Fukushima radiation not a cause for concern in B.C.

Annie Huang, co-owner of Oakridge Fish Market, said that she is relieved that radiation from Japan in fish is harmless.
Photo by Edrick Dudang

March 11 marked the third anniversary of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, and the resulting nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant. But while radiation from the plant spreads to Canada, scientists say the risk to Canadians is very low.

Radiation too diluted to be considered harmful

According to Anne Trudel, nuclear safety expert at UBC’s TRIUMF lab, the radiation from Fukushima in the air poses no threat to British Columbians because it has “dispersed” greatly in the atmosphere. This process makes the radiation less concentrated thus making it harmless to residents in the West, Trudel said.

Trudel said that fish do have radiation from Fukushima, but it poses no health risk because it is so diluted. The amount of radiation in fish is much higher from the earth than new radiation from Fukushima, she said.

Trudel cited a Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study, which said that scientists discovered that the Pacific blue fin tuna, a fish that migrates from Japan to North America, contains 0.0009mSv of radiation. Health Canada states that Canadians receive approximately 2mSv to 4mSv annually from natural background radiation. While any additional radiation is harmful, Trudel said that radiation from Fukushima is too low to be a significant risk.

Radioactivity in ordinary bananas and avocados too

Trudel added that the human body is exposed to radiation every day and said Vancouverites should not be worried about the limited radiation from Japan.

“We eat fish and we get a little bit of radioactivity,” she said. “We consume radioactivity when we eat bananas and when we eat avocados. [There are] quite a few foods that has naturally occurring radioactivity.”

While British Columbians are safe from the fallout, Japan is still recovering.

Langara biology student Akio Suzuki has an uncle who lived in the Fukushima province. He says his uncle had to evacuate to Tokyo because of the meltdown of the nuclear plant. Also, he said his uncle’s house was destroyed due to the earthquake.

When he visited Japan two years ago, Suzuki’s uncle showed him his neighbourhood. Suzuki said the neighbourhood was “wrecked,” but says his uncle is fine.

Reported by Edrick Dudang

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