San Francisco Bay Area milk shows highest Iodine-131 found in U.S. since the Fukushima crisis began

Published: April 20th, 2011 at 6:08 pm ET


UCB Milk Sampling Results, University of California, Berkeley Department of Nuclear Engineering:

UCB Statement: “4/19/2011 7:45pm… we added two raw milk samples from local Bay Area dairy farmers.”

2.9 Bq/l = 78.378 pCi/l (conversion calculator)

1 Bq = 27.03 pCi [picocuries]

Published: April 20th, 2011 at 6:08 pm ET


Related Posts

  1. Highest level of radioactive cesium in San Francisco-area milk since September 2011 — Now at 150% of EPA’s maximum contaminant limit (CHART) February 7, 2012
  2. Raw milk near San Francisco shows 150+ pCi/l of Iodine-132 — UC Berkeley says result is due to background interference April 28, 2011
  3. Highest Yet: UCB finds 13+ pCi/l of Cesium-137 in store-bought milk from San Francisco Bay Area April 20, 2011
  4. San Francisco Bay Area milk sample has highest amount of Cesium-137 since last June — Almost double EPA’s maximum contaminant level April 10, 2012
  5. 220 days later: Radiation levels in San Francisco-area milk remain above EPA’s Max Contaminant Level — Cesium-137 continues steady increase that began in August October 20, 2011

54 comments to San Francisco Bay Area milk shows highest Iodine-131 found in U.S. since the Fukushima crisis began

  • JC

    My question is: if this keep going the way it is, or worse…could fukushima turn north america an inhabitable place?

    • Mothra

      It will be chronic low dose deposits of some duration at least until 1,900 tons of fuel there is released by air, land and ocean or audited unspent. Duration of emission estimates range 6 months to a decade.

      • Arizonan

        Each type of radionuclide has a different decay rate; once it decays it may turn into another radioactive element that has yet other properties or a different decay rate. White I-131 is frequently cited as only 8 days, that only means half of it decays in that time. It decays to Xenon 33, which has a different half-life, but is still radioactive. The nuke industry likes to leave that little detail out.

        A decade is a LOW estimate. It partly depends on whether or not they can get these criticality incidents under control, and how far the melting reactors do or do not get out of their containment systems. Emission estimates which do not take into account the 30 yr half life of Caesium 137 – already splattered all over the environment – are already unrealistic. Depending on the isotope of plutonium, it can have a half life of anywhere from about 20 minutes to 24,000 years.

      • Frank Snapp

        It’s actually about 7300 tons of fissile material from Fukushima Dai ichi alone. There are 11 other reactors that are also having difficulties. The total amount of fissile material at Fukushima Dai ichi is over 7300 tons. There are at least 1000 tons in the 6 reactor buildings combining, please correct me if I’m wrong, both nuclear fuel in cores and spent fuel in spent-fuel pools. There is an additional, on site, common spent fuel pool with 6300 tons of spent-fuel rods. Remember that Chernobyl was 50 tons of only reactor core fuel, Uranium dioxide. Fukushima Dai ichi #3 has tons of mixed oxide fuels, MOX, which has a significant proportion of far more radioactive and far more unstable plutonium. The entire budget of spent fuel also is quite high in plutonium. Anything over 5% is quite high in a fuel mixture as far as Plutonium (Pu) goes. Plutonium, is in fact, 2,000,000x more radioactive than Uranium dioxide isotopes. The spent fuel is 1,000,000x more radioactive than the fuel in a reactor core, except where MOX fuels are used. The MOX fuels in, probably already fully melted down and eating it’s way through it’s containment basement basalt fiber reinforced concrete as we speak, is of an unknown factor more radioactive than what melted down fully and is eating it’s way through it’s containment floor in reactor #2 core containment basement. Please also research the, mostly unreported so you’ll have to dig, events at the world’s largest nuclear power plant, Kashiwazaki Kariwa, where a much smaller earthquake near it in 2007, caused a partial meltdown of fuel that probably has yet to be contained though it did not provide the photo op of an exploded external containment building. K.K. is right across–same latitude–from Fukushima Dai ichi and Dai ni on Honshu.

    • Arizonan

      It really depends on how much and how long. It would take years of meltdown emissions to render it “uninhabitable.” Perhaps ten years of high emissions? I don’t know exactly. It also depends on your definition of “uninhabitable.” Some older people have chosen to go back to the farms they lived in around Chernobyl, even though they are still contaminated, preferring a higher cancer risk and a shorter life to life in the city apartments where they had been relocated.

      For sound non-hysterical but extremely concerned advice, please see

      “Iodine 131 and a classic magicians’ distraction technique.

      This post is about radio-Iodine but we have doubts about going with it. If the authorities can get us all thinking about Iodine and then reassure us that actually it’s not a problem except for people in Japan (which is broadly true) then we might not realise that the really dangerous isotopes – Plutonium, Uranium, Strontium, Tritium in particular – are not even being reported. This is a massive failure of Governments’ duty of care.
      However, with that caveat, we’ll fall into the Iodine trap because we have received many requests for advice since the Fukushima emergency began.
      Our early advice on taking stable Iodine is unchanged. It is here.
      The European Committee on Radiation Risk has published a method for calculating doses from drinking water or milk contaminated with Iodine 131. ECRR’s main message is reassuring about the risks, so far as USA and Europe are concerned. They are not much different from what you hear from official sources.

      Calculating doses from Iodine.
      Take the figure for Becquerels per litre (Bq/l). (There is information on the internet. LLRC has no resources for monitoring it all). If, as in USA, the radioactivity levels are expressed in picoCuries (pCi), convert pCi to Becquerels (Bq) by multiplying by 0.037.
      To convert a dietary intake into a dose multiply the Becquerels by 0.11 and the answer will be the dose in microSieverts. For example, if a litre of water is contaminated with 0.5 Bq, drinking it will give 0.5 x 0.11 = 0.055microSv. (This uses the ECRR adult dose coefficient for Iodine 131 which is slightly different to the ICRP dose coefficient – see ECRR 2010 p. 244).
      The cancer risk associated with this dose is small. It can be calculated by dividing the dose in microSv by 1 billion. For the above example this means that if a billion people each drank a litre of water contaminated with 0.5 Bq then 5.5 of them would develop cancer over a period of 50 years. The individual person would increase his or her chances of getting cancer by 1 in 182 million. (This uses the ECRR cancer risk coefficient of 0.1 per Sievert which is different to the ICRP risk coefficient 0.05 per Sievert – see ECRR 2010 p. 180).
      Note that this calculation is for a single intake. Iodine 131 loses half of its radioactivity in 8.04 days. This means that if your water supply comes from rainfall and if the rain becomes contaminated in a single episode the radioactivity will decay to 1/16th of its original concentration during a month and so on. That’s assuming no further releases from the reactor affect your region.”

  • Monitor X

    This site is doing terrific work but you really should check your numbers so I know how to react to what the facts are. 1 Bq = .027 pCi. To say there’s 78 pCi/L is to be off by a factor of a thousand.

  • mikael

    You know, in the end its all about the possebility of a meltdown.
    And what happens then, is difficoult to predict, but the day the Fukoshima plant is beyound reatch. from siteworkers and robots, then the ecalating of the meltdown can contoue undisturbed.
    There are 4 main concerns and 2 on the sideline.
    Its a wourst case senario, but as the leaking have evolved in the reasent weeks, it can be reay ugly.
    This is a slow killer, the only comperable messurment to chemical posoning.
    All this coverup is a selfimposed and false ilution of somehow become a “lesser” danger. This is not in any way like chemicals, this is radioaktiv particles, that can be everywhere and whatever “decompsing” filosofi is no god way of thinking.
    Out of sight, out of mind.

    This one you cant see or taste, and some parts of this leaking is of mankinds worst poison ever made, and its been treated with uter neglect and incompetence.
    Thats a mistake, just wait and see, its just in the beginning of a catastrofe.

    And dont forgett, it accumulates.

  • Regulus

    Melt-down is progress.
    “Earth lice” expect to be briefed?

  • stockdude

    Yes per previous commenter, please correct your conversion units. Love this site, however, having the wrong units could be diasterous to someones “diasaster plan”.

    a simple way to remember =

    1 pico-Curie = 37 Bequerels

  • Where are the Farmers on this???


    Farmers are actually extremely smart earth scientists in their own right. They know what every little threat can mean to their livestock… I’m surprised Farmers, especially the powerful So.Cal multi-Billion agricultural industry lobby, are not organizing and getting worked up about this! It’s a major “inconvenience” at best, local Armageddon at worst!

    • xdrfox

      Maybe they have been know/told, they will not be able to sell irradiated crops, So shhhh!

    • radegan

      Where are the lawyers? If you can show that the GE reactors had design flaws that contributed to the accident – then any California farmer can sue GE. If the GE reactor was located in the US, the damages would be limited to 500 million (what a joke) – but there is no limit on damages from design flaws for a reactor located elsewhere. Go get em, trial lawyers!

  • They want the herd thinned. Remember the Georgia guidestones? Maintain the population under 500,000? This should do nicely towards achieving that goal of theirs. Add fluoride, chemtrails, DU, food irradiation, et al and you have a sick and dying planet.

  • xdrfox

    I went to the Groceries tonight, didn’t need anything, just wanted to see the vegetables and if anyone was smelling for isotopes, hehe, or looking around then pulling out a little black box and waving it over the produce !

    Guess what I saw !

  • George

    An idea: instead of abstract Bq and pCi numbers, how about listing how these measurement compare to 2010 “safe” values?

    Without any idea where 78 pCi/L falls between “safe to drink” and “you’ll be Godzilla tomorrow”, it’s rather difficult to make an educated decision.

    • dan

      Are you the same George that sells geiger counter stuff on ebay?

    • xdrfox

      @ George

      10 years and They/Gov.DHS finally just changed/rid of the Color code for the Terririst Warning Scale that made no sence !

      Give them something hard now !

  • Nevadan

    I also can’t understand the numbers. Please, someone explain what this means. Is it a moderate amount, medium/high…high?

  • Arizonan

    There are two excellent and trustworthy sites which have good explanations of Becquerels, for example, and curies, and pico curies; sieverts, millisieverts, microsieverts, rems, etc. One becquerel per second indicates one atomic disintegration per second, for example. The quantity of radioactive materials is such that the nucleus of one atom breaks apart and shoots a fragment of itself out away from itself with great force (the various parts of the atom that are exploding outwards are designated by beta, gamma, alpha).
    Anyway, The Low Level radiation Campaign in the UK is one of the most reputable of the independent scientific sites, and links there will take you to more information about what the numbers mean, and how to convert from one type of measurement into another:
    In the US, the Nuclear Information Resource Service is also reputable (NIRS), at By reputable I mean these are organizations with long-standing public service, who have concern for scientific validity, and thus are in a position to be appalled by the constant stream of misinformation that comes from most national nuclear authorities, as well as the international IAEA. These national and international authorities tend to be vigorous protectors of and apologists for the billion-dollar nuclear industry.
    For more in-depth reading about what becquerels, curies, rems, sieverts, etc. mean in terms of both mathematics and human health, I refer you to the classic but eternal work by Dr. Rosalie Bertell, No Immediate Danger. This is must reading for any independent-minded citizen who may be a little skeptical of the recent avalanche of soothing nuclear pronouncements followed by news silence that we have all been subjected to over the last month.


  • psky

    so factory-farmed meat, diary, eggs are less radioactive than pasture-raised. S. American produce is safer than locally grown organic produce. Very effective strategy to bankrupt community supported agriculture and small organic family farms. I’ll continue shopping at our local farmers market and drinking my miso soup with seaweed.

  • Arizonan

    By the way, many studies show there is no safe level of radiation. This must be qualified a bit. It must involve internal ingestion (breathing/eating) of any radioactive particle. The more you ingest, the greater the risk, but they have not yet found a particle of plutonium small enough that it will not, eventually, cause cancer. Beta, gamma and alpha particles have different behaviors once they are inside the human body, and it also depends on where they lodge. The body will interpret radioactive materials as best it can, so it believes that isotopes of radioactive iodine are like normal iodine, and it lodges iodine in the thyroid. Even one particle of radioactive iodine, lodged there, can, over time, cause considerable damage to the cells surrounding it every time an atomic has a nuclear disintegration/explosion. How many cells are affected depends on the kind of radiation(s) being emitted. Alpha particles, for example, don’t travel through as many cells as beta particles, but they travel with a lot more energy. Another example of human physiological response is in our tendency to interpret Strontium-90 as calcium for some reason. That’s why it lodges in bones and contributes to leukemia, because of its proximity to cell-producing bone marrow. That’s why scientists around the globe were concerned in the early 60s, when Strontium-90 from the above-ground nuclear tests of the 50s was found in children’s teeth worldwide. It was one of the factors that contributed to the international ban on above-ground testing in 1963.

    The problem with low level radiation – whether it is within their arbitrary and changing numerical ‘standards’ or not – is that it, paradixically, can sometimes be MORE dangerous than higher-levels. Higher levels simply kill affected cells. Lower levels mangle them, and allow them to reproduce ongoing errors. Long-term exposure to internal radionuclides, no matter the quantity, increases risk of cancer. It may also contribute to diabetes, asthma, and other non-cancer effects, as shown by some of the epidemiology done among Australian aborigine populations exposed to fallout from British above-ground tests done there in the 50s.

    There are two major obfuscations the nuclear industry and its mouthpiece authorities regularly indulge in. Every concerned citizen should be aware of these, so that they can be prepared to ask more questions:

    1. Is the reading they are talking about an external dose or an internal dose? Are they taking a reading at the skin with all those geiger counters? Of course they are. They are not measuring internal exposure. If they DO estimate internal dose, they usually average it out across the whole body. This is a very unscientific way to do it, because we all know now that certain radionuclides lodge and concentrate in certain organs; the dose should be related to the size of the organ in which it is concentrated, not arbitrarily averaged out across the whole body. (Some readings merely refer to quantities in air, soil, biomass,water etc.)
    The nuclear industry is forever saying, ‘oh you get more radiation from a chest x-ray, or a flight to LA, or in brazil nut.’ These are also external radiations, unlikely to lodge anywhere in your body and stay there for several years.

    2. This specious list of radiation comparisons regularly summoned by the nuclear industry in their campaign to misinform the public has another important problem. The radiation going through my body on a flight to LA is not ionising radiation. That is, this is not the kind of radiation that produces little microscopic atomic disintegrations/explosions every second it stays in my body – and gamma doesn’t – it goes right on through again. If I breathe in uranium ore dust for twenty years, even though it is soluble and goes out in my pee within a day or two, it is still in radioactive decay during that passage. The problem with increased lung cancers in indigenous miners, for example, comes because they are constantly exposed to ionising radiation – the kind that disintegrates with enough force to knock other atomic particles out of their orbits, or otherwise damage nearby human cell tissue. Insoluble forms of concentrated uranium, on the other hand, are a lot more dangerous, because when you breathe them in they lodge in your body. They are not soluble, so your body has a much harder time getting rid of them. This is why we have seen such a spike in cancers and neurological damage among our Iraq veterans – many were exposed to highly insoluble fine uranium particulate arising either from the Doha fire or battlefield exposures. It also helps to account for the unexpectedly rapid development of increased cancers and birth defects among southern Iraqi populations.

    So start asking those two questions: are they measuring internal or external radiation? are they talking about ionising or non-ionising radiation?

    Little by little anyone and everyone can understand what the nuclear authorities are lying about. The data already exists to show how extensive the harm done to human populations has already been since Madame Curie began her arduous labors to isolate radium.

    Fukushima is one of the greatest disasters and tragedies of our age, and is still unfolding on a daily basis. It may be unfolding for several months or even years. Do not let the news silence fool you. People may get tired of the story on the front pages, but this is not a story anyone should ever ignore. We cannot afford to ignore the story of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or the story of the radium dial painters, or the story of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Why? Because the damage caused by these disasters is not yet over. Because the damage is ongoing, and will be ongoing in nearby human and other living populations for generations to come.

    Sorry if I have gone on for too long. I finally just had to say something instead of just visiting this site every day.


    • xdrfox

      Thank you for your aid, good inf. and well explained w/links.

      Learning and helping others on this journey !

  • A few people are giving me a hard time about putting this on my blog.

    But the comments here and other places from people who are confused by the numbers and simple conversions underscore the point. The point being we need to understand math concepts to be better informed about the world around us.

    In this case the math becomes rather important doesn’t it? Math is a language plus reasoning. Poor math skills mean poor reasoning skills and even worse critical thinking skills.

    They know this and take full advantage of it. They being nuclear apologists and industry promoters who understand how poor this nation’s math skills are. Comparing radiation that you consume to x-rays for example…or to air travel or to a sunburn. Cut your guts open and expose your entrails to the sun for a day, see how that feels. Your skin has evolved to be radiation resistant. Your insides have not. Radiation inside of you in the form of particles that emit alpha and whose half lives increase by a large amount would be similar to exposing your insides to the sun.

    I get very tired of the ludicrous analogies some douchetards use to try and mollify the public’s concern. Everyone reading this blog needs to understand how to take reasonable precautions against unneeded exposure. That starts with reliable un-sensationalized /un-sanitized information.

    People are beginning to see the models that were derided are in fact panning out in spades. It’s in the water, the soil and the food. Call your congressman and demand they begin a program testing fish over the coming months as it is sure to enter the food chain.

    The ocean currents will not disperse the radiation equally into the vast Pacific but carry it into the fishing grounds. The hubris is unbelievable…”we don’t even need to test fish because we are so sure”. I for one am not so sure. They told you it wouldn’t show up in any troubling amounts on the US mainland too didn’t they?

  • John Conway (UC Davis)

    1 Bq = 1 decay per second

    Therefore 1 Bq = 1 Hz of activity.

    1 Curie = 3.7 x 10^10 decays per second (by definition).

    1 pCi = 10^-12 Ci = 3.7 x 10^-2 decays per second = 0.037 Bq.

    I hope this helps. (I am a particle physicist.)

  • Gonzo

    At this point in the game it should be clear that it’s raining radioactive isotopes all over Canada, the United States and Mexico and thast all these three countries should be totally evacuated… By the time this is clear, the police state will enforce staying where you are and dying there. All the Northern hemisphere is alread tainted and will remain so for long ages to come.

  • Novamind

    Holey Cow, I know what they are saying here, you brainiacts are quibling over formulias of equasion that really Does Not Matter at this point!! Lets work on FIXIN the problem/OR its over UNDERSTAND??!!

  • Novamind

    We are at the Point of no return. This is my solution to the problem. Boron tippepBunkerbusters into each reactor, followed by Tomahawck Missles in close time seccession. This in time with the Proper Weather will give a Hole to scoop the evil into and cap. And then clean the ocean of debries. I favor this as, as it stands HUMANS can not appoch it to do anything with or about it. What do you THINK?

    • bluejayway

      clean the ocean of debris

      good idea, but i fear not enough profit to clean up all the waste and radioactive nuclear waste that is routinely dumped into the oceans. the global capitalists only care about blind consumerism and little else.

  • Novamind

    Thumbs UP to Gonzo, as He is probably right,and shoot it out to the end- to win nothing but a slow painful death, such is a hollow Victory, with no Glory and no solution to the problem at hand. Live long us all, enough to suffer the most. Japan can not Whooop this Godzilla on its own.Think of a solution, it is POSSIBLE.

  • Novamind

    I propose that everyone submit your idea for a solution to this nuclear fallout problem that we face, no-matter how bizzare you, or others think it is. Please be Real, Thank You in Advance!

  • possible solution…
    1)install a 4 point 90 degree air scavenging system (jet engines suck pretty good) drawing surrounding atomsphere into channeling piping with exhaust pipes sitting in very deep ocean for water filtration (if ocean is as acknowledged to be good as claimed “WATER FILTERED”)

    2)now tunnel under each reactor…set demolition charges to drop in tunnels each reactor….before charges are to go off….open tunnels up to open ocean canals….let them drop into an ocean fed sub-surface cooling grave

    just some thoughts on an extensive feat which mighjt find resolve to this

  • 1)example above “aquarium air filtration set up”….let that containmated atomsphere be filtered…possible debris field at end of each pipe to aide filtration….i say

    2)building subsurface ocean sewer canal for those reactors to drop into…use the constant flush of the ocean to surface contain the melted cores

  • radegan

    Even assuming the hidden Cs 137 map was the correct one, the accumulated fallout is nowhere near Chernobyl levels by a factor of thousands, so moving a half-billion people is not yet necessary. Now, this is ongoing and Chernobyl was out by this time – that’s the problem. Give us six months of light radioactive ‘dustings’ and a fair amount will accumulate.

    So first, can we put it out and safely entomb the site? The French say yes, and they have now provided a large water processor that removes some of the radioactivity. They have also ordered heat exchangers that can sit outside the wrecked plants and use existing piping already in use, this is a good idea and will help a bit. Fairewinds last video expressed his belief that one of the reactors is not too bad, one is calming down and one is still a wild horse. So I guess we have some small chance of getting it under control if the fuel pool wild reactions can be stopped. It is very, very telling that the French are now deeply involved and the US Marine Radiation unit was sent away without ever seeing anything.

    What if the site must be abandoned due to extreme radioactivity? Then you couldn’t clean it up. And you’d have to choose between catastrophic atmospheric pollution or oceanic. I’m certain that our military planners, as is their job, have commenced emergency planning, including the use of nuclear weapons, to stabilize the site by either vaporizing cores or sinking that section of the coast. Now, that sounds just as silly to me as it does to you – but you can bet your ass it’s happening as you read this and half the scientists involved are saying it will work and the other half saying it will destroy the world. So we better hope we can actually wrestle this gator, Go France.

    It IS time to use this wonderful internet to set up citizen’s monitoring and force our governments to tell the truth by exposing them every time they don’t. The NILO hidden Cesium map was the correct one – it showed the Cs being deposited in Salt Lake and Orlando and Iceland and France – the public map they showed us did not, yet government records show the deposits.

    A fission reaction releases massive amounts of Xe and other particles – Iodine and Cesium among them, in predictable ratios. Should we believe there is a huge cloud of Xenon, but unlike every other reactor, it only made a little Cesium? Or the Cesium and Iodine were removed while crossing the Pacific, falling out in a magical rain that did not affect the Xenon? I suggest you take the public Xe map and use it as a likely model for ALL particulates.

    I had a dream a twenty ago about a terrible nuclear accident. I thought it was France. They had to evacuate all the children and these three little girls ended up with us. Let us hope that somewhere, someone is thinking and planning a potential mass evacuation from Japan. Women and Children first.

    • xdrfox

      “ordered heat exchangers that can sit outside the wrecked plants and use existing piping already in use,”

      There is another story here that they espress it is too hot (levels) for men to go into these areas to hook up and use this idea !

      • Michelle

        I can’t understand why they are not using the military like Russia did during the Chernobyl disaster. They had 600,000 men who ran in for 10 -15 minutes to put out the fire. I know they have been busy with the clean up of the earthquake and tsunami, I’m assuming they would be available at this juncture.

  • once workable solution is found and in place i’d think cargo planes dumping say 1″ dia lead marbles till whole area of concern was lead coated….at some safe point “flash melting surface of lead” build up to seal…say 1 foot deep of whole area in lead marbles….then “flashing surface” and making a solid 1 foot lead wall before concrete inclosure…

    great idea on offshore pumping with connection to exsisting plumbing

    • radegan

      Hmmm….lead marble bombing, well, that’s original, might even work, but unless some big Conglomerate makes lead marbles and owns some politicians, I’m betting they’ll go with another solution. Covering it up without something under it won’t work. Putting a floor under it is impossible until they have a closed water cooling path, even then, it won’t help if the reactor is cracked. The ground is too wet to tunnel, radioactive water is welling up in buildings hundreds of yards away.

  • Regulus

    What is it about depopulation, you moronic “earth lice” fail to understand?
    Go about making your ticky-tacky scratches.
    Build your worthless homes, roads, etc.
    Your piles of excrement are everywhere.
    You are using your feeble minds perform to feats of technology beyond your capacities for control.
    The earth lice wait doom with baited breath.
    Earth lice=morons

    • Michelle

      You can fight with the fellow in the brite nitegown as Donald Fagen would say and all ‘earth lice’ have a date. No worries.

  • Regulus

    Why can’t the military just go in and use a potholder?

  • Regulus


  • Regulus

    Feel free to lie down at will.

  • It occurs to me that its a good idea to start growing stuff like chard, spinach, lettuce at home and sheltered from the rain. I am going to start planting in buckets that can be moved onto the porch when its rainy, will water them with filtered water. Because the cesium really affects those lush leafy greens we need to keep eating…