False warnings of a health threat from "nuclear rain" are spreading throughout Asia, particularly the Philippines, despite government assurances that there's no imminent danger. The rumors have been circulating since Monday via text message, email, Facebook, and Twitter.
Japanese officials acknowledge that radiation is leaking from an earthquake-damaged nuclear reactor in Fukushima, 150 miles north of Tokyo, and have urged people who live within a 19-mile radius of the plant to stay indoors. However, the World Meteorological Organisation says that under present weather conditions most of the radioactive material is being dispersed over the Pacific Ocean by westerly winds, away from Japan and the rest of Asia.
Rumors tell a different story, warning all Asians to take "necessary precautions," including not going outside in the rain, keeping doors and windows shut, and swabbing Betadine antiseptic on the skin near the thyroid gland to prevent radiation poisoning.
Date: 15/03/2011 14:34
Subject: Fw: Rain... (Japan government confirms radiation leak... precautions needed in Asian Countries...)
There was a nuclear blast 4:30pm Sunday in Fukushima Japan. If it rains today or in the next few days, DO NOT GO UNDER THE RAIN. If you get caught out, use an umbrella or raincoat, even if it's only a drizzle. Radioactive particles, which may cause burns, alopecia or even cancer, may be in the rain. BBC flash news: Japan government confirms radiation leak at Fukushima nuclear plants. Asian countries should take necessary precautions. If it rains, remain indoors first 24hours, close doors n windows, swab neck skin with beta-dine where thyroid area is, radiation hits thyroid first. Take extra precautions, radiation may hit Philippines starting 4pm (Pinas time) today!
PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE
BBC Flash news : Japan Government confirms radiation leak at Fukushima nuclear plants. Asian countries should take necessary precautions. If rain comes, remain indoors first 24 hours. Close doors and windows. Swab neck skin with betadine where thyroid area is, radiation hits thyroid first. Take extra precautions. Radiation may hit Philippine at around 4 pm today. If it rains today or in the next few days in Hong Kong. Do not go under the rain. If you get caught out, use an umbrella or raincoat, even if it is only a drizzle. Radioactive particles, which may cause burns, alopecia or even cancer, may be in the rain.
The BBC has disavowed the false alerts circulating in its name, noting that although the radiation has reached harmful levels "there is no suggestion that it is affecting anything other than the immediate area."
Joint statements issued by the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute and Department of Science and Technology on Monday reaffirmed the government's position that there is no imminent danger from the reactor leak in Japan. Excerpts follow:
- Department of Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo advises the public not to believe in rumor mongers and gossips regarding the alleged nuclear meltdown at "Fukuyama", or some other place in Japan, and on radiation threatening to affect other places.
- The advice circulating that people should stay indoors and to wear raincoats if they go outdoors has no basis and did not come from DOST or the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council.
- DOST CLARIFIES THAT THERE IS NO IMMEDIATE DANGER TO THE PHILIPPINES.
- DOST advises the public not to believe these rumors currently spreading through text messages, emails, the Internet, and other means of communication.
A Philippine Department of Health spokesman added that swabbing the throat with Betadine is "useless to prevent radiation illness." Nevertheless, pharmacies say they're doing a brisk business in the product, which is normally used as an antiseptic.
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• BBC News: 'Radiation' Text Message Is Fake
• Fukushima 'Nuclear Rain' SMS a Hoax
• Experts: No Radiation Reaches Philippines
• DOST: No Acid Rain in Philippines
• Betadine Swab vs. Radiation 'Useless,' Says DOH
• Boticas See Spike in Betadine Sales