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SDSU Professor Helps Test California Kelp For Radiation Exposure From Fukushima Disaster

Above: California kelp is home to many small fish. Kelp samples will be taken from more than 30 locations off the California coast, including Pt. Loma and North County.

Nearly three years after the Fukushima nuclear incident, testing for radiation will begin on samples taken from the kelp forest along the California coastline.

One of 50 scientists who will do the testing is San Diego State University biologist Matt Edwards. KPBS "Morning Edition's" Deb Welsh spoke with Edwards about the yearlong study.

Q. What do you believe will be achieved through "Project Kelp Watch 2014?"

A. One of the things we're trying to do here is get good spacial coverage by hitting as many sites up and down the west coast of North America as possible. We're also trying to get good temporal coverage to find out how things varied through the year.

Q. My understanding is that you doubt if radiation is detected, it will pose a public health threat. Why is that?

A. It's not that I doubt it will be detected. Our levels of detection are quite good with the instruments we have. However, by the time the waters reach our coast they've traveled great distances and it's been some time. And as water travels across the ocean it dilutes greatly.

Q. There's some confusion over "detectable" amounts of radiation and "harmful" amounts. If they're not harmful, or of concern, would there still come a point where they could affect the food chain?

A. At the levels we're talking about right now, I don't believe so.

Q. Fukushima radiation is just going to become, for lack of a better phrase, "a way of life" for us, much like radiation is part of our background from testing 50 or 60 years ago?

A. This is certainly going to be something that is going to be in the environment. You know radioactivity just doesn't go away.

Kelp samples will be taken from more than 30 locations off the California coast, including Pt. Loma and North County. The Fukushima nuclear plant was damaged in a 9.0 earthquake-generated tsunami in March 2011.

Comments

Avatar for user 'ecoguy'

ecoguy | February 10, 2014 at 7:02 p.m. ― 10 months, 1 week ago

California has already tested positive for exact Fukushima radiation! I would think the levels will changes depending on the tides and lay of the ocean floor and coastline! If you have been eating Pacific ocean fish, sea food and seaweed products and you are concerned about ingesting radiation into your body and you want to remove it from your body, I recommend doing a radiation detox with the natural mineral Zeolite which has been proven to remove both radiation and heavy metals from the human and animal body! To learn more just do a simple search for the keyword Zeolite!

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Avatar for user 'Ricky_Sticky'

Ricky_Sticky | February 11, 2014 at 8:20 p.m. ― 10 months, 1 week ago

And as water travels across the ocean it dilutes greatly.
Im looking at your article here. Im glad you are looking at kelp.
That first sentence what does this mean?? The water dilutes as it travels across the Ocean??
You cannot dilute an Isotope. If thats what you are getting at,Most people wont understand this. Its called dispersal.
Radiation disperses, but maybe you know different,
But currently you are already misleading people with your words.
How about doing something to make Japan entomb the reactors, firstly,
you have a unique position that you can reach peoples ears..
Your study means nothing , the next day after it published...Its a on going event. So this study is a waste of taxpayer money, and scientist research In my opinion.
But maybe Im wrong about this..you are the scientist ..I didnt even graduate high school ;)

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Avatar for user 'Ricky_Sticky'

Ricky_Sticky | February 11, 2014 at 8:45 p.m. ― 10 months, 1 week ago

A side note you are using the word dilution as a way of saying the Isotopes are less dangerous because of this.
Whether or not the radioactive atoms are in on big mass or are in isolated individual atoms...they all carry the same energy producing power in either state...it doesnt diminish as the atoms separate.
The only thing that reduces the danger levels is when half lifes are achieved nothing else.
All these Isotopes are supposed to be entombed for 1 million years as stated by charters. Most arent supposed to be on the planet.
But the water will dilute it right??
Well good luck with future funding for your research...I see you are saying all the right things.

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Avatar for user 'Eric_Johnson'

Eric_Johnson | February 18, 2014 at 12:37 p.m. ― 10 months ago

Concern is understandable but there is much disinformation fueling undue fears. Fukushima demands independent monitoring but there is thus far no real threat to Pacific fisheries or human health. This is a quote from Stephen Manley, co-founder of Kelp Watch 2014: [Iodine 131] “has an eight-day half life so it’s pretty much all gone. But this shows what happens half a world away does effect what happens here. I don’t think these levels are harmful, but it’s better if we don’t have it at all.” Read more at: http://bit.ly/1gYxdmi

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | February 18, 2014 at 2:53 p.m. ― 10 months ago

Are there any updates to this story? When will the results of the testing be made available?

Thank you author.

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