Hong Kong has a higher level of background radiation than Tokyo, according to scientists who’ve been gathering data on radiation levels since 2011, when the catastrophic Tohoku earthquake and tsunami resulted in a Fukushima nuclear disaster.
The non-profit group Safecast has been to Hong Kong several times, driving around the city with Geiger counters to measure radiation levels in heavily populated areas. The group hopes their research will help alleviate fears that travelers to Japan are at a higher risk of exposure, according to SCMP.
[….] they found that Hong Kong’s level of background radiation is around 100 counts per minute, about three to four times higher than Tokyo’s, says Pieter Franken, a computer scientist and volunteer radiation monitor based in Tokyo.
“It’s likely the granite used in construction,” said Franken, who set up the monitoring group with others as they felt radiation data being provided by the Japanese government was inadequate.[…]Granite contains minerals with traces of uranium, thorium and radium, which give off gamma radiation.
The Hong Kong Observatory said that the level of background radiation in the city did not pose a risk to human health. There are three types of radiation — alpha, beta and gamma — and while the human body can fight off some radiation damage, certain amounts of exposure can lead to radiation sickness.
Hong Kong’s annual background dose, according to Safecast, is around 2.4mSv, which is the same as the global average and should not be harmful to humans.
Water samples recently collected from coasts off of Canada have shown traces of radionuclides linked to the radiation leaked from the ravaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, but the concentrations of radioactive cesium were too low to pose any radiological hazards, according to scientists. They believe that the leakage will arrive at U.S. shores by April.
Meanwhile, safety fears have been on the rise in Japan as new reports have indicated that unskilled workers are taking on the task of cleaning up the Fukushima site. Labor brokers have reportedly become so desperate to find workers that they’re targeting the poor to carry out the hazardous decommissioning at the plant.
Previously on Shanghaiist: People’s Daily gets punk’d, posts image of fake ‘nuclear-mutated’ giant squid