Thus far, there are no health risks to people living in other countries from radioactive material released into the atmosphere from the Japanese nuclear power plants. Radiation levels measured to date in other countries are far below the level of background radiation that most people are exposed to in every day circumstances.
Radiation levels have been monitored by the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), which operates 63 surveillance stations around the world.
At this time, only those involved in the emergency response near the nuclear power plant remain in the area where there are higher levels of radioactivity. For their own safety, all personnel in these areas should undergo decontamination procedures when they leave the site. Travellers returning from Japan who have come from the 20 km evacuation zone surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and who have undergone proper screening and decontamination procedures, and travellers from all other areas, do not pose a radioactive health risk to others and do not require screening.
Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings (English version) [pdf, 816KB]
Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Guidelines
Triage, Monitoring and Treatment of people exposed to ionizing radiation
TMT Hand book Triage, Monitoring and Treatment of people exposed to ionizing radiation following a malevolent act (2009). WHO, SCK, NRPA, STUK, Enviros, Clor. Chapter 8: 328 - 331 Prevention and treatment of psychological consequences
Codex General Standard for Contaminants and Toxins in Food and Feed
(CODEX STAN 193-1995)
Additional information on emergency preparedness and response
Joint FAO/IAEA Programme
The guidance levels found in different sets of recommendations vary because some apply to routine situations and others to emergency situations. The table below summarizes the guidance on radioactive Iodine-131 in drinking water and provides an indication of the equivalent exposure from routine activities.
|Guideline name||Advised maximum levels for radioactive activity in water (Bq/L)||Approximate equivalent radiation exposure if consuming water at this activity level for a year|
|WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality (1)||10||A New York - London flight|
|Japanese provisional (emergency) standard for adults (2)||300||One year's exposure to natural background radiation, or 10-15 chest X-rays|
|Japanese provisional (emergency) standard for infants (3)||100|
|IAEA Operational Intervention Level for nuclear emergencies (4)||3000||Not applicable. The advised maximum level should be used only to trigger action in the early stages of the emergency|
(1) WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality should not be taken as the reference point for nuclear emergencies because the levels set are extremely conservative, and designed to apply to lifetime routine intake.
(2) Provisional regulation values relating to limits on food and drink ingestion, established by the Japanese Food Sanitation Act, as indicated by the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan. These standards are precautionary and have taken international guidance into consideration, including recommendations of the IAEA and the International Commission on Radiological Protection.
(3) As in (2) above, but applicable to drinking-water used to prepare baby food. This level is equivalent to the international guideline set by Codex Alimentarius for infant food.
(4) IAEA Safety Guide GSG-2 established Operational Intervention Levels (OILs) which would be the default international guidance levels for the early stage of an emergency.