Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hot Tuna: Fukushima-borne radioactivity found in California tuna

It has been in the news of late that traces of radiation, specifically Cesium-134 and 137, have been found in tuna caught off the coast of San Diego, California.  The radiation has been attributed to the Fukushima nuclear reactor facility that was battered by last year's tsunami and then went into a leaking meltdown from the damage.

While the levels of radiation are considered safe, at least for the moment, it does speak to the widespread impact of such industrial accidents - nuclear, oil, etc. - and brings up the issue of what future, long-lasting effects we can look forward to.

In his Shark Diver blog, Patric Douglas had some quirky delight putting the situation in perspective by looking at what other things we are constantly being bombarded with.  Won't make you sleep better at night, but his point of view brings up the need to take the environment seriously by realizing there are many other equally dangerous things filling our lungs or getting into our blood on a daily basis.

Waiter! There's A Cesium-137 In My Sushi

It is the end of the world!

Forget your 2012 Mayan Prophesies this is actual "cats and dog living together" kind of doom as researchers have discovered Cesium-137 and Cesium-134 in Bluefin Tuna off the coast of San Diego.

Yes, that's radiation people, and not the good kind either.

Apparently the stuff has come from Japan and the Fukushima power plant disaster of last year. The media is having a field day and as we speak Tuna NGO's the planet over are rubbing their hands together to capitalize on Radioactive Bluefin story lines.

But wait, hold on a sec, take a deep breath and go get a cup of coffee because this is not as toxic as you might think.

Let's start by examining your coffee and that deep breath you just took.

Did you know that most American homes contain over 1000 toxic airborne chemicals that you inhale every single day? 
  • Toxic chemicals in household cleaners are three times more likely to cause cancer than air pollution. (EPA)

  • Most homes have airborne concentrations of hazardous chemicals that are three to 70 times higher indoors than outdoors. (EPA)

  • Women who work at home have a 54% higher death rate from cancer than women who work outside of the home. The higher death rate is believed to be due to daily exposure to chemicals found in ordinary household products. (Toronto Indoor Air Commission)

  • In the past 14 years, there has been a 75% increase in asthma; 29% for men; 71% for women. The higher rate for women is believed to be due to women’s longer exposure times to household chemicals. (Center for Disease Control)
And then there's your coffee. Most coffee for purchase contains at least four pretty nasty chemical compounds put there by the grower to ensure your coffee is free from the wild things that like coffee as well. 

Not to mention any home in America built after 1986 using PVC piping instead of copper. PVC is how water is transported into your coffee machine and PVC leaches some pretty interesting stuff into your cuppa Joe each day.

So back to those Tuna. In terms of radioactivity, it's more of a science experiment then actual doom, sorry for the scare. The trace amounts of Cesium-137 are far less than the 149 topside nukes launched on American soil during the 50's-60's when towns downwind were bathed in radiation levels that would make health and welfare folks today fall over dead.

At least the folks back then had copper piping.

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at

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