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Southern California seaweed tests over 500 percent higher for radioactive iodine-131 than anywhere else in US

Thursday, July 12, 2012 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: seaweed, California, radiation

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(NaturalNews) High levels of radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster reached Pacific shores just days after the catastrophe occurred, according to a recent study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Tests conducted on samples of Macrocystis pyrifera, also known as Giant kelp, revealed the presence of radioactive iodine-131 at levels 500 percent higher in Southern California than in any other area of the country tested.

Based on data collected from several different test sites, researchers from the California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) Department of Biological Sciences learned that the highest levels of radioactive contamination from Fukushima occurred in Central and Southern California. But the worst contamination of all, at least as far as iodine-131 is concerned, was found at Southern California's Corona Del Mar Beach.

According to the figures, samples of Giant kelp pulled from the Santa Cruz area revealed 2.0 becquerels per gram dry weight (Bq/gdwt) of radioactive iodine-131, which can also be written as 2,000 becquerels per kilogram (Bq/kg) of radiation. At Corona Del Mar, however, levels of radioactive iodine-131 were discovered at 2.5 Bq/gdwt, or 2,500 Bq/kg.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s established maximum contaminant level (MCL) for radioactive iodine-131 in milk is a mere 170 Bq/kg. This is the same maximum level established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for radioactive iodine-131 in food. (http://fukushimafaq.wikispaces.com/Radiation+Allowable+Levels)

This means that the levels of radioactive iodine-131 found in seaweed off the coast of Southern California in the days following the Fukushima disaster were nearly 15 times higher than these established maximums for food, an important fact that was not reported to the public at that time. Only now is this little portion of truth finally seeing the light of day.

"Although it is probably not harmful for humans because it was relatively low levels, it may have affected certain fish that graze on the (seaweed) tissue because fish have a thyroid system that utilizes iodine," says Steven L. Manley, author of the study.

Meanwhile, radioactive debris is also slowly making its way across the Pacific from Fukushima to North America's West Coast, which is presenting even more problems. A Japanese fishing vessel washed up from the disaster, for instance, was recently spotted off the West Coast of Canada (http://www.washingtonsblog.com), while all sorts of radioactive debris has reportedly washed ashore in Alaska and other places. (http://www.cbsnews.com)

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