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Salt-buying spree in China

Fears of spreading radiation from Japan are sowing panic in China: China tried to quell panic buying of iodized salt Thursday after grocery stores across the country were emptied of the seasoning by hordes of people hoping to ward off radiation poisoning from Japan. The clamor for salt reportedly started after rumors spread, possibly by ...

Fears of spreading radiation from Japan are sowing panic in China:

China tried to quell panic buying of iodized salt Thursday after grocery stores across the country were emptied of the seasoning by hordes of people hoping to ward off radiation poisoning from Japan.

The clamor for salt reportedly started after rumors spread, possibly by cellphone text-messaging, that China would be hit by a radioactive cloud from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which had been badly damaged during last week’s earthquake and tsunami.

People were under the false impression that consuming enough iodized salt would protect against radiation and that China’s sea salt supplies would be contaminated as a result of the unfolding Japanese crisis.

I understand the fears of radiation — even from a disaster 1,300 miles away. But this fear of airborne danger is a little strange in China, a country where an estimated 760,000 people die prematurely every year because of air and water pollution. Even using the highest estimates, that more than seven Chernobyl disasters every year. Again, it’s natural to be scared but it’s unfortunate that more quotidian ecological catastrophes aren’t taken so seriously. 

 Twitter: @joshuakeating

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