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Fukushima Radiation Found in US Milk

Milk in San Francisco is being tested at radiation levels that are double the maximum amount allowed by the EPA, apparently as a result of radioactive cesium reaching California from the Fukushima disaster.

According to Energy News, three recent milk test results on cartons of milk with "best by" dates of 3/12, 4/9, and 4/16 were shown to have amounts are so small that it would require drinking over tens of thousands of liters of milk to receive the small dose that one receives from a cross-country airplane flight. These isotopes can still be detected in milk because they have long half-lives (2 years and 30 years, respectively) and therefore trace amounts will remain in the grass and hay that the cows feed on.

When scientists wanted to compare the effects of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown with the one at Chernoybl in 1986, they decided to start with the birds. Although far apart, in different countries, both areas are similar ecologically.

They were surprised to find that, in Chernobyl, some species seemed to develop a tolerance for radioactivity over time. They found that, as radiation levels in each area rose, the average number of birds dropped by almost a third--birds literally fell out of the sky. But they found that the same level of radiation was associated with twice as large a drop in bird numbers in Fukushima as in Chernobyl, where many birds had obviously managed to survive a high level of background radiation. What's their secret?

Why this happened isn't known, but the evolutionary process is understood. The Economist reports that: "Evolution has already been at work near Chernobyl, killing off individual birds that cannot cope with the background radiation and allowing the genes of those that have some tolerance to be passed on. The birds at Fukushima are only beginning to face the evolutionary challenge of living in a radioactive world."

Meanwhile, a new study reports that the radiation plume Fukushima hit the US with the greatest exposure in central and southern California, and that seaweed from that area tested over 500% higher for radioactive iodine-131 than anywhere else in the US and Canada.

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