Saturday, March 19, 2011

Radioactive Spinach and Milk In Japan

Initial testing of produce and milk from farms near Japan's damaged reactors reveal high levels of radioactivity:
"The milk that contained higher levels of radioactive material was tested at farms about 19 miles from the hobbled nuclear plants in Fukushima Prefecture. The spinach was found in Ibaraki Prefecture, at farms 60 to 90 miles south of the plants.

Food safety inspectors said the amount of iodine-131 found in the tested milk was five times higher than levels deemed safe. They said the iodine found in the spinach was more than seven times higher. The spinach also contained slightly higher amounts of cesium-137."
- Japan Finds Contaminated Food Up to 90 Miles From Nuclear Sites, New York Times, March 19
The produce from Fukushima and surrounding areas is still being sold. Japan imports a lot of food except for produce; almost 80% is homegrown. They'll be testing their beef soon. If milk is contaminated, I don't know how other parts of the cow wouldn't be.

Unfortunately, the potassium iodide tablets the Japanese government is advising its citizens to take will do nothing for the cesium-137 contamination:
"Potassium iodide helps safeguard against only one type of radiation product, and it only protects the thyroid. More dangerous is radioactive cesium, a chemical element that is absorbed throughout the body and can remain in organs and tissues much longer.

Radioactive cesium can also accumulate in some types of vegetation that domestic animals eat; if so, it can contaminate milk and meat."
- Dr. Weil: Protection Against Radiation, March 17, 2011
The fallout from this earthquake gets bigger every day.

Update, March 23: Since I wrote this, the government has halted shipment of spinach, parsley, milk, and several other vegetables from affected areas and told people in Fukushima not to eat them.


Anonymous said...

Our government is buying seafood from the poisoned Gulf and sending it to our troops to eat. Perhaps they can take that radioactive spinach and mild from Japan and send it to our troops as well. /sarcasm/

Bix said...

I heard that about Gulf seafood. Ugh. Interesting that they're both fallouts of energy production.

90 miles is over halfway to Tokyo and 40 million people. It's a mess.

Dr. Mel said...

Did you hear about the latest oil plume in the Gulf?--this past week, about 100 mi. long, and they don't know yet (or didn't when I heard the story) whether it was from the BP site or from some as-yet-unknown leak. :-(