– High cesium levels detected in rats near Fukushima (NHK, May 14, 2012):
High levels of radioactive cesium have been detected in rats caught in forests near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Researchers from the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute analyzed the rat samples collected from remote areas of Fukushima and Ibaraki prefectures in October and December last year.
The institute says about 3,100 becquerels of cesium per kilogram was detected in rats captured near Kawauchi village, which is 30 kilometers from the plant. About 790 becquerels per kilo was found in rats from around Kita-Ibaraki city, 70 kilometers away.
Aerial radiation levels were 3.11 microsieverts per hour in Kawauchi and 0.2 microsieverts in Kita-Ibaraki.
The institute says the cesium levels in rats apparently rise in proportion to the concentration of atmospheric radiation where they live.
A senior researcher at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences, Yoshihisa Kubota, says rats are as sensitive to radiation as humans.
Kubota stressed the importance of maintaining ongoing studies into the effects of radioactive substances on wild organisms.