-- HealthDay staff
WEDNESDAY, Sept. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Traces of radioactive
fallout from the Japanese nuclear reactor damaged in the March
earthquake were detected around San Francisco Bay, scientists
report, but at such low levels they posed no health risk to
A magnitude 9.0 quake severely compromised the Fukushima
Dai-ichi power plant on March 11, but just how far the radioactive
fallout from the event traveled has been unclear, noted researchers
reporting online Sept. 21 in the journal
They sampled rainwater in Berkeley, Oakland and Albany, Calif.,
from March 16 to 26, looking for abnormally high levels of
radioactive isotopes of cesium, iodine and tellurium. The team, led
by Eric B. Norman of the department of nuclear engineering at the
University of California, Berkeley, also sampled vegetables and
milk sold in the San Francisco Bay area, and weeds from the Oakland
The samples of rainwater, weeds and foods did contain
higher-than-normal levels of radioactive materials, and testing
showed "clear evidence of [nuclear] fission products," the
researchers reported. Levels of radioactivity appeared to peak on
March 24 before settling back to normal, they added.
However, because of the extremely short half-life (rate of
decay) of the radioactive materials, "the levels of fallout that we
have observed in San Francisco Bay area rainwater pose no risk to
the public," the team wrote.
As for the levels found in vegetables and milk in March, they
added that "the levels of activity observed in these samples also
pose no hazard to the public."
Find out more about nuclear plant accidents and potential health
risks to humans at the
U.S. National Cancer Institute.
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