but not to each student.
"We intend to continue the program for about three months," said city official Koichi Kato. "We are still considering whether to expand it further to include other residents."
About 300,000 people live in Fukushima city, about 70 km away from the plant that was destroyed by the March tsunami and started an ongoing nuclear crisis in All Japan news.
The city is outside the restricted area, so schools, companies and government offices continue to operate normally. Concerns over radiation levels however remain high, with children being especially vulnerable to the effects of exposure to toxic substances.
A group that campaigns for the lowering of acceptable radiation levels in the case of children from 20 millisieverts per year (the same level as adults) to only 1 millisievert has stated that giving dosimeters to children does not mean they are protected.
"The meters don’t protect children from radiation, they simply measure exposure after a certain amount of time," said a representative of the Green Action group. "Children should be moved out of areas where radiation levels are high, not used as guinea pigs." [AP] Photo by The 621st Contingency Response Wing