Sunday, January 19, 2014

太平洋海藻モニタリング Pacific Kelp Monitoring

Berkeley Lab and Cal State Long Beach Researchers Launch ‘Kelp Watch’ to Determine Extent of Fukushima Contamination

A kelp forest near Catalina Island. (Thomas Farrugia)

JANUARY 13, 2014

Jon Weiner

Researchers from California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have launched “Kelp Watch 2014,” a scientific campaign designed to determine the extent of radioactive contamination of the state’s kelp forest from Japan’s damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant following the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami.


Initiated by CSULB Biology Professor Steven L. Manley and the Berkeley Lab’s Head of Applied Nuclear Physics Kai , the project will rely on samples of Giant Kelp and Bull Kelp from along the California coast.

“The California kelp forest is a highly productive and complex ecosystem and a valuable state resource. It is imperative that we monitor this coastal forest for any radioactive contaminants that will be arriving this year in the ocean currents from Fukushima disaster,” said Manley, an expert in marine algae and kelp.

“I receive calls and emails weekly from concerned visitors and Californians about the effect of the Fukushima disaster on our California marine life,” he continued. “I tell them that the anticipated concentrations that will arrive are most likely very low but we have no data regarding its impact on our coastal ecosystem. Kelp Watch 2014 will provide an initial monitoring system at least in the short-term.”

The project includes the participation of 19 academic and government institutions and three other organizations/businesses. These participants will sample kelp from the entire California coastline as far north as Del Norte County and as far south as Baja California. The sampling will begin in mid-February and will end in late winter.

“What I have attempted to do is to organize marine scientists and educators from up and down the coastline to collect a large amount of kelp several times a year so that we can ascertain the amount of radioactive material entering our kelp forests,” Manley explained. “The response has been overwhelming.  Recently I was contacted by a scientist in Washington State, who wants to send samples. I said ‘Sure.’”

Sampling will take place several times in 2014, and processed kelp samples will be sent to the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s Low Background Facility for detailed radionuclide analysis. As data becomes available it will be posted for public access.

“Working with Dr. Vetter and his group is a perfect collaboration because of their vast experience in measuring radioactivity in a variety of biological samples, including seaweeds,” Manley noted. “His enthusiasm and support of Kelp Watch 2014 has been most gratifying. If the kelp takes up the radioactive material, we should detect it.”

Vetter, who is also a professor of nuclear engineering at UC Berkeley, pointed out that “UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab’s analysis within the new Kelp Watch initiative is part of a larger, ongoing, effort to measure Fukushima related radionuclides in a large variety of objects.  We have two main objectives—to learn more about the distribution and transport of these materials in our world, and to make the results and explanations available to the public.

“Making our results available is a critical aspect of our work as it allows us to address concerns about Fukushima radiation levels and to explain the meaning and potential impact of these levels,” he added, “particularly in the context of the natural radiation background(*) we are exposed to in our daily lives.”

Several institutions—Moss Landing Marine Laboratory (California State University), Marine Science Institute (UC Santa Barbara), Coastal and Marine Institute (San Diego State University) and CSULB—have volunteered to serve as regional processing centers where needed. Also participating are marine scientists from the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California in Baja Norte Mexico.

“At the present time this entire initiative is unfunded by any state or federal agency, with time and costs being ‘donated’ by the participants,” Manley said. “I hope that this changes. USC Sea Grant funded an earlier related study of mine and I hope it or some other funding agency will help fund this more extensive project.

“Still, more participants are signing up weekly,” he concluded. “We encourage scientists, educational institutions and other interested organizations to participate in the collecting and/or processing.”

Those interested in taking part in the project can contact Manley at and should put “Kelp Watch 2014” in the subject line.
コノプロジェクトに参加したい場合は、件名を“Kelp Watch 2014”と明記して マンレー氏に連絡してください。

-CSULB News Release


What can the concerned citizens do?

We should watch and encourage this project to be able to stay as independent and transparent as possible throughout entire process, so that we can totally trust the results that will be published.

The interpretation of the results should be done by individual. We know that it is totally different by each expert. It's up to you how you assess the risk from the data.

【自然放射能と人工放射能 Natural radiation and man made radiation】

Our body can maintain the amount of K40 (potassium) consistently (for adults, it’s about 140 g, equivalent to 4000bq. Daily consumption is 3.3g) and do not accumulate in our body. On the other hand, our body system cannot maintain the amount of man made radiation like Cesium because it is very new to human’s history and the evolution process might have just started. It accumulates in your body, which causes not only cancer, but also heart disease, immunodeficiency and intellectual disability.

Natural radiation and man made radiation is both radioactive themselves, but their behaviors in our body are very different. Now you can understand the claim of some experts, “We regularly expose to K40, so you do not have to worry about Cesium as the amount is much lower than K40” is just a myth.

【Internal exposure and External exposure】

When you take radioactive materials (can be all γ,β,α radiation) in your body, you will expose to them focally and at close range constantly for a long time. This is much more dangerous and you will have much more chance to get cancer or other disease comparing to external exposure (mostly with γ radiation, sometime β radiation as well), which penetrate your body at longer range and its effect is limited.

至近距離から強力な放射線を集中的に一か所に受けるという点で、同じ実効で線量で比較すると内部被曝は外部被曝の600倍から1,000倍ほどの危険性 があると言われています。

The effective dose of internal exposure is 600-1000 times equivalent to external exposure. 

You should beware if you hear someone explaining the effect of internal exposure by comparing to the exposure from X-ray or flight.

Source  (Japanese)

Related article, data and assuring explanation by comparing to naturally occuring radiation.

New Fukushima Radiation Study Will Focus on West Coast Kelp Forests

(FYI: 1pCi = 0.037bq)

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