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Sun Mar 19, 2017, 11:33 AM

Deluded Scientists Think They Can Reassure the Public on the Fukushima Tuna.

Last edited Sun Mar 19, 2017, 03:13 PM - Edit history (2)

Some years back before I was banned from Daily Kos for telling the truth about nuclear energy I wrote a piece there about the famous Tuna "contaminated" by Fukushima Cesium that was captured off the coast of California.

Some Remarks On the PNAS Radioactive Tuna Paper.

Recently here and elsewhere there's been some hubub about the "Fukushima Radioactive Tuna." Hopefully the ignorance, fear and superstition surrounding the famous radioactive tuna will result in less people eating tuna, since the argument is well made that this would respresent a rare case in which ignorance, fear and superstiton has a positive consequence.

Tuna are a stressed, if not endangered, species. If people are inspired to not eat them, there could be positive effects on marine ecology...


Like most of my writings over there, and many here, the "diary" was built around a paper in the primary scientific literature, specifically this one:

Pacific bluefin tuna transport Fukushima derived radionuclides from Japan to California

The authors of this paper were, um, a little surprised to see how the media picked up this paper, and so a little later they wrote another paper in the same prestigious journal to um, "correct" the nonsense hyped in the scientifically illiterate general media.

I came across this paper in my general Sunday science readings. It is here:

Evaluation of radiation doses and associated risk from the Fukushima nuclear accident to marine biota and human consumers of seafood

In it the authors write:

Recent reports describing the presence of radionuclides released from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Pacific biota (1, 2) have aroused worldwide attention and concern. For example, the discovery of [sup]134[/sup]Cs and [sup]137[/sup]Cs in Pacific Bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis; PBFT) that migrated from Japan to California waters (2) was covered by >1,100 newspapers worldwide and numerous internet, television, and radio outlets. Such widespread coverage reflects the public’s concern and general fear of radiation. Concerns are particularly acute if the artificial radionuclides are in human food items such as seafood. Although statements were released by government authorities, and indeed by the authors of these papers, indicating that radionuclide concentrations were well below all national safety food limits, the media and public failed to respond in measure.


The bold is mine. "The media and the public failed to respond in measure"

In measure...

In measure...

The authors point out that the [sup]210[/sup]Po found naturally in seafood as a result of the fact that the sea naturally contains roughly 5 billion tons of its parent nuclide, uranium 238, represents a radiation dose that is, and always has been, since the first Homo sapiens ate seafood, 600 times higher than that from Fukushima radionuclides right outside the reactor.

The authors note that a "subsistence fishmerman" - there not many of these in the modern world - consuming 124 kg of fish per year would face a fatal cancer risk that is 2 in 10,000,000 higher from Fukushima the risk without the reactor, but note that the cancer risk is, and never will be 100% to start. They note this is actually so small, that is impossible to actually determine that it is a real risk at all.

I never tire of referring to the paper published in Lancet a few years back that details the risk of the 67 highest risk factors to which all of humanity is exposed, not just a possibly fetishized subsistence fisherman. Seven million people die each year from air pollution.

A comparative risk assessment of burden of disease and injury attributable to 67 risk factors and risk factor clusters in 21 regions, 1990–2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 (Lancet 2012, 380, 2224–60. For air pollution mortality figures see Table 3, page 2238 and the text on page 2240.)

It was noted in this space by another poster that Japan, in order to "diversify" its electricity supply, that Japan plans to build 45 new coal plants. These plants will kill people without any accident at all. They kill whenever they operate.

Japanese government planning to build 45 new coal fired power stations to diversify supply

In the authors of the original PNAS paper on the "radioactive" Tuna and its, um, putative "reassurance" conclusion write:

This study shows that the committed effective dose received by humans based on a year’s average consumption of contaminated PBFT from the Fukushima accident is comparable to, or less than, the dose we routinely obtain from naturally occurring radionuclides in many food items, medical treatments, air travel, or other background sources (28). Although uncertainties remain regarding the effects of low levels of ionizing radiation on humans (30), it is clear that doses and resulting cancer risks associated with consumption of PBFT in eastern and western Pacific waters are low and below levels that should cause concern to even the most exposed segments of human populations. 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.


The bold is, again, mine.

This would be funny except that the fear and ignorance the paper proposes to address will kill people since we live in a time of dire environmental stress for which, I contend after years of study of the issue for which nuclear energy is the only viable technology that has a chance of saving what can be saved.

The authors of the PNAS papers are kidding themselves if they think the "public" will act intelligently or wisely and not view things in paranoid isolation from one another. Scientists are in no position to address stupidity, the stupidity associated with the Fukushima event, and stupidity anywhere else, whether the issue is vaccinations, or genetic modification, or the health consequences of fossil fuels.

We live, afterall, in a world where there were enough people who thought that having Donald Trump be President of the United States would be a good idea that it actually happened.

The media played a huge role in the promotion of Donald Trump, just as it is playing a huge role in climate change and, peripherally, not that we care, in the 7 million air pollution deaths as well as other environmentally related deaths, such as a lack of basic sanitation for more than a billion people.

I was banned at Daily Kos for stating that opposing nuclear energy is murder.

I cannot apologize for this statement, since it is murder, but there is nothing I can do to prevent this murder from becoming more wide spread.

The propaganda machine told you that banning nuclear energy in Japan would be fine since so called "renewable energy" is so great. It is not great. It didn't work. It isn't working. It won't work. We're now well above 400 ppm of the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide in the planetary atmosphere and no one alive today will ever see a level below that, but it is almost certain that many of them will see values much, much higher.

Japan is building coal plants because, um, they convinced themselves that nuclear energy wasn't, um, "safe."

End of story.

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Reply Deluded Scientists Think They Can Reassure the Public on the Fukushima Tuna. (Original post)
NNadir Mar 2017 OP
OnlinePoker Mar 2017 #1
NNadir Mar 2017 #2
OnlinePoker Mar 2017 #3
NNadir Mar 2017 #5
eppur_se_muova Mar 2017 #4
NNadir Mar 2017 #6

Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sun Mar 19, 2017, 01:00 PM

1. It's not just tuna that's getting the works

Trace of Fukushima found

A sockeye salmon containing trace amounts of a radioactive isotope from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in Japan was found in Okanagan Lake.

The discovery was made in the summer of 2015 by the Integrated Fukushima Ocean Radionuclide Monitoring network, an organization of academic, government and non-government organizations that are acquiring data and assessing the risks to Canada's oceans posed by the nuclear plant's meltdown and release of radioactive material.

http://www.castanet.net/news/Kelowna/184365/Trace-of-Fukushima-found

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Response to OnlinePoker (Reply #1)

Sun Mar 19, 2017, 01:23 PM

2. The "report" is not peer reviewed, it comes from an anti-nuclear group...

Last edited Sun Mar 19, 2017, 03:24 PM - Edit history (1)

...and it has nothing, absolutely nothing to say about risk.

We may contrast your link with two papers to which I provided links in the OP in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which is, in case you're not familiar with the primary scientific literature - which is by definition peer reviewed - one of the most prestigious journals in the world.

For a paper to be published in PNAS, it needs to go through 3 levels of peer review, where the peers are respected scientists who are regarded as experts in the field.

There is a subset of people who are killing the planet by making the argument that nuclear energy, and only nuclear energy needs to be risk free in order to be vastly superior to everything else.

This is nonsense, in the present case, criminal nonsense.

It is not a requirement that nuclear energy never injure anyone, anywhere at any time to make it safer than everything else. There are no other forms of energy that meet this requirement. To be vastly superior, and safer than everything else, nuclear energy only needs to be vastly superior and safer than everything else, which it is.

Zero.

None.

Nuclear energy saves lives, and therefore opposing nuclear energy by attaching to it requirements that no other form of energy can even come close to meeting it is, again, murder.

The coal plants being built in Japan will kill people whenever they operate, and not only after a tsunami. (Rising seas, I note, will make all future tsunamis even more deadly than the one that killed a quarter of a million people in 2004, and excluding any radiation deaths that may come in some future, 20,000 people in Japan in 2011.)

The numbers of people who will be killed by coal plants in Japan operating normally will be on the order of tens or hundreds of thousands.

I'm not sure you care, but if you don't give a shit about the people who will be killed by the normal operations of coal plants in Japan and elsewhere, you're hardly alone, although, in my view, people who think this way are destroying this planet for all future generations.

This picayune bullshit about an a few decays from a few atoms of "fukushima cesium" in a fish in Canada is not merely absurd, it is appalling.

Have a nice Sunday evening.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #2)

Sun Mar 19, 2017, 03:27 PM

3. FFS...my post was in support of yours. n/t

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Response to OnlinePoker (Reply #3)

Sun Mar 19, 2017, 03:39 PM

5. I realize that, and I also realize that it sounded as if my comments were directed at you...

Last edited Sun Mar 19, 2017, 05:27 PM - Edit history (1)

...since I inappropriately said "...if you don't care, you're not alone..."

But apparently you do care.

Thus if I sounded as if I were addressing you personally, instead of the vast "you" of the general public, I apologize.

This whole universe of Fukushima nonsense makes me extremely angry; I'm always angry about it, because the situation is getting much, much, much worse at the highest rate ever observed.

The right is in denial, but we on the left are elevating the trivial over the dire. The "anniversary" of Fukushima was much noted here at DU in a way that frankly pissed me off since it's incredibly ignorant.

Sorry about that.

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sun Mar 19, 2017, 03:33 PM

4. Then there's this ...

... mercury levels in yellowfin tuna had increased at an annual rate of almost 4 percent from 1998 through 2008. Rising mercury levels in oceans because of pollution from coal-fired power plants and other industrial sources are to blame, the study suggested.
***
Even using the current EPA limit, our experts’ analysis of Food and Drug Administration data indicates that a 48-pound child would go over that limit by eating more than 1.4 ounces of albacore per week, which is about one-third of a can. A woman weighing about 140 pounds would exceed it by eating more than 4.5 ounces of albacore weekly.
***
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2015/06/too-much-tuna-too-much-mercury/index.htm


For the University of Michigan study on mercury in tuna, researchers reanalyzed data from four other studies that measured total mercury levels in the muscle tissue of yellowfin tuna that were caught in the North Pacific near Hawaii: 111 fish in 1971, 104 fish in 1998 and 14 fish in 2008. They found that concentrations of the toxin in Hawaiian yellowfins did not change between 1971 and 1998, but over the next 10 years, mercury levels shot up at a rate of 3.8 percent or more per year.
***
When you eat seafood containing methylmercury—the form found in seafood—more than 95 percent is absorbed into your bloodstream.
***
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2015/02/levels-of-mercury-in-tuna-are-on-the-rise/index.htm


A 2009 study led by researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey and Harvard University found that mercury levels measured in the waters of the northern Pacific Ocean had risen about 30 percent over 20 years. But the Hawaiian yellowfin tuna study is the first to document a consequent increase in mercury levels of open-water fish, according to the study’s authors. Calling for more stringent reductions in mercury emissions, they warned that if mercury continues to be deposited into the ocean at current rates, mercury levels in the North Pacific will double by 2050. “Mercury contamination of ocean fish is a serious global health issue," they concluded.
***
the UM paper: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/etc.2883/abstract (abstract only; full paper behind paywall)



Seems more worth worrying about than does water-soluble cesium.

PS: Albacore is considered the safer tuna to eat.

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Response to eppur_se_muova (Reply #4)

Sun Mar 19, 2017, 03:42 PM

6. There are many people on this planet who think coal is going away.

It isn't.

To the extent that no one eats Tuna, of course, is a good thing in terms of the fish population, although it is likely in this century that the fish population will be far more impacted by climate change than by people eating fish.

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