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No plutonium in workers' lungs

June 12, 2017

Plutonium not found in workers' lungs



An institute in Japan treating 5 workers exposed to radioactive substances says it has not detected plutonium in any of their lungs.

An earlier report in another facility said one of them showed a high level of contamination in the lungs.

The accident took place last week at a research facility of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency in Ibaraki Prefecture, north of Tokyo.

The agency said it measured as much as 22,000 becquerels of plutonium-239 in the lungs of one of the workers after powdered radioactive materials scattered in a room.

The workers were sent to the National Institute of Radiological Sciences.

Officials at the institute told reporters on Monday that they had conducted up to 4 examinations of the lungs of the 5 workers. No plutonium was detected.

They also said they detected another radioactive substance called Americium. But they did not disclose how much of the substance was found or from how many of the workers. They pointed out that Americium can be created after plutonium undergoes nuclear fission.

They noted that there has so far been no impact on the workers' health from the exposure.

Officials at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency also held a news conference. They said they may have overestimated internal exposure levels, as they detected plutonium on the workers' skin in the examinations.

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