Low-level Japan radiation spreads to most of China

BEIJING, March 31, 2011 (AFP) - "Extremely low" levels of radiation from Japan's crippled nuclear power plant have spread to most Chinese provinces but remain far too low to be a health risk, China's government said.

AFP file - This overview shows some of the devastation to the city of Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture of Japan on March 21, 2011.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection said in a notice late Wednesday that radiation was detected across the country's heavily populated eastern, northern and southern regions.

The ministry said on Monday that radioactive iodine was detected in a handful of provinces, but subsequent statements have tracked a steady widening of the affected areas.

However, the latest ministry notice repeated earlier assertions that the amount of radioactivity was only about one-thousandth of what a person would receive during a 2,000-kilometre (1,200-mile) air flight.

Japan's atomic crisis has caused concern in China, sparking earlier panic-buying of salt nationwide as consumers mistakenly believed that the iodine it contained could protect against radiation poisoning.

The government has also banned imports of several food products from Japan and stepped up checks at airports, seaports and other travel hubs amid fears of radiation contamination.

The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was hammered by Japan's March 11 twin earthquake and tsunami disasters, and workers have struggled with the dangerous task of trying to bring radiation leaks under control.

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