Fukushima Radiation to Reach West Coast Next Month: How it Affects Fish and Your Food

Mar 11, 2014 08:15 AM EDT | By Staff Writer

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There's been a lot of concern over the radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster after a tsunami struck Japan. But how exactly will this radiation affect you and the fish you eat--if at all? That's a good question.

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake shook the ocean off of the coast of Japan.  This earthquake caused a tsunami, creating waves that crashed ashore. More than 15,000 people died from this incident, and the waves also knocked out the power to cooling pumps at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. This, in turn, caused nuclear meltdowns at three reactors, which raised concerns about nuclear material eventually reached the U.S. on ocean currents.

Yet current models actually predict that the radiation that will reach the U.S. West Coast next month will be at extremely low levels, according to Statesman Journal.  Needless to say, this is a good sign for aquatic life that lives along the West Coast, which includes salmon, tuna and other fish species. Right after Fukushima hit, there was concern about radiation levels in fish. Yet in the U.S., this doesn't seem like a huge concern.

In fact, Delvan Neville, a researcher in Radiation Health Physics at Oregon State University, analyzed dozens of samples of albacore tuna caught in the Pacific since the Fukushima incident, according to PRI. The highest level of radioactive contamination he's found so far "is more than 1,000 times lower than the point where the FDA would even think about whether or not they need to let people eat that food."

Currently, scientists are testing water samples off of the coast of Oregon, according to Liberty Voice. Yet while traces of radiation have been found, it doesn't look like there's enough material to be overly concerned.  It's likely that the radiation will reach just north of Seattle first, and then move down the coast.

So will fish be safe to eat? Most likely it will be. Yet like all things, there's importance in moderation-and seafood is no exception.

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