Fukushima dumping threat makes U.S. groups ask FDA for tighter food standards

Yummy sushi

As Japan prepares to release 1.3 million tons of Fukushima radioactive wastewater into the Pacific Ocean this summer, an increasing number of countries continue to voice strong opposition.

A report released Monday by Fukushima operator, TEPCO, showed that fish caught off the harbor at Fukushima contained 180 times the level allowed in Japan of radioactive isotope cesium (100 Bq/kg). The U.S. limit for radiocesium in food is 12 times higher than Japan’s (1200 Bq/kg), and this is why, in 2013, parents and radiation health experts filed a Citizen Petition with the FDA calling for safer guidelines for radioisotopes in food.

Fukushima Fallout Awareness Network (FFAN), Citizens for Health, Ecological Options Network (EON), and Beyond Nuclear petitioned FDA to lower the non-binding FDA guideline of 1,200 becquerels per kilogram (Bq/Kg) for cesium 134 and 137 to a binding 5 Bq/kg. The FDA has to date, failed to act. U.S. groups are now again, demanding FDA establish safer rules for radioisotopes in food, as current guidelines lag behind science and other countries.

The groups are taking this opportunity to challenge not only FDA’s standards for cesium 134 and 137 but also FDA’s position that tritium carries an extremely low health risk compared to other radioisotopes. Tritium cannot be filtered from water and has been known to bioaccumulate in seafood. A recent paper that reviews all of the data on tritium, concludes “contrary to some popular notions that tritium is a relatively benign radiation source, the vast majority of published studies indicate that…internal exposures… can have significant biological consequences including damage to DNA, impaired physiology and development, reduced fertility and longevity, and can lead to elevated risks of diseases including cancer. Our principal message is that tritium is a highly underrated environmental toxin that deserves much greater scrutiny.”


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