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Concerns Over Pacific Seafood Expand After Fukushima

The recent IRSN report reminded of the widespread problem of radiation contamination to the Pacific ocean by Fukushima Daiichi. The mercury contamination of higher on the food chain fish like swordfish illuminates the risk to seafood from radiation contamination. The concern is the low level consumption of radiation contaminated fish over time since people do not eat once, they eat multiple times a day, every day.
A 2009 study showed that mercury contamination rose 30% in Pacific fish since 1990 and that 40% of US mercury ingestion comes from Pacific fish, a 75% rate for the rest of the world. Coal plants in China are cited as a major source of mercury in the Pacific. The EPA has been fighting to keep a set of standards warning people about fish consumption, the fishing industry and the FDA have been fighting them. Predator fish like tuna, swordfish and shark concentrate mercury and would likely concentrate radiation contamination in the same manner. Cesium 137 is considered one of the big worries of the contamination dumped into and rained down onto the Pacific. Cesium 137 concentrates in soft tissue (muscles), the part of the fish you eat.

The 2009 study explains how the north Pacific mercury contamination impacts US seafood. IRSN explains how contamination from Fukushima can work into those same waters.

Fukushima Diary is reporting new fish testing results found over limit fish 50km from Fukushima. The fish found over limit were all small to medium sized fish used for food. We have previously reported about the expanding contamination of seafood around Japan. Greenpeace findings. Health Ministry food testing.

The Canadian government has at least decided to make some effort to test seafood for radiation off the Pacific coast. This comment from the article is why there has been much concern about US and Canadian seafood safety.

“Salmon are a particular concern to Morton and others because their wide-ranging migration patterns can take them right across the Pacific Ocean to the coast of Japan.”

Fish higher on the food chain that migrate long distances are a considerable worry. If you check the shelves of most US grocery stores they are stocked with Alaskan salmon almost exclusively.

The FDA declared this a non-issue back in April and said they would not be testing. The FDA has admitted some Cesium has been found in seafood but they do not say where it was from, when it was tested an how much radiation was found in the seafood. The largest portion of their information talks about fish from Japan and of Iodine 131 largely ignoring longer lived Cesium 137 the more likely problem to work its way up the food chain.  The FDA is still telling the public this is a non-issue.

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