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Effects of Strontium-90 on Human Health Updated: 2011-04-14 12:00:00 KST

Effects of Strontium-90 on Human Health
Strontium is an alkaline earth metal like calcium, but strontium-90, which is its radioactive form, is produced when uranium undergoes nuclear fission.
Therefore, when explosions occur at nuclear plants like the situation at Japan's Fukushima complex strontium is released with other materials such as radioactive iodine and cesium.
But as radiation fears continue, some people are criticizing the Japanese government for being too slow in releasing information about strontium-90 levels.

[Interview : Kim Jai-ki, Professor
Hanyang University] "We can easily determine radioactive cesium and iodine levels by measuring gamma rays, which tells us exactly from what element it has been released from. But strontium only releases beta particles, and to accurately measure this chemical separation is required which is a very difficult and time consuming procedure that takes about three to four weeks."

So, in situations like this, authorities usually look for radioactive cesium first, and if its levels are significantly high they then start testing for strontium-90.

[Interview : Kim Jai-ki, Professor
Hanyang University] "Strontium-90 is referred to as a "bone seeker," because when we intentionally inject large amounts into laboratory animals, it causes bone loss. But, strontium is very similar to calcium and the two may compete with one another for absorption. And because foods contain higher concentrations of calcium, the amount strontium absorbed into our body is very small. "

The Japanese government continues to closely monitor the situation by testing seawater and food for contamination and has restricted exports of several products from affected regions.
Also, Korean authorities are set to carry out radiation inspections until imported products from Japan are considered safe and minute levels of strontium-90 have been detected so far, so experts say there is no need to worry about the effects this may have on human health.
Oh Jee-hyun, Arirang News.

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