TOKYO — Radioactive iodine detected in the capital’s water supply spurred a warning for infants on Wednesday as the government issued a stark new estimate about the costs of rebuilding from the earthquake and tsunami that slammed into the northeast of the country this month.It probably is true that the health risks are not that great, but the optics are terrible.
Ei Yoshida, head of water purification for the Tokyo water department, said at a televised news conference that infants in Tokyo and surrounding areas should not drink tap water. He said iodine-131 had been detected in water samples at a level of 210 becquerels per liter. The recommended limit for infants is 100 becquerels per liter.
For adults, the recommended limit is 300 becquerels.
The Health Ministry said in a statement that it was unlikely that there would be negative consequences to infants who did drink the water, but said it should be avoided if possible and that it should not be used to make infant formula.
The warning applies to the 23 wards of Tokyo, as well as the towns of Mitaka, Tama, Musashino, Machida and Inagi to the west of the city.
The good thing is that Iodine 131 has a half life of only eight days, so when the authorities can bring the reactor under control, the iodine should go away pretty quickly.