23 Mar 2011

Tokyo water not safe for babies

10:12 pm on 23 March 2011

Japanese officials are warning people in Tokyo not to give their babies tap water after unsafe levels of radioactive iodine were discovered due to a stricken nuclear power plant.

The Fukushima Daiichi plant was badly damaged after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami that devastated the country's north-east coast on 11 March.

The Japanese government has also ordered two districts near the plant to halt shipments of green vegetables and milk after the discovery of radiation levels up to 164 times the legal limit.

Authorities say levels of radioactive iodine that are above the safe limit have been found in the capital's water supply.

They are warning people in Tokyo not to allow babies less than one year old to drink water from the tap and to avoid using tap water to make infant formula until further notice.

The BBC reports the level of radiation picked up in tests carried out on Tuesday was more than twice the level safe for infants to drink.

However, authorities stress that children would have to drink a lot of tap water before it harmed them and the risk to others is minimal.

Meanwhile, local media say Prime Minister Naoto Kan has told governors to stop the shipments of broccoli and green leaf vegetables from Fukushima and untreated milk and parsley from neighbouring Ibaraki.

Mr Kan has reportedly told people in those areas not to eat the vegetables.

The health ministry says radioactivity drastically exceeding legal limits set under Japan's food sanitation law has been found in 11 kinds of vegetable grown in Fukushima.

The United States has halted food and milk imports from areas near the crippled nuclear plant.

Across Asia, many Japanese restaurants and shops are reporting a decline in business and governments have stepped up radiation checks on the country's goods.

Tainted fava beans from Japan have already been found in Taiwan.