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View Diary: Update on Fukushima Radionuclides in the North Pacific and Off the West Coast of North America (31 comments)

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  •  A report from 2003... (5+ / 0-)

    Looked at bioaccumulation of cesium-137 off Norway, from krill and amphipods at the low end of the food chain to harbour dolphins at the top end.  They measured Bq per kilogram of animal compared to Bq per liter of seawater (which is about 1 kilogram in mass). A ratio of 1 meant that you were getting the same number of Becquerals out of the animals that you were getting out of a roughly equivalent mass of seawater.

    At the low end (krill and amphipods), the cesium was concentrated at levels 7 to 13 times that of seawater. At the upper end, it was about 160-170 times, so as a rule of thumb, you could assume that the upper end of the food chain would be 10 times more concentrated than the low end.

    At this point, before people start screaming in panic, the important question to ask is "concentrated compared to what?" As people keep pointing out, a hundred times a miniscule amount is still a very small amount.

    Five hundred (500) Bq/kg has generally been considered the limit allowable for food under regulations used all over the world (Japan has since dropped it to 100, mostly for PR reasons, to be honest). In the Norwegian study, even the highest end of the food chain was under 1 Bq/kilo.

    So if you assume the upper end of the food chain (sharks, whales, tuna) will concentrate cesium, to be liberal, at 200 times its level in seawater (based on the results of the aforementioned study), and using the high levels of 0.0009 Bq/L mentioned, that means the tuna will be at 0.18 Bq/kg more than what they'd have otherwise. Or 0.18% of the limit under the Japanese regulations and 0.036% of the limits generally used in other places.

    Not exactly "Ohmigod we're all gonna die and the Pacific Coast is going to turn into a post-apocalyptic radioactive wasteland!" levels we're talking about.

    •  Given the choice between cesium laced fish (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lujane

      And clean fish.

      I bet dollars to donuts the great majority would choose the clean fish.

    •  Minuscule amounts of exposure have been shown (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Duckmg, Lujane, Creosote

      to be a risk to health and life. Not a guarantee of damage, but certainly a risk. As of today there is no known safe level of exposure to radioactivity, and all the official 'safety limits' are statistical-based guesses of risk in light of wanting to make money on one thing or another. (Personally, I think it unlikely that money and power doesn't influence what assumptions are made in many 'scientific' studies. There's a long and rich history on that topic.)

      Moreover, a unique risk of damage occurs with each exposure. Eat the minuscule-risk fish, and have the famous banana for desert, and do it on an airplane, after you cleaned out your 'normal background level' basement, and left your neighborhood with the emitting reactor ... well, how many times do you pull the trigger and the chamber is empty?

      Again, C-137 is only one of the radioactive elements in play.

      I imagine the true test of Fukushima's impact will be if we start seeing massive instances of sea life species presenting symptoms of radiation poisoning.


      Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

      by Jim P on Sat Jan 04, 2014 at 06:21:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I love that meaningless expression (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        joseph rainmound

        "there is no known safe level of exposure to radioactivity"

        Well, you know what? Life bloody well evolved in radiation, radiation surrounds us everyday from 100% natural sources, so the idea that there's "no safe level level of exposure" is about as useful a statement as saying "There's no guarantee you won't be struck dead by a random event in the next 30 seconds."

        Do you spend your life in a constant panic because in the next 30 seconds a plane could crash into your house, a rabid wolf could attack you, you could get hit by a bullet fired a mile away by an errant shooter at a gun range, or any number of other highly improbable events which demonstrably have happened to people?

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