There has been no indication that things get better at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima yet. Radiation-contaminated range is widening, and people are getting afraid of children’s health even out of the evacuation areas. What can we do for children now? This is my translation of an article on the Chunichi on June 22.
“I’m afraid of my daughter because she has kept bleeding at the nose a lot for more than a week…The time was different, but my son also has had a nose bleed for a week…,” a mother, 39, was consulting with the doctor gravely. An NPO named Kakehashi to Chernobyl (Cherunobuiri-eno-kakehashi) held a free medical interview in Koriyama-shi, Fukushima on June 12, and 50 pairs of parents and children came there. Koriyama is about 50 kilometers away from Fukushima First Nuclear Power Plant.
The mother and their family had evacuated to Saitama Prefecture after the earthquake disaster once, but they returned to Koriyama at the end of March. And then the six-year-old daughter had kept bleeding at the nose for three weeks since the beginning of April. Especially, she had had a heavy bleeding from both of holes of the nose for a week. She met an ENT doctor, but was just said, “It may be caused by a pollen allergy.” The mother said, “It was the first time for her to have a pollen allergy. And she seldom has a nose bleed.” The two-year-old son also kept bleeding at the nose from the end of April to May. Dr. Yurika Hashimoto, the pediatrician, advised the mother, “I can’t determine whether it’s a damage caused by radiation now, but I suggest they have a blood test for checking their white blood cells at a hospital.”
According to the mother, 10% of students have been already gone to other places. Freshmen don’t have their student numbers this year because many children have transferred their school. It is dependent on each school whether or not they serve milk, which is easily to concentrate radioactive materials, to children. “Parents decide at my daughter’s school. She drinks milk because she doesn’t want to be ostracized from her friends.”
Mr. Syoichi Hiranaka, 40, took his four-month daughter Sakura to the medical interview from Fukushima-shi. He said bitterly, “She has no symptoms, but I’m always afraid of her health and keep her inside house. What should I do from now on?” Sakura had never seen other people instead of her parents before, and she was scared of the journalist.
The radiation counter told 2.33 micro Sv an hour at the shrubbery near the medical interview place. It went down to around 1 micro Sv when it got away a little bit from the ground. The highest was 1.38 micro Sv in Koriyama that day, when the highest 0.0635 micro Sv in Tokyo. Koriyama’s record was 8.26 micro Sv on March 15. The radiation level has been around 1.4 micro Sv since the middle of May. According to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, they regulate outdoor activities at schools where the measured figure is over 3.8 micro Sv, meanwhile, they set the radiation dosage for children is 1 mSv to 20 mSv per year. Your radiation dosage would go up easily to the level within a year if you lived in a place where the radiation level is 1.3 micro Sv an hour.
Another mother, who took her six-year-old son, said, “Everyone, doctors and scientists are saying different things. In Idate-mura, people were evacuated after the radiation level began going down. I can’t trust both of the government and the prefecture.” Her house has been newly built recently. She doesn’t know if she can afford to live in another place, or when she can come back. She can’t go anywhere when she thinks about the money and the influence on her child. According to her, the accident has created lots of problems in relationships in the family, the neighborhood, and the area. She said, “To tell the truth, I want to evacuate, but my husband is a self-defense official and says, “I’m going within a 30-kilometer radius of the plant now!” and doesn’t hear me. We always quarrel about it. In my neighborhood, people who were temporally evacuated are said, “They ran away,” behind their backs.”
Some parents came to the medical interview because of their own health problems. A father, who took his 7 year-old daughter, 38, said, “I carry on business by car in Fukushima. I had a high fever for about three months, and developed otitis media and sinusitis. I’m afraid of my condition because I seldom even have a common cold. The headquarters is outside Fukushima and my boss never understands me.” His wife said with unease, “Some infectious diseases, especially they usually spread in winter like fifth disease, are being epidemic in elementary schools now. Does it have anything to do with malfunctioning immune system?”
Ms. Miho Hattori, a volunteer staffer of the medical interview, said, “We should avoid just prompting fear of radioactivity, but should not just rely on the information source. You know, children were playing outside without any information when the accident occurred at the nuclear power plant.” Ms. Mika Noro, the represent of the NPO, said, “Parents who have extreme anxiety disorder are about 10 % in the interviewees. Most of them came because their children are clearly in abnormal condition. It tends that medical institutions don’t know whether patients’ symptoms are caused by radiation or not. It’s difficult to diagnose indeed, but it’s very important to record the fact first.”