Radiation and Tea in Japan


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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby kikula » Sep 15th, '13, 13:37

JBaymore wrote:Trigga,

I spent this summer in Japan making pottery and doing some museum research. Returned about 3 weeks ago. I am there just about every year. I was there in 2011 right after the earthquake, tsunami, and meltdowns also. In fact twice in 2011. Deliberately went thru Sendai and into the Tohoku region.

If you are there... you know that the press there is covering the situation at Fukushima at a pretty high level. Much more than we get here in the States (since I have returned home). Stuff we are just hearing about now in our media here I saw months ago in Japan. Things that were said would not likely work in the Japanese press or that were really bad ..... the local press is NOT yet saying.

That being said...........

I can think of no country in the world (except maybe Russia...with Cherynoble) where the populace would be more "sensitive" to issues of radiation. They are the only nation that has had nuclear bombs used in warfare on their territory. So I would imagine that there is a "collective gestalt" about the potential dangers of radiation that kind of absorbed as one grows up in that culture. Likely that fear is a bit "larger than life".

So how do you "weigh" the accuracy of the concerns of those people you are meeting? Are they scientists, or laypeople? What information are they basing their fears upon? It is human nature to say things like, "It is really bad over there but things are fine here." It makes you feel better about your situation.

I've seen conflicting information out of many different sources there in Japan. Since in 2011 as a college professor I was responsible for taking college students to Japan, I spent a LOT of time researching the science behind radiation exposure and such. I teach technical ceramics, so I have a bit of a "Tech Weenie" side to me.

The upshot of that information (and I still watch what I can since I go there so often) said that for the most part, other than very close in to Fukushima Daichi, and other than for long term exposures (living there), it is not all that bad. I personally wouldn't eat stuff grown in Fukushima-ken or some of the immediate close downwind locations, and I certainly would not eat seafood from that section of the coast.

And if teas have been tested....... and show level below the current regulation point..... I wouldn't really worry too much about that either. I brought some Shizuoka tea home with me.

I am NOT in any way downplaying the mess at Fukushima at ALL. It is a disaster that we have not yet figured out HOW to contain. It is not a Japanese problem... it is everyone's problem....... becasue there are such reactors everywhere. It CAN happen here. I personally think the freezing the ground approach is a pie in the sky approach... and expect it to take longer than planned and not work as planned. Then they'll be on to "Plan Q".

People get hysterical when the word "radiation" comes up. Some of that fear is warranted..... but most is not based in facts or science.

best,

......................john


And human beings are hardwired to respond much more strongly to threatening/negative stimuli than to reassuring/positive incoming data. That's a good thing, it prevents us from being distracted by the lovely flowers when a bear is approaching, but as a retired psychotherapist I'm especially acutely aware of distortion that accrues when limbic system alarms go off (and tangle with memory etc., as you point out) in more ambiguous situations. It also seems obvious to remember that the threat to growers, distributers and much larger governing interests in all of this will trigger conflicting and emotionally charged distortions, too - it's not necessarily dishonest on either end, just a matter of reflexive information selection.
I'm no expert in any of this though I do touch in on related news, blogs, etc. Given the fairly frequent flow of "new disclosures" from the site, relevant to tea or not, I only would say that vendors who continue to privately test and publish verifiable results despite higher government standards (also controversial because of new testing methodology, as I understand it) would reassure buyers in the most direct and immediate way. Is that testing an expensive or terribly time consuming process? Why not just make that a standard procedure until people, in Japan and elsewhere, are no longer anxious about the issue, irritatingly reactive as they might seem?
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Trigga » Sep 17th, '13, 01:58

Chip wrote:Hello, Trigga. Thank you for posting. Please post your Vlog under TeaBlogs and Vlogs.


Thanks Chip, just posted the link to one of my videos in that forum.
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Trigga » Sep 17th, '13, 02:24

JBaymore wrote:Trigga,

I spent this summer in Japan making pottery and doing some museum research. Returned about 3 weeks ago. I am there just about every year. I was there in 2011 right after the earthquake, tsunami, and meltdowns also. In fact twice in 2011. Deliberately went thru Sendai and into the Tohoku region.

If you are there... you know that the press there is covering the situation at Fukushima at a pretty high level. Much more than we get here in the States (since I have returned home). Stuff we are just hearing about now in our media here I saw months ago in Japan. Things that were said would not likely work in the Japanese press or that were really bad ..... the local press is NOT yet saying.

That being said...........

I can think of no country in the world (except maybe Russia...with Cherynoble) where the populace would be more "sensitive" to issues of radiation. They are the only nation that has had nuclear bombs used in warfare on their territory. So I would imagine that there is a "collective gestalt" about the potential dangers of radiation that kind of absorbed as one grows up in that culture. Likely that fear is a bit "larger than life".

So how do you "weigh" the accuracy of the concerns of those people you are meeting? Are they scientists, or laypeople? What information are they basing their fears upon? It is human nature to say things like, "It is really bad over there but things are fine here." It makes you feel better about your situation.

I've seen conflicting information out of many different sources there in Japan. Since in 2011 as a college professor I was responsible for taking college students to Japan, I spent a LOT of time researching the science behind radiation exposure and such. I teach technical ceramics, so I have a bit of a "Tech Weenie" side to me.

The upshot of that information (and I still watch what I can since I go there so often) said that for the most part, other than very close in to Fukushima Daichi, and other than for long term exposures (living there), it is not all that bad. I personally wouldn't eat stuff grown in Fukushima-ken or some of the immediate close downwind locations, and I certainly would not eat seafood from that section of the coast.

And if teas have been tested....... and show level below the current regulation point..... I wouldn't really worry too much about that either. I brought some Shizuoka tea home with me.

I am NOT in any way downplaying the mess at Fukushima at ALL. It is a disaster that we have not yet figured out HOW to contain. It is not a Japanese problem... it is everyone's problem....... becasue there are such reactors everywhere. It CAN happen here. I personally think the freezing the ground approach is a pie in the sky approach... and expect it to take longer than planned and not work as planned. Then they'll be on to "Plan Q".

People get hysterical when the word "radiation" comes up. Some of that fear is warranted..... but most is not based in facts or science.

best,

......................john


Thanks for the thoughtful, and sincere response John. I agree with most of what you said, however, I feel that the coverage over here is pathetic. Maybe things have changed more recently, but I've heard about many things from calling my parents as opposed to television news. I haven't seen anything about the Fukushima disaster on the news since being here actually. Especially since the Olympics will be held in Tokyo, all I hear about is that.
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Trigga » Sep 17th, '13, 03:49

here's a somewhat recent youtube video that I think shows the ugly side of the situations. Government seems to be trying to hide these issues. I think the same would probably happen anywhere in the world.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hwn1PU6GiPQ
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby JBaymore » Sep 17th, '13, 09:16

Trigga wrote: ...........I feel that the coverage over here is pathetic. Maybe things have changed more recently, but I've heard about many things from calling my parents as opposed to television news. I haven't seen anything about the Fukushima disaster on the news since being here actually. Especially since the Olympics will be held in Tokyo, all I hear about is that.


Hummm....... interesting. Must be the impact of the coming Tokyo Olympics. From the time I got there to the time I left, terebi and shimbun coverage was constant and relatively heavy. Nihongo coverage was pften more circumspect, Eigo coverage was often more direct.

Are your parents Japanese? Or are you getting info from another part of the world?

Of COURSE the government doesn't want the full truth out there........ that is true of every government in the world, I'd guess. And particularly with the Olympics thing coming.

The "on topic" upshot...... I wouldn't worry too much about the tea.

best,

.....................john
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Trigga » Sep 17th, '13, 20:17

I'm getting my info from other parts of the world, I'm from Chicago. Thanks for your insight John.
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Kevangogh » Sep 18th, '13, 04:44

I'm in Japan, Fukushima specifically, and I see it on the news just about everyday so I don't know how you can say they are not covering it.

Yes, there are or was some problems with leakage out of the tanks, I'm sure some of that is seeping back into the ocean. It's not going up into the air anymore, however. Nor is it going to flow all the way down to where I am or Tokyo, etc, etc.

I'm 38 km south of that plant and our average levels here are around 0.15 microseverts per hour, less the natural radiation levels of London. It's measured every day 1 cm and 1 meter from the ground all over the prefecture. Life has returned to normal here. No one is freaking out here because we live it and we know what the reality is. Sure, if you get right up close to the plant, the levels are through the roof. It doesn't mean all of Fukushima, or Japan for that matter, is a nuclear waste zone. Those are the facts. If some guy in Shikoku is afraid to eat produce from areas north of him, it doesn't make him right, it makes him ignorant.

Just because you are in Japan and some farmer told you something doesn't make it true. There are people who sincerely believe it wasn't a jet that hit the Pentagon on 9/11 and no amount of reasoning with them will convince them otherwise. The only thing hysteria does is continue to harm people who've already been through enough misery. I wouldn't believe everything that everyone in Japan tells you, just like anywhere else there are plenty of ignorant people here too.
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby JBaymore » Sep 18th, '13, 08:00

Well said, Kevangogh.

best,

.............john
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Trigga » Sep 18th, '13, 18:05

Kevangogh wrote:I'm in Japan, Fukushima specifically, and I see it on the news just about everyday so I don't know how you can say they are not covering it.

Yes, there are or was some problems with leakage out of the tanks, I'm sure some of that is seeping back into the ocean. It's not going up into the air anymore, however. Nor is it going to flow all the way down to where I am or Tokyo, etc, etc.

I'm 38 km south of that plant and our average levels here are around 0.15 microseverts per hour, less the natural radiation levels of London. It's measured every day 1 cm and 1 meter from the ground all over the prefecture. Life has returned to normal here. No one is freaking out here because we live it and we know what the reality is. Sure, if you get right up close to the plant, the levels are through the roof. It doesn't mean all of Fukushima, or Japan for that matter, is a nuclear waste zone. Those are the facts. If some guy in Shikoku is afraid to eat produce from areas north of him, it doesn't make him right, it makes him ignorant.

Just because you are in Japan and some farmer told you something doesn't make it true. There are people who sincerely believe it wasn't a jet that hit the Pentagon on 9/11 and no amount of reasoning with them will convince them otherwise. The only thing hysteria does is continue to harm people who've already been through enough misery. I wouldn't believe everything that everyone in Japan tells you, just like anywhere else there are plenty of ignorant people here too.



Thanks for your insight Kevangogh. Yes, I've heard the 9/11 conspiracy theories, although I don't think that's such a relevant analogy for this issue. I haven't been watching too much TV in recent weeks, only radio now. Even so, my experience of media in Japan is so minimal, especially compared to someone living here in Fukushima. Did you watch the video I posted of the farmers of Fukushima vs. TEPCO? I'm not quite sure how near to the reactor they are living, but they sure seem livid about the situation.
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby edkrueger » Sep 18th, '13, 18:51

Trigga wrote:I'm not quite sure how near to the reactor they are living, but they sure seem livid about the situation.


It think Kevin's 911 analogy was exactly to that point.
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Trigga » Sep 19th, '13, 04:13

edkrueger wrote:
Trigga wrote:I'm not quite sure how near to the reactor they are living, but they sure seem livid about the situation.


It think Kevin's 911 analogy was exactly to that point.


If his point is that people who are ignorant to factual information get hysterical for no apparent reason, then I see that. I just felt that choosing an example of a conspiracy theory to connect to an issue with no such theory surrounding it wasn't a great choice. And Kevangogh, I don't believe everything that everyone in Japan tells me. I take it with a grain of salt. Just as I am doing with everything you have told my in your response. In my original post, I ask a lot of questions, because I am trying to gather as many opinions as possible. I never conclude that I won't be drinking my tea. Or that I won't be consuming things from regions north of me. I only hope to hear more people's take on these issues. Which I hope will allow me to make a more educated decision.
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby ClarG » Dec 2nd, '13, 09:20

Personally I do not trust the Japanese govt to tell the truth about radiation levels in their tea or food products.

The Japanese are dumping radioactive waste into the ocean FFS.
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Chip » Dec 2nd, '13, 20:41

ClarG wrote:Personally I do not trust the Japanese govt to tell the truth about radiation levels in their tea or food products.

The Japanese are dumping radioactive waste into the ocean FFS.

Some branches of the Japanese government made judgment errors early on in the crisis in not disclosing relevant information.

However, in the big picture they seemingly realized the error of their ways and have been very forward and have made the radiation limits permitted among the lowest anywhere.

Pair this with everyone watching now, any slips would likely be all over the already negative media (bad news sells more so than good news).

Many tea vendors are also submitting radiation lab test certifications.

Of course, each person must make their own choices on such things.
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Catfur » Dec 2nd, '13, 21:04

ClarG wrote:Personally I do not trust the Japanese govt to tell the truth about radiation levels in their tea or food products.

The Japanese are dumping radioactive waste into the ocean FFS.


The Japanese (and American) government have a long history of being un-trustworthy on radiation exposures, however, in modern times, radiation testing is too widely available for the government to fabricate test results on and actually get away with it.

50 bq/kg (the most likely number associated with the tea in question, standards for contamination are usually bq/m^2 or bq/kg, bq/m^2 doesn't make much sense for a bulk product) is a trivial number.

As I wrote before, in order to get the smallest dose known to have any measurable increase (we are talking like a .5% increase), from the absolute worst contaminated tea that I have seen reported anywhere (1200+ bq/kg), you would have had to mainline (grind up and inject) over a metric ton of the stuff in a very short period of time, and you'd be long dead from caffeine poisoning before you could worry about radiation (in fact, you'd be long dead from caffeine poisoning before you could inject a fraction of the total amount you'd need to inject).
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Chip » Dec 3rd, '13, 21:45

You have a very interesting way of putting it, Catfur. :mrgreen:
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