Sales of foods perceived as a defense against radiation exposure have increased sharply in South Korea on concerns over contamination from Japan’s crippled nuclear plant, industry sources said Wednesday.
South Korea said Tuesday that it has detected traces of radioactive iodine in the air above Seoul and other regions of the country, believed to have come from the Japanese nuclear power plant in Fukushima that was damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Sales of seaweed at E-Mart, the country’s largest discount store chain, surged 101 percent on-year between March 22 and 28. Also, sales of dried kelp at the retailer surged 93 percent on-year during the cited period.
“Customers are buying dried seaweed and kelp on belief that their iodine content can protect against radiation poisoning,” said an official at E-Mart.
Lotte Mart, the nation’s No.3 discount store, saw the sales of seaweeds and dried kelp surge 53 percent and 56 percent, respectively, during the cited period.
Radiation fears are also boosting sales of protective face masks and air cleaners, according to the sources.
E-Mart Co. said sales of protective face masks surged 36 percent on-year between March 22-28. Also, Gmarket Inc., South Korea’s No. 1 online auctioneer, said its sales of face masks surged 35 percent on-year during the cited period.
“Customers are purchasing them due to yellow dust as well,” the E-Mart official said. The dust, originating from northern China and Mongolia, usually sweeps South Korea in spring every year.
WiniaMando Inc., a local home appliance maker, said its sales of so-called “air washers” more than doubled in the first three months of the year from a year earlier.
The device that washes and humidifies the air also suppresses airborne pathogens such as bacteria and germs to reduce the amount of airborne pollen and allergy-causing dust. – PNA