Energy | Ecotrope

Radioactive plume: An excuse to go out for sushi ... or not

Ecotrope | March 18, 2011 10:07 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:39 p.m.

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Officials say West Coasters don't have to worry about dangerous levels of radiation drifting across the Pacific from Japan's failing nuclear plants, but some people are stocking up on iodine-rich kelp and seaweed and (ironically) even planning to go out for sushi tonight.

Officials say West Coasters don't have to worry about dangerous levels of radiation drifting across the Pacific from Japan's failing nuclear plants, but some people are stocking up on iodine-rich kelp and seaweed and (ironically) even planning to go out for sushi tonight.

As you know, the diluted radioactive plume from the Fukushima nuclear plant is expected to reach the West Coast this afternoon. Radiation will be so scant after a 5,000 mile trek across the Pacific that the plume will not pose a health risk here.

But despite repeated warnings from officials on the lack of radiation risk, stores around the world report people are stocking up on iodine-rich foods like salt, red wine, kelp and seaweed.

The idea is by loading your body up with non-radioactive inorganic iodine you block the absorption of dangerous iodine in radioactive fallout.

Seaweed snacks and blue-green algae liquid have been popular items in health food stores on the West Coast, Reuters reports, adding that a health food store has sold out of kelp tablets, a mom is going out for sushi and a homeopath in Washington State is recommending miso soup and brown rice:

Jenny Rask, 39, a Los Angeles stay-at-home mother, has been giving her three children seaweed in their lunches.

“Luckily they love it,” she told Reuters. “And we are eating sushi tonight. Sounds a little cuckoo. But eating veggies can help, I hope.”

Of course, as I noted earlier, some countries are mandating radiation tests on the fish coming out of Japan. A senior scientist for the National Resources Defense Council’s nuclear program said there’s nothing to worry about.

From World Fishing and Aquaculture:

Not all agree with this view though – South Korea has announced that it will be tightening radiation tests on Japanese food imports. The Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said that all 17 fisheries and meat products imported from Japan will be checked for radiation along with fish caught in waters that may have been contaminated by radioactive materials released from reactors at the Fukushima power plant.

“Inspections will be carried out on all products processed after 12 March when the No. 1 reactor at the nuclear power plant exploded,” the ministry said. “Radiation checks will be carried out once a week up till 30 April, and once a month in May and June.”

Malaysia’s Health Ministry will also be monitoring food products imported from Japan to ensure it is free of radiation contamination.

Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the government would monitor food items such as fish and fish-based products, fruits and fruit-based products, cereal, beverages, canned food and meat.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reports the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will be keeping an eye on Japanese imports even though the chances of radioactivity making seafood unsafe are extremely low:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it is working with the Japanese government and other agencies “to ensure that imported food remains safe.” The agency’ said it will be examining both raw ingredients and food products labeled as having originated in Japan or having passed through the country in transit.

The agency said it could measure radionuclide levels in food and can also utilize the Food Emergency Response Network, which includes food-testing laboratories across the country.

“The great quantity of water in the Pacific Ocean rapidly and effectively dilutes radioactive material, so fish and seafood are likely to be unaffected,” an FDA spokesman said Friday.

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