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Fukushima tea

I have a question. Is tea from Fukushima radioactive?

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Fukushima radiation January 2013
by: Anonymous

According to a news report, a fish was caught off the coast of the Fukushima disaster with over 2500 times the legally allowed radiation:

Investigators suggest that there may still be ongoing leakages of caesium 134 and caesium 137 to account for the currently contaminated fish.

It is not reported if leakages actually exist or if they are restricted to ocean contamination.

The primary Japanese tea fields are hundreds of miles away and continue to closely monitor their products.

However, radiation from Fukushima has been reported in different areas of the Northern hemisphere, and some of the isotopes may persist for years.

Fukushima testing results on farmland November 16, 2011

Apparently Japan has started burning radioactive waste which may contaminate the air and the waste processing equipment. Also they are considering temporary burial of contaminated soil in the national forests.

How long is temporary? And what happens to those areas if they do find permanent storage for the contaminated soil?

Here are two links to stories about how much of Japan was contaminated according to international testing and reviews:

This does not look good. There are still areas contaminated by Chernobyl that can't be used today.

radioactive dust in rainwater
by: Anonymous

Tokyo has recently reported micro "hot spots" of radioactivity from the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, more than 150 miles away.

Some spots are 50 times more radioactive than nearby ones, on sidewalks and in ditches.

The difference is attributed to accumulations of radioactive dust in rainwater which have pooled and concentrated in small areas.

Since these micro variations depend on wind, weather, and topographical features, it is still unknown how they have affected agriculture like tea-growing or rice production.

Uji sencha tea
by: Anonymous

My usual sencha tea has disappeared from shelves..

I just bought another Sencha from Uji prefecture, on the label is written: produced by the family Nagata (organic).

Should I get it tested for bequerels??

Response: Uji is a city near Kyoto in the south and on the opposite side of the main island from Fukushima, away from the prevailing winds.

However, the total airborne spread of radiation onto specific farm locations throughout Japan is not updated.

This means we are all in the position of caveat emptor, or buyer beware.

You can always try to contact the distributor if that information or address is on the label, or you can test your tea yourself (and your environment) if you have the capacity.

Some government authorities are saying that since tea is diluted in water, drinking daily tea that is slightly contaminated above the allowed limits is still not a health risk.

Since the disaster at Fukushima nuclear reactor is not yet stable and there may be unknown leakages or future radiation leaks, this means that consumers can question and/or test everything they buy.

In general, at this time, Japan seems to be doing a fairly responsible job of removing products when they are proven radioactive.

I am trying to keep track of news reports and will post updates on this website.

Manmade radiation seems to be part of the world we are all living in today. I remember the above ground atomic bomb tests, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and now Fukushima.

The greatest danger is to children who are the most vulnerable to risk for cancers from this kind of environment.

Thyroid cancer in children from radioactive iodine is fairly well documented, but the long-term consequences from the other isotopes is not yet proven for human beings. That is something we are all going to find out in the coming decades.

Update September 23, 2011

The situation in Japan regarding radiation contamination is still changing because of weather (typhoons). There is also new information released by the government about hotspots.

An additional concern is processing radioactive waste, including sewage. There are some reports that waste may be processed into fertilizer without regard for lasting radioactivity being passed into the fertilized soil or even contaminating the processing plants.

Until the whole disaster is contained, including all waste products, it will be impossible to predict what might be contaminated. People would have to have individual geiger counters to know for certain what is in their own personal environment.

I still choose to continue drinking my daily Japanese sencha green tea to help protect against all sources of radiation in the environment, as well as other health benefits. However, I am also looking for additional sources of daily green tea from other areas of the world that might have reduced contamination.

Sharon Jones, editor,

Sharon Jones, editor

Japanese tea growing areas
by: Sharon, editor

Fukushima is in northern Japan.

Almost all of Japan's tea growing areas are in southern Japan.

Reports as of April 15 indicate that airborne radioactive fallout in those areas has been extremely small, probably equivalent to the general increase over the whole Northern Hemisphere. The vast majority of radiation, so far, impacts the local area and the ocean.

In a recent interview by Dan Lief published by Fresh Cup Magazine, Yasuharu Matsumoto, the vice-president of Kyoto Obubu Tea Plantations, stated that of the 86,000 tons of green tea produced by Japan in 2009, only 400 tons are produced in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, the three prefectures affected by the tsunami and Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.

Another company, O-Cha, has posted that all of their tea comes from Shizuoka Prefecture in the south. Their Iwaki office was demolished and they have moved operations to Uji, stating they have heard of no reports of radioactive contaminated products in southern Japan.

If you're asking about drinking green tea from Japan, it seems to be as safe as any food product in the Northern Hemisphere (barring future nuclear problems, of course).

Furthermore, green tea (and clays, ginsengs, etc.) may help protect against radiation in itself.

This is the best information available at this time. Note: as of June 3, 2011, CNN reports that Japan is now restricting the shipment of both dried and fresh green teas from four Prefectures near Fukushima nuclear power plant: Ibaraki, Chiba, Kanagawa, and Fukushima Prefectures.

Kanagawa is actually southwest of Tokyo and reported that cesium tested higher than the legal limit. This area is considered an unusual radiation "hotspot" after the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns.

This restriction affects only a tiny portion of Japanese tea production.

According to the Japan Times, in early July, 2011, there were 7 tea factories in Shizouka Prefecture reporting radiation levels of 581 to 981 becquerels per kilogram of tea leaves. The government safety limits are set at 500 becquerels per kilogram for vegetables.

Since tea is used in a water-diluted form, the Shizuoka government states that there is no danger from these tea leaves, even if used daily.

However, the 7 factories were asked to voluntarily recall their products that test over the limits.

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