Sunday, April 8, 2012

California Fisheries Potentially Affected by Fukushima Radiation

A new report states that unusually high levels of radioactive iodine 131 have been detected in kelp off the coast of California.

From the San Francisco Chronicle (4/8/2012):

Scientists from CSU Long Beach tested giant kelp collected off Orange County, Santa Cruz and other locations after the March 2011 accident and detected radioactive iodine, which was released from the damaged nuclear reactor.
The largest concentration was about 250 times higher than levels found in kelp before the accident.
The study's authors suggest that the radioactive particles were brought across the Pacific from the Fukushima area by weather patterns. 

The San Francisco Chronicle article understates the threat that this discovery poses. 

From the Newport Beach Patch (4/7/2012):

Cesium 137 has a half life of 30 years, as opposed to iodine 131's half life of below 10 days, so it may be present in California kelp to this day, said Manley.
"We were limited in what our instrumentation allows us to do," he said. "The big question was, 'is another major isotope that came over in the cloud, cesium 137, present in the kelp, too?' "
Followup work showed varying amounts of low levels of radioactive cesium in seaweed from samples near UC Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz, the scientists said. No radioactivity was found in seaweed from Alaska.
So the article confirms that cesium has indeed been found off the coast of California. As the article indicates, cesium 137 has a half life of 30 years. This radioactive material is not only here, but will be here for the following three decades.

The article also notes that fish have a thyroid system system that utilizes iodine. The thyroid system regulates hormones. That means the unusually high levels of iodine may affect fish populations in ways we can't even predict currently.

More importantly, it means that these radioactive particles are now in the food chain. California fisheries produce much of the seafood consumed along the coast and transported to the inland parts of the U.S. One has to wonder whether these radioactive particles will eventually make their way into the human population and affect human thyroid systems as well.

As previously stated on this blog, 'developed world' governments have failed to fully account for the damage that the Fukushima accident caused and continue to understate the threat that this radiation continues to pose to human populations all over the globe.

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