Tuesday, April 3, 2012

No Safe Level for RADIATION IN FOOD/WATER-Physicians for Social Responsibility

Washington, DC - March 23, 2011 – Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) expressed concern over recent reports that radioactivity from the ongoing Fukushima accident is present in the Japanese food supply. While all food contains radionuclides, whether from natural sources, nuclear testing or otherwise, the increased levels found in Japanese spinach and milk pose health risks to the population. PSR also expressed alarm over the level of misinformation circulating in press reports about the degree to which radiation exposure can be considered “safe.”

According to the National Academy of Sciences, there are no safe doses of radiation. Decades of research show clearly that any dose of radiation increases an individual’s risk for the development of cancer.

“There is no safe level of radionuclide exposure, whether from food, water or other sources. Period,” said Jeff Patterson, DO, immediate past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “Exposure to radionuclides, such as iodine-131 and cesium-137, increases the incidence of cancer. For this reason, every effort must be taken to minimize the radionuclide content in food and water.”

“Consuming food containing radionuclides is particularly dangerous. If an individual ingests or inhales a radioactive particle, it continues to irradiate the body as long as it remains radioactive and stays in the body,”said Alan H. Lockwood, MD, a member of the Board of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

“The Japanese government should ban the sale of foods that contain radioactivity levels above pre-disaster levels and continue to monitor food and water broadly in the area. In addition, the FDA and EPA must enforce existing regulations and guidelines that address radionuclide content in our food supply here at home.”

. “So it is particularly dangerous when they consume radioactive food or water.”

All food contains some radioactivity as a result of natural sources, but also from prior above-ground nuclear testing, the Chernobyl accident, and releases from nuclear reactors and from weapons facilities. The factors that will affect the radioactivityin food after the Fukushima accident are complicated. These include the radionuclides that the nuclear reactor emits, weather patterns that control the wind direction and where the radionuclides are deposited, characteristics of the soil (e.g., clays bind nuclides, sand does not) and the nature of the food(leafy plants like spinach are more likely to be contaminated than other plants like rice that have husks, etc.).However, radiation can be concentrated many times in the food chain and any consumption adds to the cumulative risk of cancer and other diseases.


Founded in 1961 by physicians concerned about the impact of nuclear proliferation, PSR shared the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize with International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War for building public pressure to end the nuclear arms race. Since 1991, when PSR formally expanded its work by creating its environment and health program, PSR has addressed the issues of global warming and the toxic degradation of our environment. PSR educates and advocates for policies to curb global warming, ensure clean air, generate a sustainable energy future, prevent human exposures to toxic substances, and minimize toxic pollution of air, food, and drinking water. More information is available at www.psr.org.

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