TEPCO tested fish within 20km (fish hauled 1-3 km offshore) of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant for cesium, strontium 90 and radioactive silver. This appears to be some of the first testing for isotopes other than cesium or iodine 131.
Seventeen samples were tested, five fish were found with strontium 90 levels. There appeared to be a weak connection between the cesium levels in the fish and the strontium 90 levels in the fish. The cesium levels ranged between 235-390 bq/kg and the strontium 90 levels for these same samples ranged between .33 and .65 bq/kg. The strontium ranges didn’t match the cesium levels in a linear way but appeared to readily exist within these cesium contamination ranges.
The US EPA limits for strontium 90 in drinking water is 8 pCi/L (0.296 becquerels / liter). One liter of water is roughly 1 kg. This puts the EPA drinking water limit at roughly 0.296 bq/kg. All of the strontium 90 levels found in seafood exceed US drinking water standards. We are continuing to look for some accurate levels for food for a better comparison. The cesium contamination in these fish are low enough they would qualify for sale in the US and some other countries but are over the 100 bq/kg limit the Japanese government has put on fish and similar foods.
Strontium 90 can cause cancers, anemia and is thought to play a role in reproductive defects. Birth defects were observed after strontium 90 exposure in animals. Strontium can cause bone growth issues in children. Children appear to be more susceptible to strontium than adults. Radioactive strontium is identified as causing cancer in humans at higher levels of exposure. “Leukemia and cancers of the bone, nose, lung, and skin have also been seen in laboratory animals.”
Strontium 90 is considered problematic as it acts like calcium and can remain in bones for extended periods of time, even longer times in children. This creates a situation were the strontium 90 int he body can build up over time if enough is regularly consumed.
The radioactive silver (AG 110m) occurred with or without strontium 90 or cesium detection and didn’t appear to follow a pattern related to other isotopes. The total number of fish tested was small, further testing of more fish and at more locations should be done to obtain a better understanding of the issue.
Radioactive silver was found in test beds of oysters located near the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant in a 1988 study. Radioactive silver was also found in August 2013 in crabs within 20km of Fukushima Daiichi at much higher levels than the fish samples. Intestinal absorption of ingested radioactive silver is about 10%.
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