Japanese Radiation Nears US Shores

But it won't cause any harm, crowdfunded study says
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2014 5:15 PM CST
Radiation From Japanese Nuke Disaster Near US Shores
In this video image taken from NTV Japan via APTN, smoke raises from Fukushima Daiichi power plant's Unit 1 in Okumamachi, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, Saturday, March 12, 2011.   (AP Photo/NTV Japan via APTN)

Radiation from Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster is finally nearing the West Coast, but at levels so low there's apparently nothing to worry about. A crowdfunded research group came to that conclusion after trolling for evidence of Fukushima's unique radiation "fingerprint" in the Pacific Ocean, Science reports via UT San Diego. That radiation, now about 100 miles offshore, is roughly "1,000 times less than a single dental x-ray," says marine chemist Ken Buesseler, who led the study. "It will not deter me from swimming in the Pacific." That runs counter to what some experts call "misinformation" in California about the risk of taking the family to the beach. "I see no reason to exaggerate what is happening," Buesseler adds.

His group found a maximum of two becquerels (a measurement of radiation) from Japan in each cubic meter of Pacific water. That's not much, compared to the estimated 7,000 trillion becquerels emitted during Japan's meltdown and the 45.5 million becquerels found per cubic meter of water near Japan, enough to give fish reproductive problems. And Buesseler says that the Fukushima radiation won't accumulate in top-level sea predators the way mercury does. For all this data, we can thank the conservation groups, universities, and government bodies who did the crowdfunding. "In the US, no federal agency has taken on this task or supported independent scientists like ourselves to do this," he writes on Reddit. (See why radiation still afflicts Navajoes in the Southwest.)

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