Half of the elementary and junior high school students in Minami-Soma who underwent radiation checks since late September were found with low levels of radioactive cesium-137, the hospital reported.
“We will offer periodic checks to students to keep records of their health conditions,” said a hospital worker in charge.
The hospital is uncertain whether the students inhaled airborne radiation or ingested it through radiation-contaminated foodstuffs after the March 11 Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant accident.
Radioactive cesium-137 was detected at below 10 becquerels per kilogram of a student’s weight in 199 students. The substance was also found at from 10 to less than 20 becquerels in 65 students; 20 to less than 30 becquerels in three students; and 30 to below 35 becquerels in one student, the hospital said.
In August, the thyroid glands of 45 percent of children aged 15 and under in Iwaki, Kawamata, Iitate, all in Fukushima Prefecture, were found to have exposure to radiation, according to the government’s headquarters handling the Fukushima crisis. Children are said to be particularly vulnerable to thyroid gland cancer due to radiation exposure.