News Stories

Baseball is Radioactive in Japan

What would you do if you were a baseball player who was afraid to slide to second base because you might pick up radiation from the dust? This would be as big a disaster in Japan as would be in the US, since baseball is one of that countries most popular sports.

There has been a vast radiation disaster in Japan, and efforts have been made to minimize its effects, but now it is becoming more likely that radioactive material from the Fukushima reactor is reaching Japan’s cities (and playing fields).

In the October 13th edition of the New York Times, Hiroko Tabuchi tells the story of how Takeo Hayashida took it upon himself to join a local citizens' group to test for radiation around his 11-year-old son's "Little League" baseball field in Tokyo. Government officials had told the group there was no need to test and said they had no plans to do so. Tabuchi quotes Kaoru Noguchi, the head of Tokyo’s health and safety section as saying it's not a problem because "Nobody stands in one spot all day and nobody eats dirt."

But BASEBALL players stand in one spot during a game, and they "eat dirt" when they SLIDE into base.

What did the citizen's group find? The level of radioactive cesium in a patch of dirt just yards from where the kids played was equal to those in some contaminated areas around Chernobyl (Fukushima was the world's second worst nuclear power plant disaster after Chernobyl exploded in 1986, 25 years earlier). As far as we know, no testing has been done of the dirt in the major league ball parks in Japan.

Tabuchi quotes radiation expert Kiyoshi Toda as saying, "Radioactive substances are entering people's bodies from the air, from the food. It's everywhere. But the government doesn't even try to inform the public how much radiation they're exposed to."

Meanwhile, Japanese citizens are grabbing their Geiger counters and doing the testing themselves. For instance, when residents of an apartment building in Yokohama--which is farther from Fukushima than Tokyo-- tested the roof of their apartment building, they found high quantities of radioactive strontium.

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