The implications of 27,000 becquerels per square meter?
For the last six months, residents of Northern Japan have had to contend with a confusing list of ways to measure radiation in air water, soil and food. Now that the major releases to the air are over, one of the most important measurements is the data on soil contamination because this determines what will enter the food chain. So what does it mean for people in the Tokyo area to be told that the soil has 27,000 becquerels per square meter, some places more, some places less? A good point of comparison is a map of fallout on Western Europe after Chernobyl. As the scale in the photo goes from yellow, to pale orange, to orange, the numbers go from 1,000 to 40,000 becquerels per square meter. For the most part, "lightly" contaminated areas south of Fukushima are at the same level that large parts of France, Germany, Poland and other parts of Europe have had for 25 years. No one panicked and evacuated from these regions, and no one noticed large, obvious health effects that could be definitely traced to radiation exposure. But it is a matter of speculation as to whether this level of contamination contributed to cancer rates and so called "epidemics" of morbidity, such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, that have been noted during these recent decades.