The Japanese government has warned that Tokyo tap-water is contaminated with radioactive materials and that babies should not be allowed to drink it, prompting an immediate health scare as flighty Tokyo residents rush to buy up all the mineral water they can lay hands on.
The government admits radioactive iodine has been detected in Tokyo at a level of 210 becquerels per kg, significantly above normal levels.
It subsequently warned against babies or pregnant or nursing women from drinking this, immediately leading to panic buying of mineral water, with empty mineral water shelves and huge queues soon evident.
Fruit and vegetables from several prefectures have also been banned from sale after some exceeded government set (and exceedingly low) radiation limits.
Unfortunately, neither the government nor the mass media is highlighting the minuscule scales of the contamination or the highly precautionary nature of the health warnings, creating an immediate mass panic amongst a populace highly attuned to media scares and with virtually no ability to comprehend measurements of radiation.
In fact, it would be almost impossible to suffer ill-effects at the levels subject to warnings – the government estimates for a baby to reach the acceptable limit for radiation exposure (itself extremely low), it would have to drink 1 litre of tap water each day for a year.
Even larger scales of consumption apply to the amounts of contaminated foodstuffs which would need to be eaten by an actual adult in order to exceed exposure guidelines, let alone reach a level damaging to health.
Meanwhile, more level-headed physicians have pointed to research indicating more radiation may be involved in smoking a packet of cigarettes than in the levels currently subject to hysteria.