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California Kelp Contaminated by Fukushima Radiation

California Kelp Contaminated by Fukushima Radiation

Ocean fallout from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan last year made it all the way to the California coast line, according to information recently released from scientists at CSU. Kelp samples were collected off Orange County, Santa Cruz and other coastal areas after the 2011 accident and the samples all contained radioactive iodine. The largest concentration was about 250 times higher than levels normally found in giant kelp before the disaster in Japan.

Steven Manley, a biology professor who specializes in kelp, said that “kelp forests are some of the most productive ecosystems on Earth, and one thing about it is it has a large surface canopy which means it is continually exposed to the air and whatever contaminants are in it.”

In regards to the fish and other sea life that feeds on the kelp, he said that “if they were feeding on it, they definitely got dosed. We just don’t know if it was harmful. It’s probably not good for them. But no one knows. In the marine environment, it was significant, but probably not harmful at the levels we detected it, except it may have affected certain fish’s thyroid systems.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has not said whether or not they will consider monitoring kelp ongoing. They agency measured air and milk on the West Coast after Fukushima and concluded that “radiation levels remained well below any level of public health concern.”

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