Chicago Real Estate Firm Comes Up Big For Japan; You Can Still Come Through Too

March 20, 2011

Have you been watching the news unfold in Japan? It’s heartbreaking.

So, how are Chicago residents reacting to it?

President Obama addressed the country on Thursday with reassurance that harmful levels of radiation from the Japanese nuclear crisis are not expected to reach the United States.

“So I want to be very clear,” said the President. “We do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the United States, whether it’s the West Coast, Hawaii, Alaska or U.S. territories.”

It would be nicer to hear that the radiation levels “will not reach” rather than “are not expected to reach,” but we all know there are no guarantees in life.

Meanwhile, Homeland Security officials are screening passengers and cargo for radiation at O’Hare Airport. While out-of-the-ordinary levels are being detected there, officials say the levels are low and not harmful.

Despite those assurances, many Americans are taking potassium iodide (KI) as a preventative measure against radiation exposure.

If you are one of them, stop.

The Illinois Department of Public Health is warning residents that the non-prescription drug can actually harm your health.

“Residents who take potassium iodide out of concern of possible radiation exposure from the events in Japan could be putting their health at risk due to side effects,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold.

“The state health department does not recommend taking potassium iodide at this time and strongly encourages residents to learn about the drug, when to take it and its impact. The department has posted materials on our Web site.”

Visit for more information.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is also warning consumers to beware of companies selling products that claim to guard against the effects of radiation but are not approved by the FDA.

“The FDA is alerting consumers to be wary of internet sites and other retail outlets promoting products making false claims to prevent or treat effects of radiation or products that are not FDA-approved. These fraudulent products come in all varieties and could include dietary supplements, food items, or products purporting to be drugs, devices or vaccines.”

Visit for more information.

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We recently wrote about ways for you to help the victims in Japan, but compared to other natural disasters, the donations are falling short.

The American Red Cross has raised a reported $64 million for the Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Fund, including about $2.8 million in text message donations.

In comparison, Americans donated about $275 million in the first week after the earthquake destroyed Haiti and more than $522 million following Hurricane Katrina.

One group doing their part is the global commercial real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle, which is donating 100 million yen to the Japanese Red Cross. That equates to approximately $1.25 million in U.S. currency.

“Following a series of natural disasters and now nuclear disasters, there are mounting risks facing our country and there remains a substantial and ongoing need for humanitarian assistance for the families affected,” said Yoichiro Hamaoka, Jones Lang LaSalle’s Managing Director for Japan.

Please check out our story at to find ways to donate or visit

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Want to express your thoughts on the disaster in Japan?

The Consulate General of Japan at Chicago has a condolence book that you can sign.

Obama signing the condolence book for Japan.

President Obama signs a condolence book at the Japanese Embassy, "My heart goes out to the people of Japan during this enormous tragedy. Please know that America will always stand by one of its greatest allies during this time of need."

Residents wishing to express their concerns and condolences for the victims in Japan are invited to sign their names in the book from Monday through Wednesday this week.

What: Condolence Book for Victims in Japan

Where: Consulate General of Japan at Chicago, Olympia Centre 10F, 737 North Michigan Ave., Chicago

When: Monday through Wednesday, March 21-23; 9:30 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4:30 p.m.

Visit: for more information

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