A team of scientists who have been tracking radiation in bluefin tuna since the 2011 tsunami that crippled the Fukushima Daichi power plant have a message for fearful American eaters: Stop worrying about the health effects of eating fish that carried the radiation from Japan to U.S. shores.
"Fears regarding environmental radioactivity, often a legacy of Cold War activities and distrust of governmental and scientific authorities, have resulted in perception of risks by the public that are not commensurate with actual risks," wrote marine biogeochemist Nicholas Fisher of Stony Brook University in New York and his co-authors in Monday's online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Fisher and his colleagues analyzed measurements of radioactive cesium from Fukushima in bluefin tuna caught off the California coast to estimate the dose of radioactivity a person might receive from eating the tuna. (For more on this monitoring and the work of scientist Dan Madigan, who uses the cesium measurements to study tuna migration, check out the Los Angeles Times story "Radioactive tuna from Fukushima? Scientists eat it up," in the related links at left.)
The team reported that a 7-ounce, restaurant-size serving of Pacific bluefin tuna contaminated with cesium at the level recorded in fish caught off the coast of San Diego in August 2011 delivered a 7.7 nanosievert dose of radiation -- about 5% of the dose one would get from eating a garden-variety banana. Bananas contain a naturally occurring isotope of potassium, they wrote.