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Japanese Radiation Called No Threat to North American Fish Fans
Date:4/12/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, April 12 (HealthDay News) -- In their furious effort to stabilize the nuclear reactors damaged by last month's earthquake and tsunami, Japanese workers have released thousands of gallons of water contaminated by radiation into the sea, stirring worries that seafood consumed on this side of the Pacific could be affected.

But experts say fish-eaters in North America are in no danger, either from fish caught in Japanese waters and shipped over here or from fish caught closer to home in waters that might have become contaminated by drifting radiation.

"People have been asking, 'Can I still eat my fish?' The answer is yes," said Dr. Kory Gill, an assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and a physician at Texas A&M Physicians in Bryan.

Seafood imported from Japan represents only 1 percent of the total U.S. import, Gill said. And, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, all foods imported from Japan -- including fruits, vegetables and milk and milk products -- comprise less than 4 percent of all food imported by the United States.

Plus, the FDA is taking extra efforts to test all food products, including seafood, coming from Japan in the wake of the shattering tsunami and earthquake.

And, so far, Gill said, "no significant levels [of radiation] are coming back."

On Tuesday, the Japanese government raised the crisis level at the Fukushima nuclear complex to a level similar to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine, citing high overall radiation leaks. Government officials contended, however, that the health risks caused by Chernobyl still far outweighed those posed by the Fukushima plant, the Associated Press reported.

U.S. experts said radiation dumped into Japanese waters isn't likely to make it over here in sufficient concentrations to cause any harm.

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