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Radioactive particles from Japan detected in California

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Radioactive particles released in the nuclear reactor meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami were detected in giant kelp along the California coast, according to a recently published study.

Radioactive iodine was found in samples collected from beds of kelp in locations along the coast from Laguna Beach to as far north as Santa Cruz about a month after the explosion, according to the study by two marine biologists at Cal State Long Beach.

The levels, while most likely not harmful to humans, were significantly higher than measurements prior to the explosion and comparable to those found in British Columbia, Canada, and northern Washington state following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, according to the study published in March in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Giant kelp, or Macrocystis pyrifera, is a particularly good measure of radioactive material in the environment because it accumulates iodine, researchers said. They wrote that radioactive particles released into the atmosphere, in particular radioactive isotope iodine 131, made its way across the Pacific, then was likely deposited into the ocean during a period of significant rain shortly after the meltdown in Japan.

The highest levels were found in Corona del Mar. Researchers wrote that the levels were probably highest there because the kelp is also exposed to urban runoff, which may have increased the amount of rainfall it received.

The study’s authors said that while the effect of radioactive material in kelp is not well known, it would have been consumed by organisms that feed on the kelp such as sea urchins or crustaceans. Certain species of fish, including opaleye, halfmoon or senorita may be particularly affected because their endocrine systems contain iodine, according to researchers.

“Radioactivity is taken up by the kelp and anything that feeds on the kelp will be exposed to this also,”  Steven Manley, the study’s lead author, said in a statement released by Cal State Long Beach. “It enters the coastal food web and gets dispersed over a variety of organisms …  It’s not a good thing, but whether it actually has a measureable detrimental effect is beyond my expertise.”

The researchers also analyzed kelp from Sitka, Alaska, for comparison, but did not find radioactivity. The kelp there may not have been exposed to the same degree because of atmospheric patterns.

L.A. Times

4 Comments on "Radioactive particles from Japan detected in California"

  1. SilentRunning on Wed, 11th Apr 2012 1:59 am 

    Yep, and 8 days later 1/2 the radioactivity from the Iodine was gone. 80 days later over 99.9% of the radioactive iodine had decayed away.

    Fortunately, the worst stuff does decay fairly quickly.

    The worst effects remain in Japan, where thousands of square miles are a radioactive mess and will be for generations. That’s from the longer lived isotopes.

  2. BillT on Wed, 11th Apr 2012 3:43 am 

    Silent…sorry, but it does NOT decay rapidly…not the stuff you take in through eating the veges and fruits from California, nor the fish from the Pacific…like salmon, nor the milk and juices you drink. Shall I continue? Most of the land in the Western states now is much more radioactive than before this event. And it is getting worse.

    After all, you do not expect the largest newspaper in California to print the truth, that most things coming out of California these days has a touch of radioactivity, do you? That the government quit publishing the levels when they exceeded the ‘safe’ limits? When Geiger counters are selling like water in the desert? When the radioactive contamination levels considered ‘safe’ is being raised to keep it above the current levels by the government? That they don’t want the American sheeple to wake up and know that nuclear energy is killing them.

    If you expect truth from any Us ‘news’ outlet, you are very naive…

  3. DC on Wed, 11th Apr 2012 5:17 am 

    Ah nuclear energy, the gift that just keeps on giveing….and giveing +- a few 100,000 years or so. Well worth 5 or 6 decades of the most expensive electricity, ever.

  4. Kenz300 on Wed, 11th Apr 2012 3:15 pm 

    Nuclear energy is too dangerous and too costly.

    The disaster at Fukishima is not over. The people of Japan will be paying for the clean up for decades.

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