The useful side of radiation

The news that Pacific Bluefin tuna caught off the coast of California have been found to have radioactive contamination from the Fukushima nuclear accident has caused quite a stir in some quarters. But there isn’t anything to worry about as the BBC makes abundantly clear numerous times:

The fish would have picked up the pollution while swimming in Japanese waters, before then moving to the far side of the ocean.

Scientists stress that the fish are still perfectly safe to eat…

But consumers should have no health concerns about eating California-caught tuna from last year, the team says.

The levels of radioactivity are well within permitted limits, and below those from other radioisotopes that occur naturally in the environment, such as potassium-40.

As I mentioned on twitter, “we can detect impossibly small traces of radiation; doesn’t mean we should worry about them

More interesting (to me anyway) are the insights into migratory patterns of tuna (and presumably other animals) the radiation can provide:

Fukushima pollution is potentially a very useful tool to trace the origin and timing of animal movements. The ratio of caesium 134 to 137 could be used like a clock to work out when and how long a particular migration took.

“This information might be useful in conservation efforts or in managing fisheries,” said Prof Fisher.

This is definitely making the best of a bad situation.

Leave a Reply

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Baskerville 2 by Anders Noren.

Up ↑