News / Asia

Radiation Scare Prompts South Korea Salt Shortage

Table salt
Table salt

Stores across South Korea are seeing salt disappear from shelves.

Buyers say they want to stock up ahead of possible contamination from radiation in Japan. Others are under the impression that ingesting it offers protection from radioactive iodine.

South Koreans have gone on a salt buying binge. That has prompted the price of salt to nearly double since this time a year ago.

Some are calling it an irrational reaction to the nuclear power plant accident in Japan.

Seoul housewife Lee Jeong-hwa says she heard that sea water could start being affected by radiation from Japan by Wednesday, if not earlier.

Lee says that is why she went out today to buy some salt produced before the nuclear accident. She explains she is trying to get pregnant and does not want to eat contaminated salt.

The branch manager of a Lotte Market in downtown Seoul, Kang Dae-hee, says his store used to sell one or two packs of salt per day.

Kang says recently that has increased to seven or eight packs and, even, sometimes 10 daily. He explains that foreign tourists are coming by frequently and also buying unusual quantities of seaweed products, such as kelp, which also is a source of iodine.

Panic salt buying was reported last month in China. That prompted the government there to launch a crackdown on hoarding and price gouging.

Scientists and authorities express skepticism about such reactions from consumers. They note that radiation, except for the immediate areas surrounding the Fukushima, Japan nuclear facility, is not likely to register at any level of concern to human health. They also say ingesting salt will not protect against radioactive iodine fallout.

Dr. Ahn Young-sil, a professor of nuclear medicine at the Ajou Medical Center in Suwon city, says seaweed and salt products do not contain enough iodine to prevent the thyroid gland from absorbing the amount of radiation that would be spewed from a significant nuclear disaster. And she warns that consuming these products in large quantities could cause other health problems.

The Salt Institute, in the United States, says a person would have to eat more than one-and-a-half kilograms of iodized table salt daily to stop the thyroid from being able to absorb harmful particles.

South Korea’s Institute of Nuclear Safety reports that very small amounts of radioactive iodine and cesium have been detected in the country. It says analysis of air samples taken at 12 locations across the nation Sunday and Monday revealed traces of radioactive iodine in all areas.

The Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant, on Japan’s northeastern coast, was severely damaged by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami on March 11. Overheated nuclear fuel rods and steam from the crippled plant have vented radiation into the atmosphere. Meanwhile, radioactive water from the facility has been spilling into the Pacific Ocean. That includes water containing radioactive iodine measured at levels millions of times the legal limit.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More