The Fukushima Prefecture Dental Association will spearhead efforts to determine whether children’s teeth contain the radioactive isotope strontium-90 amid worries they were exposed to fallout from the triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in March 2011.
The research, part of an Environment Ministry project to examine the health impact of the Fukushima disaster, would be the first large-scale examination to be conducted of children’s teeth. Dental associations nationwide, including in Hokkaido and Kyushu, will cooperate with their Fukushima counterpart in the study.
Similar to calcium, strontium-90 tends to be absorbed by the bones and teeth once it enters the body. It is widely believed to cause bone cancer and leukemia, and cannot be detected by whole body radiation counters.
The teeth of children aged 5 to 15 will be checked if extracted during regular dental visits with their consent or that of their families, and the results will be shown to them.
The research will start by examining the teeth for cesium or other isotopes. Any teeth found with high radiation levels will be further checked for the presence of strontium-90.
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