Health uncertainties torment Japanese in nuke zone

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“They are freed from the state of not knowing,” says Takeda, who has a blog with instructions on how parents can protect their children from radiation. “They now know what to do and can make decisions on their own.”

Lochard says he was sad to hear about a Fukushima woman whose children were too afraid to bring her grandchildren from Tokyo for visits. All the parents need to do, he said, is bring food from home and keep the children indoors.

Still, Lochard says, “There is no safe level. It is a small risk but not zero.”

After the 1986 Chernobyl accident, more than 6,000 thyroid cancers clearly linked to radioactive iodine were found in children and adolescents. A study by Weiss’ U.N. committee found exposure to iodine was lower in Fukushima than at Chernobyl. Still, parents are worried because the Chernobyl cancers didn’t emerge until a couple of years later.

“Nobody can say this is over. I’d be the last to say that,” Weiss says.

Mayor Shouji Nishida of Date, a city of 66,000 people in Fukushima prefecture, says his community is preparing for the future by relying less on the central government, and by adjusting expectations. He believes 5 millisieverts of radiation a year _ five times the typical amount of background radiation in Japan _ is a realistic goal.

“We are defining policies to live and coexist with radiation,” he says.

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Online:

Kunihiko Takeda’s blog (in Japanese): http://takedanet.com/

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Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at http://twitter.com/yurikageyama

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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