Japan orders quake shock absorber maker to replace parts after fake data

A building of the Imperial Palace is pictured in Tokyo, Japan, on October 10, 2018. (REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)
Updated 19 October 2018

Japan orders quake shock absorber maker to replace parts after fake data

TOKYO: Officials in Japan, one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries, on Thursday ordered a company that falsified data on the quality of its quake shock absorbers to replace its products in hundreds of buildings.
KYB Corp, a major producer of the devices used to reduce shaking in a quake, said on Tuesday that data related to their quality and that of products made by a subsidiary, had been falsified since 2003, and possibly even as far back as 2000.
Government officials said there was no risk that buildings would collapse as a result, even in a severe quake, but they were trying to determine how many structures were affected.
The company said at least 900 buildings around Japan had used products that could be involved in the data falsification.
The operator of the Tokyo Skytree, a 634-meter (2,080-ft) -high tower that is one of Japan’s biggest tourist attractions, said it had installed KYB products, while Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike said they had been used in at least seven buildings owned by the metropolitan government.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism urged KYB to take full responsibility and determine how the falsification happened, to take steps to replace the shock absorbers and make sure it never occurs again.
“This action, which has brought deep concern to building owners and users as well as weakening public trust about safety, is extremely regrettable,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee said it had been told KYB products were used at several venues for the summer Olympics, but did not identify them or give any other details.
“We are aware that the Tokyo metropolitan government has already requested the company to inspect the products, and we will wait for further updates,” said spokesman Masa Takaya.
A Tokyo government official said it was possible KYB products had been used in the aquatics center and an arena to be used for volleyball, which are both under construction, but authorities were awaiting further information.
The most common of several types of shock absorbers used in buildings features a piston that moves inside a cylinder filled with silicone oil.
Shares of KYB ended trade down by 10.92 percent.


Plastic particles in drinking water present ‘low’ risk — World Health Organization

Updated 22 August 2019

Plastic particles in drinking water present ‘low’ risk — World Health Organization

  • WHO issues first report on microplastics in drinking water
  • Reassures consumers that risk is low, but says more study needed
GENEVA: Microplastics contained in drinking water pose a “low” risk to human health at current levels, but more research is needed to reassure consumers, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.
Studies over the past year on plastic particles detected in tap and bottled water have sparked public concerns but the limited data appears reassuring, the UN agency said its first report on potential health risks associated with ingestion.
Microplastics enter drinking water sources mainly through run-off and wastewater effluent, the WHO said. Evidence shows that microplastics found in some bottled water seem to be at least partly due to the bottling process and/or packaging such as plastic caps, it said.
“The headline message is to reassure drinking water consumers around the world, that based on this assessment, our assessment of the risk is that it is low,” Bruce Gordon of the WHO’s department of public health, environmental and social determinants of health, told a briefing.
The WHO did not recommended routine monitoring for microplastics in drinking water. But research should focus on issues including what happens to chemical additives in the particles once they enter the gastrointestinal tract, it said.
The majority of plastic particles in water are larger than 150 micrometers in diameter and are excreted from the body, while “smaller particles are more likely to cross the gut wall and reach other tissues,” it said.
Health concerns have centered around smaller particles, said Jennifer De France, a WHO technical expert and one of the report’s authors.
“For these smallest size particles, where there is really limited evidence, we need know more about what is being absorbed, the distribution and their impacts,” she said.
More research is needed into risks from microplastics exposure throughout the environment — “in our drinking water, air and food,” she added.
Alice Horton, a microplastics researcher at Britain’s National Oceanography Center, said in a statement on the WHO’s findings: “There are no data available to show that microplastics pose a hazard to human health, however this does not necessarily mean that they are harmless.”
“It is important to put concerns about exposure to microplastics from drinking water into context: we are widely exposed to microplastics in our daily lives via a wide number of sources, of which drinking water is just one.”
Plastic pollution is so widespread in the environment that you may be ingesting five grams a week, the equivalent of eating a credit card, a study commissioned by the environmental charity WWF International said in June. That study said the largest source of plastic ingestion was drinking water, but another major source was shellfish.
The biggest overall health threat in water is from microbial pathogens — including from human and livestock waste entering water sources — that cause deadly diarrheal disease, especially in poor countries lacking water treatment systems, the WHO said.
Some 2 billion people drink water contaminated with faeces, causing nearly 1 million deaths annually, Gordon said, adding: “That has got to be the focus of regulators around the world.”