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Radiation levels up in China after North Korea nuclear test

By Elizabeth Shim
Radiation levels up in China after North Korea nuclear test
Rising levels of radiation in an area of China near North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear site are "worthy of attention," analysts in China say. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 7 (UPI) -- Radiation levels are rising in areas of China close to the North Korean border.

But at least one Chinese analyst says it is too early to tell whether the changes are a result of North Korea's sixth nuclear test Sunday, the South China Morning Post reported.

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Radiation had risen to 108.5 nanograys an hour by Tuesday, up from 104.9 nanograys per hour on Sunday, not long after the test was conducted at Punggye-ri nuclear site.

Radiation levels in China's northeastern Changbai County then rose to 110.7, reaching a peak of 112.5 on Wednesday, according to the report.

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The unit of measurement gauges the amount of radiation absorbed into human tissue.

The change is "worthy of attention," said one scientist who advises Beijing on emergency responses to radioactive hazards.

But Guo Qiuju, a professor of radiation protection at Peking University, said the test and rising radiation is not necessarily connected and the public should not panic.

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"If something bad had happened I would be one of the first to be informed," Guo said, adding the levels of radiation reported are well below levels that pose health risks.

People living in Changbai County, however, are less reassured, after the test culminated in a "jolt" on Sunday, prompting people to "stay indoors with their mobile phones, expressing their fears on WeChat," said one resident.

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In another area of the border, Chinese nationals in Dandong told the BBC they are not concerned about the consequences of the test.

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"I don't believe there will be war because China and North Korea are always friends," said one woman at the Chinese border city.

Others blamed the United States for North Korea's nuclear weapons program, according to the report.

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