Fukushima Radiation: Is It Still Safe To Eat Fish? | Chris Kresser
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Fukushima Radiation: Is It Still Safe To Eat Fish?

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fukushima seafood, fukushima radiation fish
In light of the Fukushima disaster, the safety of fish has been called into question.

I received several questions about whether my recommendations for fish consumption (one pound of cold-water, fatty fish per week) had changed since the Fukushima disaster. You may have seen reports in the media about the discovery of radioactive isotopes (cesium-134 and cesium-137) in Pacific bluefin tuna that migrated from Japan to California waters. (1) This was covered by more than a thousand newspapers worldwide and several thousand internet, television and radio outlets.

Unfortunately, despite statements by the authors of the original research and other authorities to the contrary, these media reports led to widespread belief that fish on the Pacific coast of the U.S. now contain harmful levels of radioactive chemicals. Several people have told me that they’re no longer eating seafood themselves or serving it to their children because of this information.

While it’s natural and appropriate to be concerned about radiation, in this case the concern is unfounded. A recent peer-reviewed study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences evaluated the health risks of consuming Pacific bluefin tuna after the Fukushima event and found the following: (2)

  • A typical restaurant-sized portion of Pacific bluefin tuna (200 grams, or 7 ounces) contains about 5% of the radiation you would get from eating one uncontaminated banana and absorbing it’s naturally occurring radiation. All foods on the planet contain radiation. Like every other toxin, it’s the dose of radiation (rather than its simple presence) that determines whether it’s toxic to humans.
  • Levels of naturally occurring radioactive isotopes (polonium-210 and potassium-40) in bluefin tuna are greater by orders of magnitude than levels of radioactive isotopes from Fukushima contamination (cesium-134 and cesium-137). In fact, levels of polonium-210 were 600 times higher than cesium. This suggests that the additional radiation (in the form of cesium) from Fukushima is insignificant from a health perspective.
  • Even at very high intakes (3/4 of a pound of contaminated bluefin tuna a day) for an entire year, you’d still receive only 12% of the dose of radiation you’re exposed to during one cross-country flight from LA to New York.
  • Assuming the very high levels of fish consumption above, the excess relative risk of fatal cancer would be only 2 additional cases per 10 million similarly exposed people. And there’s reason to believe that number is no more than chance. Statistically significant elevations in cancer risk are only observed at doses of radiation that are 25,000 times higher than what you’d be exposed to by eating 3/4 of a pound of bluefin tuna per day.
  • Some bottom-feeding fish right off the coast of Japan contain much higher levels of radiation (i.e. >250 times more cesium) than those found in Pacific bluefin tuna. Even if you consumed 1/3 of a pound per day of this highly contaminated fish, you’d still be below the international dose limit for radiation exposure from food.

Finally, according to Dr. Robert Emery at at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston says you’d need to eat 2.5 to 4 tons of tuna in a year to get a dose of cesium-137 that exceeds health limits. (3) That’s 14 to 22 pounds of tuna a day.

To date, I haven’t seen any credible evidence suggesting that there’s even a minuscule risk from eating fish caught in the Pacific ocean. (Please respond in the comments section if you’re aware of any such evidence). If you read an article on the internet or elsewhere claiming that Fukushima radiation in seafood is causing problems, check to see if it includes references to studies published in peer-reviewed journals by independent researchers. If it doesn’t, I’d advise a healthy dose of skepticism.

My recommendations for seafood consumption haven’t changed. If there’s any risk you should be concerned about when it comes to fish, it’s the risk of not eating enough!

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  1. I wonder if Chris is getting a kickback from the fishing industry to write this – I would also worry about the massive amounts of pollution, oil spills and other toxins in the ocean in addition to radioactivity. Sorry but radiation is not safe to eat I don’t care what the levels are unless you enjoy colon cancer.

    • Paul B, thanks for posting this article. What will they do next? I read that the U.S. gov’t allows artificial sweeteners WITHOUT listing on the label. Feeding the sweet-tooth frenzy under cover in processed foods and drinks. Not sure to what extent this is going on.

      To clarify, the TITLE of the wheat article is misleading. Gluten sensitivity is real, regardless of the quality of the wheat. Remember we did not evolve on ANY wheat. However, ancient wheat plants did not even resemble modern wheat… but in turn, modern wheat has been here long before the GMOs, Roundup, etc. that are harming the land, water and food supply.

      • Hi Susan, I don’t believe ‘sensitivity’ is the same as ‘toxic’; many people are sensitive (even to the point of anaphylactic shock) to foods harmless and beneficial to most people.
        It’s sickening; here in the UK, we don’t allow GMO food (though I’m sure some slips in), but we do allow GMO’s to be fed to animals like cattle.
        But, non-GMO foods (like wheat) can be soaked in Glyphosate; varying amounts of this remain in the seeds or whatever.
        You are obviously pretty clued up, but regarding Aspartame, search ‘Donald Rumsfeld and the Strange History of Aspartame’: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robbie-gennet/donald-rumsfeld-and-the-s_b_805581.html
        There are many more sites on this, such as:
        http://www.stevia.net/aspartame.htm
        Regarding ‘safety’ of GMO’s, Monsanto only tested them on rats for 90 days (officially; obviously they would have tested them for longer, but due to the ill-effects kicking in considerably later, just left the 90-day safe label, and the revolving-door FDA rubber-stamped their ‘tests’). A European scientific team tested them on rats for much longer, and got horrific results, all sorts of probs including huge cancer growths and early death.
        With TTIP and the other ‘Partnerships’, the US is trying very hard to push these Frankencrops and other things to become mandatorily accepted by other countries, at the risk of massive fines for refusal.
        You’ve probably seen ‘The World According To Monsanto’, but anyone who hasn”t should search it and watch. God bless (we need it!!!).

      • Thanks for reply, Susan. I wrote a very elaborate response yesterday, then somehow it didn’t come up. It’s possible it was blocked, though this is an extremely tolerant site.
        I’ll just address your point about gluten sensitivity – sensitivity is different from toxic. Lots of people are sensitive to certain products, some to the point of anaphylactic shock, whilst other people can eat or come into contact with the same product with no adverse reactions whatsoever, instead they benefit from them, but glyphosate is toxic to everyone, and just about everything.
        Re sweeteners, I trust you know how Aspartame came to be passed as safe; if not, search it out, it’s very revealing. Also, I’m pretty sure you will have seen ‘The World According To Monsanto’, if not, be sure to check it out.

  2. This is not a comment on the Fukushima radiation/fish safety; I don’t know how to contact Chris regarding Glyphosate in wheat.
    Here is a very disturbing article which I would like to pass on to him (if anyone has his email, please pass this comment on to him).He may be aware of it already, but if not I am sure he will be very interested in it:
    ‘The Real Reason Wheat is Toxic (it’s not the gluten):
    http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/real-reason-for-toxic-wheat-its -not-gluten/

  3. Well how about, (I know very little about fish) Shnook Salmon? Whick I beleive to be a land locked salmon, Never went into ocean. Not as healthy as Pacific Salmon, I got that, however 2-3 times a year I will buy and eat a 1 pound piece of salmon. Usally at one sitting, sometimes it takes two. I have avoided salmon like radioactive poison, however what about land locked Salmon? This should be safe right?

  4. cesium137 is a radioisotope it bio accumulates you eat fish out of the Pacific you will have health problems and cancer fact!

  5. Fukushima Radiation Nearing West Coast:
    http://ecowatch.com/2014/10/23/fukushima-radiation-west-coast/?

    Watch the short video; apparently the Japanese only allow 100 beq. of radiation per kilogram in food; above that, it’s not fit for human consumption, but it CAN be exported to the US, which allows 1,200 beq. of radioactive Caesium in food!! Don’t you people understand, the US Government and Regulatory Departments care diddly squat for the people.
    And you want tests? Well, go pay for them! The Government shut down the air monitoring of radiation after Fukushima; what you don’t know, they figure, won’t harm THEM.

  6. Don’t worry! Be happy! Keep your blinkers on, folks. Nowt to see here, move on.
    On the other hand (as Chaim Bermant used to say), what you don’t want to know CAN hurt you.
    28 Proofs: West Coast absolutely fried with Fukushima Radiation, Part I: http://www.veteranstoday.com/2014/09/22/28-proofs-west-coast-absolutely-fried-with-fukushima-radiation-part-i/
    I know the website is suspect on some counts (like anti-Semitism) but this article does not touch on that subject.
    Wakey, wakey, folks!!

  7. Dear Mr. Kresser,

    I found your article interesting and your request to ask people to provide peer reviewed journals to cite their claims. I certainly appreciate you not neglecting to provide a link to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science’s ‘recent peer-reviewed study’.

    Seems the bulk of the article was published in April of 2013 however the bulk of the study was seemingly all calculated in August of 2011. That would be fine and well if like 40K and 210Po, the 134 and 137Cs was a constant number to evaluate. As fate would have it they are not and they Pacific has been getting an increasing daily dose from the melted down (probably through containment, cores) now for more than 3 years steady. The amount of contaminated water entering the Pacific has been estimated to be from the low 300,000 metric tonnes to 600,000 metric tonnes, daily.

    While I unfamiliar with your Physics, Biology or Health care background, I cannot fault you for repeating what others have ‘reassured’ you with; that is unless you didn’t bother to verify the facts or your editor decided the facts didn’t need verifying.

    In the abstract they extrapolated dosages to zooplankton of the waters in Japan to arrive at estimates of what the potential effects of a very confined group of isotopes (134Cs, 137Cs, and 110mAg) potentially might be up the food chain, to humans as a focal group.

    I found it a bit incompetent on the part of the researchers not verify radionuclide of silver they were referring to. 110 m1AG or 110m2Ag as the half lives of the isotopes 660(40) nanoseconds and 249.9 days, respectively might hold some relevancy if the study were indeed valid.

    What invalidates the study is it is an extrapolation of dosages of krill and oar feet or in Latin as they used euphausiids and copepods.

    While some arctic species of krill may live for as many as six years most, such as the species native to the Japanese coast Euphausia pacifica, only have about a two year life span. This is convenient for such an extrapolation as they don’t even last the half life of 134Cs, at 2.06 years, let alone the alone the 30.17 year half life of 137Cs. The four to twelve month average life span the collected copepod species is even more convenient.

    Convenient in the since that any subsequent studies done would be of off-spring of those original krill and oar feet studied not any that would be able to accumulate contamination beyond either species nature life span and providing no relevant data for there potential bioaccumulation of the study isotopes.

    The basic crux here is micro organisms such as plankton are restricted by their diminutive size to be incapable of taking in what to humans would be a fatal dose however just one energetic, radioisotope particulate taken in by these organisms is in all probability, fatal. This study never addressed that aspect of that potential nor has it considered repeat studies for population density, distribution, and mortality of either of them. While I can understand such a study was not the focus of this article. I would venture to say in such a degree of variables always present in every nuclear incident, one is negligent if they don’t continually evaluate the selected study species, especially when the ‘incident’ in question is on-going. Wouldn’t you agree?

    As I have already related, the comparison isotopes 40K and 210Po are a relative constant rate of back ground decay that has essentially been a part of our planetary geology since it accreted. 40K being something the biology has adapted to as life emerged and 210Po being extremely rare and found only in traces, due to its relatively short half life of 138.3 days. 210Po is highly toxic; by mass it is around 250,000 times more toxic than hydrogen cyanide. Alpha particles emitted by 210Po can damage organic tissue easily if polonium is ingested, inhaled, or absorbed; alpha emitters like 210Po are not dangerous provided they do not penetrate the epidermis and hence are not hazardous as long as the alpha particles remain outside of the body.

    I will let Argonne Labs educate you to 210Po and perhaps the researchers doing the study need a refresher as they obviously are confused as to which isotope they are referring to in the quote from your article below:
    .
    https://web.archive.org/web/20070703021010/http://www.ead.anl.gov/pub/doc/polonium.pdf

    “Levels of naturally occurring radioactive isotopes (polonium-210 and potassium-40) in blue fin tuna are greater by orders of magnitude than levels of radioactive isotopes from Fukushima contamination (cesium-134 and cesium-137). In fact, levels of polonium-210 were 600 times higher than cesium. This suggests that the additional radiation (in the form of cesium) from Fukushima is insignificant from a health perspective.”

    I happen to know for a fact that there has not been any Alpha emitter assessments made on any of the blue fin tuna, not caught in the beginning of this disaster or at anytime during the duration of this three year plus dog and pony show. Nor do I know of any Alpha emitter assessments made previous to Fukushima save for the “Lucky Dragon Incident” that occurred during ‘Castle Bravo’ test blast off the Marshall Islands on March 1st, 1954.

    http://www1.american.edu/TED/LUCKY.HTM

    In fact the DOE has gone out of its way to restrict studies of Alpha emitting isotopes in all agencies that might have some relevancy such as the FDA, EPA, NRC, and etcetera. While 210Po was not the killer in the Lucky Dragoon accident another Alpha emitter was and it was highly classified at the time, still is; 239Pu.

    Understanding that 239Pu has a 24,000 year half life and then some, knowing that it contaminated the crew of that vessel and their entire catch and the surrounding waters, knowing that they continued to do test there and in other locations about the Pacific Ocean; one can rest assured that any Alpha emitter assessment on any Pacific Seafood that showed positive for short lived 210Po, it also going to be positive for 239Pu. I found it in every Pacific Ocean water sample I did, previous to Fukushima. So why do these experts neglect to account for that contamination in the Blue fin as well. Logic confirms that it is in every piece of Pacific seafood to some degree or another. Mr. Kresser you are probably not aware the levels of 239Pu have increased massively since Fukushima, are you?

    “One gram of 210Po could in theory poison 20 million people of whom 10 million would die. The actual toxicity of 210Po is lower than these estimates, because radiation exposure that is spread out over several weeks (the biological half-life of polonium in humans is 30 to 50 days) is somewhat less damaging than an instantaneous dose. It has been estimated that a median lethal dose of 210Po is 15 megabecquerels (0.41 mCi), or 0.089 micrograms, still an extremely small amount.”

    Russian dissident and defector Alexander Litvinenko, was poisoned with 210Po or that silly ‘harmless Polonium’ that seems to have some how massively contaminated the globe, even though in reality it’s very rare in nature and as easy to find uranium has been mined out of existence (The source of Polonium is Uranium ores), then naturally occurring Polonium would or should be even rarer. The 138 day half life decay rate is a constantly diminishing return and with its source diminishing as well, it detection is going to be a steep descending bell curve back into the natural background radiation.

    Just reason it out for yourself sir, you see I was getting angry at folks writing their nuclear is safe and there is nothing to worry about articles but I began to see; it’s not your fault, you are being deeply deceived. As bad as you now understand 210Po is, 239Pu is even more toxic and with a 24,000 year half life has an exponentially higher potential to be ingested over and over again by a variety of organic forms, given its long half life span.

    Which brings us to; why do the media, agencies, ‘experts’ and you sir, only mention three isotopes from Fukushima, as at last indentifying count, over 900 had been detected and indentified. Granted some like certain radioiodines are relatively short lived but there are some that were released that will take longer to decay than 239Pu.

    Mr. Kresser, I hold no ill towards you but I feel I need to say this; if you have and love your children, you need to dig deeper into this incident. You also should stop eating fish; I mean really, sea stars are melting on the west coast as we speak. Do you really want to eat something from water that is dissolving calcium based sea life?

      • A superb and highly credible explanation Nuda. Bravo monsieur! I am a writer for various health magazines and have written and researched this topic responsibly and thoroughly, and you are spot on. The Fukushima nuclear melt down is a disaster of global proportions and the cover-up extensive. “Where does the truth lie?” is my question. We have to know the truth about radioactivity, for the lie can kill us.

  8. There is a huge difference between levels of radiation passing through and around your body during a flight and ingesting radiation, which stays in your body indefinitely. This comparison while factually true is a fraud. Boston Medical Center and the University of California San Francisco performed a study, which linked over 200 diseases directly to radiation and chemical exposure. Ingested radiation has no mechanism for leaving the body and remains there to continually effect bodily systems, whereas cosmic radiation does not have any continual effect once you leave the exposure area. Many top scientists are blowing the whistle on the nuclear waste pollution and it’s impact on our health. Dilution of radiation is another massive fraud. They know this radiation makes its way back to us and is the cause of much death and disease. This is not a new problem since Fukushima. We have been dumping nuclear waste irresponsibly for 75 years as government agencies have been looking the other way nuclear waste is “diluted” back into the ecosystem. Part of the problem is the USA does not have a safe storage facility anywhere for handling nuclear waste. We’ve been dumping and literally pouring this waste directly back into the Earth where is enters water and food cycles. The suggestion that by the time it returns to us it is “diluted” is therefore “safe” is insane and they know it. We have a ruling class that could not care less for the future of Earth.

    • I agree, nearly all or most of the diseases of today is related to dumping of this contaminating waste into our oceans or land, thus bio-amplifys toxins and eventualy moves up the food chain where human consumption becomes inevetable.
      Their is a Documentary you may be interested in, search “The Truth about Nuclear Waste Disposal” you can see it on Youtube or other daily motion videos. I could not post it on my site due to size of film.

    • Exactly, can i also add that Cesium or C137 alongside strontium-90, and plutonium-239 will be the most persistant of all environmental hazards brought on by man (himself) and there will be no relief from their effects in your life time or theirafter. One Radionuclide particle is enought to divide a cell into two, distrupt DNA Synthesis, mutate and bring on cancer, thus early Exit. This action will also be hereditated and passed onto the next generation creating more and more complicated diseases and illnesses, out of control sign leading to end of another civilization, the process has been Bio-accumilating and unfortunatley just like Adam and his forbidden fruitree their is no return from unjust error, Unlike Adam Been the first Human on earth to be unjust for his action, The sacrifice of sin sas presented in form of disease so Man could learn from his mistakes.

      • Adam and Eve were at the tree of knowledge. The snake represents knowledge. It was knowledge that has unleashed the mass extinction upon humanity. In a sense, knowledge has been the Devil….
        We have become death….
        Sound familiar???

  9. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were back in business in no time, Fukushima is across the Pacific so the math suggests little or no effect on the west coast of NA. Beside, eventually everyone dies no one escaped this faith yet, eat drink and be merry. Kryptonite is what makes me sick.

  10. There is absolutely no question that the increasing levels of radiation even in areas that are low are still causing DNA changes with mutations and deformities to insects, birds, animals, fish and soon enough to HUMAN BEINGS! The radiation and its damage is just working its way up the food chain that we are on top of! This gives us humans one and only one advantage over the creatures that have already been contaminated with this radiation! Our advantage is that for those that are smart enough and have the desire to detox the radiation from our bodies, we can do it! The best way to detox the radiation and heavy metals from our bodies is with the natural mineral called Zeolite that has been proven to safely remove both radiation and heavy metals from the human body and from animals as well. For more information on this important detox, do a search for the single word Zeolite.

  11. It is now Aug 2014 and its a proven fact that both radiation and mercury levels have tripled in the last only three years! WE ARE BEING POISONED and you better accept and figure this out for yourselves! If you want to be and stay healthy doing a radiation and heavy metal detox with the natural mineral called zeolite would be a VERY good idea! It would also be smart to store a quantity of Zeolite for the future because this is not going to stop in your lifetime! EVER! For a very good resource of zeolite information go to the zeolite website under its DOT COM .

  12. Its now Aug 2014 and its a proven fact that both radiation and mercury levels have tripled in the last only three years! WE ARE BEING POISONED and you better accept and figure this out for yourselves! If you want to be and stay healthy doing a radiation and heavy metal detox with the natural mineral called zeolite would be a VERY good idea! It would also be smart to store a quantity of Zeolite for the future because this is not going to stop in your lifetime! EVER! For a very good resource of zeolite information go to the zeolite website under its DOT COM .

  13. URGENT! OK Folks not only is the Pacific Ocean being radiated by TEPCO by dumping millions of gallons of radioactive waste into it every single day for the past three years, now a news report came out about a study that says that the mercury level has tripled in worlds oceans in just the past few years! Now the fish and seafood are proven to be even more polluted! Anyone that has been eating fish and seafood especially from the Pacific Ocean should really be thinking about removing the radiation, mercury and other toxic heavy metals from their body with the natural mineral called Zeolite that has been proven to do the best job of safely removing these toxic contaminates! For more information on this detox do a search for the single word Zeolite.

  14. The Fukushima reactor, power plant and surrounding areas will never be safe! The so-called ice wall is a joke that will also never work to keep the radioactive poison from dumping into the groundwater and crops in Japan and into the Pacific Ocean! The Ice wall is a stall tactic to buy a year or two for TEPCO for their hope to keep the pressure off of them to delay those responsible from going to prison for gross negligence and crimes against humanity, which is where they should be already! Due to the continued dumping of millions and millions of gallons of radioactive waste into the Pacific Ocean each and every day anyone eating Pacific Fish or seafood that has a very good chance of being contaminated with radiation should be thinking very hard about doing a radiation and heavy metal detox with the natural mineral called Zeolite that has been proven to safely remove both radiation and heavy metals from the human body! For more information on removing radiation do an online search for the single word Zeolite.

    • Zeolite doesn’t remove radiation from the blood stream, only from the digestive system while it’s passing through it. It also has to be properly sourced & consumed in an adequate quantity with food every time you eat for it to work effectively.

      The radiation level would only be dangerous if you were consuming fish from within a very close proximity to Fukushima itself as the radiation from the plant not only becomes more & more diluted to the point that it’s practically non existent the further away it gets but passes out of the fish themselves within 2-4 months.

      It’s been shown that the levels in fish from the rest of the world are so minute that they quite often don’t even register until the samples are concentrated & that in almost all cases the caesium damage is a minute fraction in comparison to other naturally occurring radiations in food and has a similar biological half life.

      I thought it was a serious problem myself until I did a few hours of research.

      • Your information is not correct Gabe! Proper micronized zeolite will remove both heavy metals and radiation from the body and through the blood. In fact proper micronized zeolite can pass the blood brain barrier as well. Zeolite is also the best and most safe way to remove both radiation and heavy metals from the body! You need to do better and more research Gabe! In fact I urge anyone interested in doing this detox to do their own research by searching for the simple single word Zeolite.

        • Cool! I never heard of “micronized” zeolite before. It’s proving challenging to find any with an average particle size of less than 0.3 microns though which is what’s required to enter the bloodstream.

          This doesn’t discredit anything else I said though.

      • Also Gabe! Fish will have different levels of radiation in them depending on ocean currents and where they have been migrating to and from! Any fish hanging out anywhere near the coast of Japan will be well radiated before making its way to the west coast of the USA and Canada to end up on your dinner plate or in your sushi roll! Also because of the food chain, larger fish eating smaller fish such as tuna will have higher amounts of radiation and heavy metals! Its really a crap shoot to who will get the golden ticket fish with the most radiation in them! Are you ready to roll the dice? Because TEPCO the Japanese power company continues to pump millions of gallons of radiation a day into the Pacific Ocean your chance of becoming dangerously radiated increases every day and the cases of new cancers will increase as well if the media is allowed to publish this information in time to better educate the Pacific Ocean fish and seafood consumers out there! YES people should and need to be made aware how the natural mineral called Zeolite can safely remove both radiation and heavy metals from their bodies!

      • The Chinese government has been building a new coal-fired electric generation plant, every month, for the last six years. Burning coal releases polonium, uranium, led, arsenic, mercury, etc., etc., etc…..

  15. I’m not sure where you got your statistics from as there are fish being caught in Fukushima that contain 200,000 times more radiation than banana does.

    Banana contains 80-150 Bq/kg whereas spotbelly rockfish in Fukushima currently contains about 193,000 Bq/kg!

    This would mean eating 200g of Fukushima rockfish would be equivalent to eating 336 bananas in terms of intrinsic radiation quantity but taking biological half-life into account for the sake of actual radiation damage to the body the amount of bananas would actually be about 2-4 times as much!

  16. I’m not sure where you got your statistics from as there are fish being caught in Fukushima that contain 200,000 times more radiation than banana does.

    Banana contains 80-150 Bq/kg whereas spotbelly rockfish in Fukushima currently contains about 193,000 Bq/kg!