(TOKYO) -- The restrictions that had been placed on drinking tap water in Tokyo were lifted Thursday after readings showed that radiation levels had dropped to an allowable threshold.
On Wednesday, Japanese officials advised that the tap water was not safe for babies after the supply tested two times above the limit for radioactive iodine. The Tokyo Water Bureau reported at a news conference that the number of Becquerel per unit detected is 210. The allowable level for infants is 100, while the allowable level for adults is 300.
The panic from the initial announcement was evident when stores were quickly emptied of their bottled water stock as people ignored pleas to only take what they needed.
There are grave concerns that a shortage of uncontaminated water will leave little clean water for those living in the areas most devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that killed an estimated 18,000 people.
To help out, the local government began distributing nearly a quarter of a million bottles of water to homes with infants. It's believed there are about 80,000 babies in Tokyo, which has a population of 13 million. The earlier radiation warning specifically noted that the radiation levels in tap water were especially harmful to infants but were not an immediate health risk for adults.
Contaminated water is not the only problem in Japan. Radioactive toxins have also seeped into raw milk, seawater and 11 kinds of vegetables that are produced in the immediate vicinity of the affected nuclear plant, prompting a ban on their distribution and sale.
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