Key Thoughts Institutions such as the World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRFI) need to juxtapose their lifestyle advice against the reality of radioactive fallout that is spreading through our oceans. Joined-up thinking may help mitigate the development of cancer. Epidemiological data collection that ignores the greater environmental backdrop results in incomplete research.
Yesterday, an e-mail from one of my past professors reminded that Fukushima is still out there. Attached to his e-mail was an 11 minute U-tube video which I couldn't watch because the thing kept stopping 20 seconds after starting. So I just tried to recall what I could about the isotopes associated with Fukushima and here is a little bit that I have put together.
(1) In late October of this year, rain cause a radioactive leak of Strontium 90, a radioactive isotope produced during nuclear reactions. Strontium has an affinity for, and can be accumulated by, bones, where it remains potent for many years and is implicated in several types of cancer in human beings.[ Indeed, research done at Imperial College, London, resulted in the creation of Stronbone, which is 12% soft bone and a 40% carrier for Strontium Sr 2+, the purpose of which is to encourage osteoblasts but reduce activity of osteocytes].
The other three isotopes of interest are Iodine 131, Caesium 134 and Caesium 137.
(2) Iodine 131 fortunately has a half-life of 8 days and considering the original event at Fukushima was 2 years ago, most of the iodine 131 should have decayed.
(3) Caesium 134 has a half-life of about 2 years, so the original quantity in the fallout should now be about half.
(4) Caesium 137, however, is a worry; it has a half-life of about 30 years, which means it is still largely all there. Caesium 137 is a fission product of uranium-235; Cs-137 decays by beta emission to meta-stable Ba-137 (half-life about 150 secs) which decays emitting gamma radiation.
Gamma radiation is electromagnetic radiation of very high frequency i.e. very energetic, and is ionizing. This means it is biologically hazardous. Cs 137 is usually combined with other elements to form salts which easily move and spread in nature because these salts are unfortunately very soluble in water. Consequently, one would expect that Cs137 salts have moved quite a long way from the original spill through ocean currents.
The World Cancer Research Fund Institute functions, through its assessment of epidemiological data, to encourage and possibly legislate in favour of healthy life styles to avert or reduce the incidence of cancer. This ethos is excellent for the greater good, especially in countries where cancer care is funded by the public purse. However, what does one do when Cs 137 salts are sloshing about in our briny blue oceans?