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Japan FAQs

Q1: What are the risks to people living in the United Kingdom from radiation emitted from the Japanese nuclear power plants?
A: There is no health risk to people living in the UK from the release of radioactive material from the Japanese nuclear power plant.

Q2: Could the levels of radiation detected in the United Kingdom be harmful to people's health?
A: The levels of radiation (iodine-131) reported so far in the United Kingdom are equivalent to around 1/10,000 of the dose received from natural radiation and pose no threat to public health.

Q3: Does the raising of the Fukushima incident to Level 7 have any health implications to people living in the UK?
A: No. Changing the incident level brings no additional risk to health for people living in the United Kingdom.

Q4: How much radiation from the Japanese nuclear power plant emissions will reach the UK?
A: Any radiation that could potentially reach the United Kingdom would be miniscule and no threat to people's health.

See Dose comparisons for ionising radiation

Q5: Should people living in the United Kingdom consider taking buying or taking iodine tablets?
A: No, people living in the UK are not at risk from radiation emitted from the Japanese nuclear power plants and therefore do not need to buy or take iodine tablets.

Q6: What are the risks to people who have recently returned from Japan?
A: UK citizens who have followed the Foreign and Commonwealth Office recommendations on travel should not have been exposed to potentially harmful levels of radiation.

Q7: Is there a risk that food imported from Japan will be contaminated with harmful levels of radiation?
A: Japanese food restrictions should mean that no food imported from Japan will pose a threat to human health.

Q8: Could I have been contaminated with potentially harmful levels of radiation from food I have eaten in Japan
A: The Japanese authorities have taken appropriate measures to ensure that food potentially contaminated with harmful levels of radiation has not entered the food chain. 

Q9: Could my clothes have become contaminated with harmful levels of radiation while in Japan?
A: UK citizens who have followed the Foreign and Commonwealth Office recommendations on travel should not have been exposed to potentially harmful levels of radiation and clothes will therefore not have been exposed to potentially harmful levels either.

Q10: Advice on drinking tap water in Tokyo
A: The HPA is advising people in Japan to follow the Japanese Government's advice on drinking tap water - and where appropriate seek local advice. On March 23 it was reported that children aged under one year should not drink the water in Tokyo – that restriction was lifted the following day when levels of radioactivity dropped, meaning the water is safe for anyone to drink. UK nationals in Japan should seek out local advice as restrictions on who should and should not consume tap water, may apply in different areas.

Q11: Should I be concerned about my baby's health as she was drinking tap water in Tokyo before the Japanese authorities issued the precautionary advice?
A: The precautionary advice given by the Japanese authorities was based on a threat to the health of babies aged under one drinking tap water in Tokyo for a prolonged period, for example several months. As the restriction was put into place one day and lifted the next when levels of radioactivity dropped, the HPA agrees with Japanese predictions that there is no risk to children aged under one year..

Q12: I am going to Tokyo – is it safe to drink the tap water?
A: The Japanese authorities are advising that tap water is safe to drink.

Q13: I have recently returned from Tokyo where I have been drinking the tap water and would like to know if it is safe to breastfeed my baby?
A:It is safe for mothers in Japan, and those who have recently returned from Japan, to continue breastfeeding their babies.

Q14: Is there any danger to drinking water in the UK?
A. Water companies have a regulatory requirement to carry out routine monitoring of tap water supplies to ensure supplies remains safe for consumers. Radioactivity in drinking water is monitored as part of that program and an early warning system is in place across the UK for increases in atmospheric levels of radioactive particles. Contamination of tap water supplies in the UK from the Japanese reactors at the Fukushima site is considered unlikely, because the distance from those reactors means that material reported as arriving in the UK is only present in tiny quantities. Therefore UK supplies remain safe to drink. The Drinking Water Inspectorate will continue to monitor the situation.

Q15: If contamination is found in the UK does this mean milk is still safe?
The Food Standards Agency says that minuscule levels of radioactivity being detected in the UK are far too low to cause any concerns over the safety of any food in the UK. These minute levels of iodine-131 could land on grass and be consumed by cows – but at these levels there is no food safety risk.

Q16: Are home grown vegetables safe?
The Food Standards Agency says that minuscule levels of radioactivity being detected in the UK are far too low to cause any concerns over the safety of any food in the UK. Minute amounts of iodine-131 from Japan could settle on the surface of vegetables but this will not cause any food safety concerns and will soon decay or be washed away anyway.