What Radiation Levels in Oregon Coast Tuna Really Means
(Newport, Oregon) – A study conducted by OSU and NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center found there has indeed been an increase in radiation in Albacore tuna caught off the Oregon coast – an increase that can be traced to the Fukushima Daiichi power station in Japan that was destroyed in a 2011 earthquake.
Varying levels of radioactivity were found in the tuna, and when compared to levels found in a three-year period before the accident there were increases as much as three times.
This, however, still means almost nothing at all. The isotope levels were still so low that scientists say you would have to eat more than 700,000 pounds of fish at the highest radioactive level just to match the amount of radiation the average person is annually exposed to in everyday life through cosmic rays, the air, the ground, X-rays and other sources.
“You can’t say there is absolutely zero risk because any radiation is assumed to carry at least some small risk,” said Delvan Neville, a graduate research assistant in the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics at Oregon State University and lead author on the study. “But these trace levels are too small to be a realistic concern.”
Neville added that a year of eating tuna with these cesium traces is about the same dose of radiation you get exposed to from sleeping next to another human for 40 nights. The natural potassium -40 in your spouse's body gives off that same amount.
Researchers examined a total of 26 Pacific albacore caught off the coast between 2008 and 2012 to give them a comparison between pre-Fuskushima and post-Fukushima radiation levels. They discovered that levels of specific radioactive isotopes were sometimes triple, but this is a measurement that is only 0.1 percent of the radiocesium level set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for concern and intervention.
The study also found 3-year-old fish usually had no traces of Fukishima radiation at all, while fish a year older did. This helped them discover some new things about the migration patterns of the tuna, and how they may wander through the radioactive plume near Japan more than once in the life spans.
Results of the study are being published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
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