N. Korea reveals radiation levels in air for first time

April 9, 2011 2:01 am 

SEOUL, April 8 — North Korea revealed the level of radiation in its air for the first time in a recent media dispatch, saying the amount was not enough to cause public harm.

Traces of radioactive materials, such as iodine and cesium, were reported found in the communist state's major cities earlier this week, but the official media did not disclose their amounts.

In a dispatch carried Thursday by the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the communist nation said it detected 0.03 millibecquerel (mBq) of iodine-131 and 0.04 mBq of cesium-137 per cubic meter of air "apparently from the Fukushima nuclear power plant of Japan."

"The amount of iodine-131 is one-240,000th of the permitted limit. Experts are of the view that it does not cause public health concern," the KCNA said in its dispatch monitored in Seoul.

The traces were detected by "radioactivity monitoring stations throughout the DPRK," which have "strengthened the monitoring of radioactive substances," it said. DPRK is an acronym for the North's official name, Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

In a separate report broadcast on the official Korean Central Broadcasting Station the same day, a North Korean medical scientist advised people to eat seaweed and drink beer.

"Consuming safe non-radioactive iodine in kelp, seaweed and dried laver will leave no room in the thyroid for radioactive iodine in the air," he said on the program. "Drinking lots of mineral water, carbonated drinks or beer will also remove radioactive iodine from the body."

The North's reported amounts of radiation are lower than levels in South Korea, where 1.15 mBq of iodine-131 and 0.062 mBq of cesium-137 per cubic meter were detected in Seoul Wednesday. (PNA/Yonhap) scs/rsm

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