Cover Story: Study on Fukushima Fallout in US — Elevated levels of radioactive cadmium and technetium

Published: May 3rd, 2012 at 4:58 pm ET


Fukushima fallout on this month’s cover
RSC Publishing
03 May 2012
By Francesca Burgoyne

The article on the cover this month is from R. Nelson and colleagues, who have looked at trace levels of radioactivity in air, water, and milk samples in the United States over several weeks following the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March last year.

The article found that while levels of certain cadmium, technetium and iodide radionucleotides were elevated, these levels were still ‘well below any level of public and environmental concern’. […]

~$55 to read article

Radioactive fallout in the United States due to the Fukushima nuclear plant accident
P. Thakur , S. Ballard and R. Nelson
J. Environ. Monit., 2012,14, 1317-1324
DOI: 10.1039/C2EM11011C
Received 17 Dec 2011, Accepted 20 Feb 2012
First published on the web 29 Mar 2012


The release of radioactivity into the atmosphere from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant started on March 12th, 2011. Among the various radionuclides released, iodine -131 (131I) and cesium isotopes (137Cs and 134Cs) were transported across the Pacific Ocean and reached the United States on 17–18 March 2011. Consequently, an elevated level of fission products 131I, 132I, 132Te, 134Cs and 137Cs were detected in air, water, and milk samples collected across the United States between March 17 and April 4, 2011. The continuous monitoring of activities over a period of 25 days and spatial variations across more than 100 sampling locations in the United States made it possible to characterize the contaminated air masses. For the entire period, the highest detected activity values ranged from less than 1 m Bq m−3 to 31 m Bq m−3 for the particulate 131I, and up to 96 m Bq m−3 for the gaseous 131I fraction.

Published: May 3rd, 2012 at 4:58 pm ET


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30 comments to Cover Story: Study on Fukushima Fallout in US — Elevated levels of radioactive cadmium and technetium


    I think that says less than 1 MILLION Bq per cubic meter and up to 96 MILLION Bq per cubic meter… Sounds like an AWFUL lot of radiation in the air in the US


      on the other hand it could be micro Bq. Is a Micro Bq an actual unit?

      • lam335 lam335

        I think mBq = mille becquerel

        I think micro becquerel would be written with a "u" since that is the closest thing on the keyboard to the Greek letter that is used to represent micro (I think it's a Greek letter).

        Micro is smaller than mille; by a factor of what, I'm not sure

      • HoTaters HoTaters

        1/1,000 = mili Bq

        1/1,000 of the mili Bq is one micro Bq

    • fireguyjeff fireguyjeff

      In the science world, m in lower case is milli, i.e. 1/1000

      M in upper case is mega, i.e. million

      In keyboard ASCII text,

      k = kilo (x 1000)
      m = milli (1/1000 one thousandth)

      M = million (x 1,000,000)
      u = micro (1/1,000,000 one millionth)

      G = giga (x 1,000,000,000 one billion)
      n = nano (1/1,000,000,000 one billionth)

      When possible, the corresponding (defined) Greek symbols are preferred.

  • el

    we will just have to trust them and their "data" and what "normal" is…..

  • Ganxet Ganxet

    Bq is yet a small unit. 1Ci=3,7e+10 Bq. micro Bq has no sense.

    • fireguyjeff fireguyjeff

      Well, not to get too technical, but…..
      one could possibly measure 1 decay emission over a period of a million seconds and that would be a micro Bq.

      Yet not all that relevant to the situation at hand.

  • jec jec

    they just try and confuse everyone with numbers and measurements..and create math fear. So no one asks any questions.

  • Ganxet Ganxet

    yes. think 1bq = 1 desintegration per second. and each fission subproduct has it's own energy.
    maybe next year TEPCO will say "on 1st may SP4 burned" who knows.
    No nukes please.
    Begin reducing your home consumption by using led technology.

    • selfsovereign

      Hi Ganxet,
      Here's a guy who developed high output leds, quite an interesting read.
      Some cities in the united states have switched their streetlights/stoplights to leds and are saving over a HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS per month.Take that energy cartels……….
      "Brilliant! : Shuji Nakamura and the revolution in lighting technology" / Bob Johnstone.!%3A%20Shuji%20Nakamura%20and%20the%20Revolution%20in%20Lighting%20Technology

      My library had this one

      • fireguyjeff fireguyjeff

        The switch the red LEDs for stop lights happened well over 10 years ago.
        Even with the LED array being more expensive than a conventional incandescent, the cost of replacing a failed incandescent stop light bulb was far beyond the cost of the bulb.
        A medium to large sized city would need a full time crew just to deal with replacing failed incandescent stop lights.

        This book on Nakamura is also from 2007.
        Much has happened since in terms of what are known as "white LEDs", which are not truly white in the semiconductor physics sense, but that is too off topic for here.

        It is my understanding that Nichia (where he worked) still has the patent for "white" LED technology as we know it.

  • Cisco Cisco

    RSC Publishing…a conglomeration of industry members promoting their businesses. i.e…RSC publishes the "Journal of Environmental Monitoring" and "Chemistry World", just to name a few. These publications are trade magazines that make their money supporting the industries they follow and shill for.

    The publisher has a stake in preserving its relationship with advertisers and trade groups. It would be suicide to report what’s really happening/happened at Fukushima Daiichi as many of their advertisers and supporting members are associated as vendors/suppliers/consultants/etc. to the nuclear industry.

    A professional researcher would regard an article about “levels of certain cadmium, technetium and iodide radionucleotides…”, in the “Journal of Environmental Monitoring” to be industry biased. Their findings don’t wash with what has already been established by far greater scientists and reputable professional monitoring entities.

    Bull S#%t…I say!

  • PoorDaddy PoorDaddy

    Now there's a REAL word…..Technitium! It sounds like super turds from all our ill-fated, high-tech waste.
    Cadmium, on the other hand, sounds so mundane…. just another day at the office.

    • HoTaters HoTaters

      On the other hand, it could be radioactive turds produced by some nuclear boor or cad.

  • PoorDaddy PoorDaddy

    Here's a few other radioactive elements with place names. I assume these are named after places that soon will be uninhabitable, but I may be wrong.
    Europium, Americium, and my personal favorite, Californium.

  • PoorDaddy PoorDaddy

    And we can't ignore the precious elements.
    Silver and Palladium. Rubidium, and the ever popular and affordable Zirconium…..treasure them for life, however short that might be.
    And one element I just find whimsical and serendipitous…..GADOLINIUM 153!

  • demo demo

    This is good news, folks, from this peer-reviewed journal: "while levels of certain cadmium, technetium and iodide radionucleotides were elevated, these levels were still ‘well below any level of public and environmental concern’

    • voltscommissar

      "…whilst dispersed widely in the air." OTOH, once they settle on the ground, get incorporated into the food chain, and become part of our daily bread/beer/bratwurst, it may be a different matter. Gundersen has clearly stated that levels of radionuclides are a matter of public health concern and will cause an increase in North American cancer deaths over coming years/decades. That cancer risk increase may be small overall, but is definitely "concerning" for the relatives of the people who die from it.

      It seems Cisco is on the money, saying that this expensive, pay-to-read report is leaving important scientific facts out of their spiel. Thakur, Ballard & Nelson have presumably discounted the effect of internal emitters to zero, following the party-line of the nuclear establishment. The stated levels of thousandths of a Bq per cubic metre of air surely is a misreporting, as it would take years to count it to even one significant figure or accuracy. You cannot catch gaseous I-131 in a filter, so how could they have been extrapolating from air-filter samples?? Something very fishy here, IMO.

    • sworldpeas

      Except… America has the highest allowable levels of radioactive particles then any other country. So when they say "these levels were still ‘well below any level of public and environmental concern’ it means it could be higher then any other country in the world but it's not a concern for us? The supporters of the nuclear industry also said it was "non-catastrophic" Do you believe that? If this is "good news" then you can have my share.

  • PhilipUpNorth philipupnorth

    Gundersen talks a lot about hotparticles as a dangerous form of radioactivity, without regard to the specific isotope involved. Hotparticles are nasties floating about in the air we breathe, in the water we drink, and in the food we eat. He indicates an average internal dose of about 10 hotparticles per day in Japan. Five hotparticles a day along west coast of US and Canada, perhaps a bit less going east. That is 5 hotparticles a day for the past year plus! Maybe when we get above 10,000 hotparticles inside us, we won't need flashlights or night lights anymore. We'll be able to see in the dark by our own glow!

    • What-About-The-Kids

      Hi PhillupNorth. I remember seeing Arnie's video discussing the hot particles (I'm in Seattle, so I was especially interested and concerned to hear what he had to say about hot particles.)

      However, I was under the impression he meant that this was the amount of hot particles we were breathing in during the height of the fallout plume as it reached us after the explosions at Fuku last March.

      The Pacific Northwest Labs found we were breathing in 40,000 time "natural background" of radioactive xenon gas at that time. But this initial plume of gases has long dissipated…though that's not not to say there are not new emissions from burning spent fuel or corium-water steam interactions, or air-born releases after the burning of debris, which are still adding to the amount of radioactivity in our air today. I just don't think it is quite as much as in the immediate aftermatch of the Fuku explosions last March.

      If you have additional information on this which shows otherwise, please let us know! Thanks!

      • What-About-The-Kids

        P.S. The link you provided to A Green Road's website doesn't load properly in my smartphone.

        Just some feedback to AGR if you're reading this. You may need to optimize your website to be viewable on mobile phones. (Or maybe its just my phone? I will try a different browser, just in case. I was using Opera when it wasn't loading properly.)

        • What-About-The-Kids

          Ah, as I suspected, it was the Opera browser that doesn't work with AGRoad's blog format. My other browser worked ok. 🙂

      • Cisco Cisco

        TEPCO has/is reporting they are dumping 1000 tons/day of radioactive water into the Pacific. That's 240,000 gallons per day and nearly a million gallons every 4 days. As this massive radioactive plum grows and moves westward towards our coast, radioactive particles are released into the atmosphere through evaporation. That forms clouds which eventually release the radiation in the resulting rain.

        Little has been discussed about evaporation, but it is a huge component in the overall mix of contaminating events. The folks who are in charge have been good at steering our minds away from this one. Imagine that the Pacific Ocean is like a huge kettle that is boiling, imagine the scale of this brew, and then think about evaporation…like boiling. It's not rocket science.

        BP contended its Deep Horizon was leaking about 1000 barrels a day. It turned out to be, depending on whose figures are more correct, at least 60,000 barrel a day, or 60 times BP's estimate.
        TEPCO says/said they are dumping 1000 tons of radioactive water, a day. They have been caught more than a dozen times for skewing and hiding the facts. History has shown these types of companies, their regulators, and their government to be liars.

        So, what's the real number? I cringe to think.

        Some justice for the bastards, who did this, will be their demise; unfortunately, we’re going to go with them.

  • StillJill StillJill

    I'm hoping to acquire xray vision when I reach 10,000 hot particles! 🙂