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

sotopes that are released into the water in Japan on the other side of the Pacific were to make it over to the eastern Pacific, let's say the coast of Alaska, the concentrations are likely to be so vanishingly low that any radioactivity accumulated by fish in U.S. waters will be virtually certain to be negligible," said Nicholas Fisher, professor of marine and atmospheric sciences at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. "The radiation dose will be extremely low compared to radiation that's naturally occurring in fish."

Added Jacqueline Williams, program director for radiation medicine at the Center for Biophysical Assessment and Risk Management Following Irradiation at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York: "Obviously, if it's going into the ocean, there's going to be a dilution factor. We're 5,000 miles away. There's a lot of ocean between Japan and the U.S."

Also, Williams explained, "the particular isotope everyone is fussing about [iodine 131] has a half life of about eight days, which means that every eight days, the level of radioactivity is halved."

"After 56 days, you're down to a little less than 1 percent," Fisher said. "After 10 half lives, you're down to about one-tenth of 1 percent so it's almost certain it's not going to be a problem."

The greater contamination risk is likely to come from iodine uptake by seaweed, Williams.

While seaweed is a much more significant component of Asian diets than North American ones, people here do occasionally consume Japanese seaweed, for example, in sushi.

"There's a chance that some seaweeds are going to have pretty high iodine concentrations and if they're consumed as part of sushi or some other use for human consumption it might be a problem," Fisher said.

How big of a problem? Not much, he added.

"There are two reasons to be a little bit optimistic," Fisher said. "As I understand it, most of the seaweed harvested in Japan for human c
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