Japan released 11,000 tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean yesterday. Water leaked from cracked nuclear reactors in Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility. The radiation levels have been measured and are several million times the legal limit, just four weeks after the earthquake and tsunami, and days after workers discovered a crack where highly contaminated water was spilling directly into the Pacific Ocean.
Experts say radiation dissipates quickly in the vast ocean, but they are unclear what will be the long-term effects of large amounts of contamination. The new levels prompted the Japanese government on Tuesday to create an acceptable radiation standard for fish for the first time.
Meanwhile, water that is far more radioactive continues to gush into the ocean due to a large crack in a six-foot deep pit at the nuclear plant. Over the weekend, workers at the plant used sawdust, shredded newspaper and diaper chemicals in an attempt to plug the area. Water leaking from the pit is about 10,000 times more radioactive than water normally found at a nuclear plant.
American citizens in Hawaii and the West Coast are nervous and uncertain about whether or not they are receiving contaminated food from the Pacific Ocean. This panic is leading many into health food stores for supplements that can help mitigate the effects of high radiation levels in food and water.
According to a Los Angeles Times story, health food stores are scrabbling to satisfy consumer’s demand for supplements:
Stores up and down the West Coast are running low on kelp supplements and other sources of iodine, a nutrient that can protect the thyroid from radiation poisoning. Many people are also hoping to get extra radiation protection from antioxidants, such as vitamin E, vitamin C or selenium, either from supplements or foods.
Even though “experts” are reassuring the public the public that radiation levels are at negligible levels as of right now, there are conflicting reports out of Chernobyl that suggests some people’s fears are warranted. The Associated Press is reporting that the environmental charity Greenpeace claims people, in the now second worst nuclear disaster in world history, continue to consume food contaminated with radiation twenty-five years after the massive explosion.
In the opinion of doctors and radiation specialist, stocking up on iodine pills is only necessary in disaster circumstances, and subsequently, consumption of iodine must be treated with caution. Too much iodine is potentially harmful. In general such exposure would cause immediate anaphylactic shock in those who are allergic. A patient might show very labored breathing and the tongue or throat might swell.
In comparison, fish caught off the coast of Japan and in the Pacific Ocean will have vastly different levels of radiation but will be contaminated nevertheless. If seafood is consumed regularly from such areas, spikes in cancer rates will undoubtedly rise, but this is long-term issue that is still to be determined.
Sound off: Do you think you’ll eat seafood from Pacific in the coming years or will you choose different options? Are you loading up on supplements?