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Low levels of radioactive compounds have been detected in bluefin tuna off the California coast.
Cesium-137 and cesium-134 were found in 15 tuna captured near San Diego last August, Reuters reports. Scientists believe the fish carried the radioactive materials from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. The chemicals were released into the waters along the country's eastern coast following the tsunami last year.
So how bad is the radiation?
Apparently, it's still below the Japanese safety limit, according to lead author Daniel Madigan of Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station. However, he wouldn't say whether the fish was or wasn't safe to eat.
"It's become clear that some people feel that any amount of radioactivity, in their minds, is bad and they'd like to avoid it," Madigan said. "But compared to what's there naturally ... and what's established as safety limits, it's not a large amount at all."
Though some cesium-137 is naturally found in bluefin tuna, the amount discovered in the fish in the study was five times the usual amount. On the other hand, cesium-134 is made only through human activities, such as nuclear power.
Bluefin tuna is sold all over the world, including in America. While the amount is reportedly still within Japanese safety limits, if people here get sick from eating it, a product liability lawsuit could be possible. In such situations, all retailers and companies in the chain of distribution could be held legally responsible.
But perhaps the most disturbing revelation uncovered in the study is that the bluefin tuna transported the radioactive materials faster than water and wind.
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