Fukushima radiation found in Calif. kelp

April 10, 2012 at 4:18 PM
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LOS ANGELES, April 10 (UPI) -- Radiation from Fukushima, Japan, following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami has been detected in giant kelp along the California coast, researchers say.

A recent report in the journal Environmental Science & Technology said marine biologists at Cal State Long Beach found radioactive iodine in samples collected from beds of kelp along the coast from Laguna Beach to as far north as Santa Cruz about a month after the explosion and meltdown of the Fukushima reactors.

While probably not a threat to humans, the levels were significantly higher than measurements taken before the disaster explosion and comparable to those found in British Columbia, Canada, and northern Washington State following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

Giant kelp is a good indicator of radioactive material in the environment because it takes up iodine, the scientists said.

"Radioactivity is taken up by the kelp and anything that feeds on the kelp will be exposed to this also," Steven Manley, the study's lead author, said in a statement.

Some species of fish may be particularly affected because their endocrine systems contain iodine, researchers said.

"It enters the coastal food web and gets dispersed over a variety of organisms. ... It's not a good thing, but whether it actually has a measurable detrimental effect is beyond my expertise."

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