Senate probes Japan radiation risks

The Senate Committee on Health and Demography chaired by Senator Pia Cayetano on Wednesday held an inquiry on the possible radiation threats to Philippines from the reported partial nuclear meltdown in the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan.

During the meeting, scientists, nuclear experts and officials from several concerned government agencies explained through Powerpoint presentations details of the nuclear leak and the radiation levels and its effects. The respective agency representatives in attendance also answered questions from Senator Cayetano.

How to counteract radiation exposure?

Dr. Romeo Quijano, professor of Toxicology at the University of the Philippines - Manila said iodine-rich foods and vegetables that are rich in anti-oxidants can counteract radiation exposure. He said there are also anti-radiation herbs.

Quijano urges the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) to intensify monitoring of radiation levels not just in Metro Manila but other parts of the country as well.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) disclosed that it has issued a memorandum (Fisheries General Memorandum Order No. 001 Series of 2011) dated March 29, 2011 requiring that clearance of importers of fish and fishery products from Japan must be accompanied by laboratory examinations from the competent authority of that country which shows that these conforms with the guidance levels for radiation.

The PNRI revealed that their monitoring station in Tanay first detected radioactive air particles from the Fukushima nuclear plant last March 23. The highest radiation level, the PNRI said, was detected on March 24. The agency said these were still in safe levels.

The National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) reports that it had been closely coordinating with 44 council members, among them the PNRI, regarding the possible nuclear threat. NDRRMC presented a copy of the PNRI's National Radiological Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan or RADPLAN.

The Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA), on the other hand, revealed that they are implementing measures to ensure food products from Japan are safe to eat.

The FDA said there is no ban on food and drinks coming from Japan. It said the Japanese government itself voluntarily restricted sale of goods from Fukushima.

The FDA added that cosmetics from Japan are likewise safe.