Thursday, July 28, 2011

Apples, Oranges & Lots of Bull

As alarm over the discovery of radiation-tainted beef from Fukushima sweeps Japan, some folks in Temple Valley are concerned that the city of Yokohama's move to suspend the use of beef in school lunches is more than just a precautionary measure. Consumers nationwide have been shocked to find out that contaminated meat from Fukushima had made it to supermarkets and butcher's cases across the country. 

A recent Japan Times article states that "eating 1 kg of the meat is roughly equal to a radiation dose of 82.65 microsieverts for a period during which radioactive cesium remains in one's body." The article's author then goes on to make a  now familiar comparison, observing that "the 82.65 microsieverts compares with the 100 microsieverts of radiation a person would be exposed to during a one-way flight from Tokyo to New York."

I wonder if that's how the cows got poisoned with radiation? Did they take too many excursions to New York over the last year? I don't think so. I'm no expert but the radioactive particles probably made it into the bovines' systems in the same way they likely enter the bodies of their human neighbors. They were either ingested (by eating contaminated food, etc.), or inhaled, where they can then become lodged in the body and potentially cause harm over time. So rather than akin to getting an an x-ray examination at the doctor's office, eating radioactive foodstuff is probably more like eating an x-ray machine, albeit a very tiny one, that is constantly turned on. All it takes is one tiny hot particle to  cause a human cell to mutate.  There is a world of difference between internal and external exposure. It's like comparing apples and oranges.

Metaphorically speaking apples and oranges may be different, people and cows maybe not so much (we're both mammals after all). That makes me wonder. If the cows have an unacceptable level of  radioactive poison in their bodies, what about the people living in the same vicinity? 

Related post: U.S. Beef Smells Fishy

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