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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
AppleAndroid