With The BP Oil Spill & Radiation Exposure From Fukushima, Is Seafood Safe?

May 6, 2011

The BP oil spill in the gulf affected marine life not just with oil, but with chemical dispersants—over in the Pacific, radiation exposure reached local’s food, and may have an effect on marine life there as well—so, is seafood safe?

The Oil Spill In The Gulf

Seafood is again being harvested from the gulf, and although the government has done months of testing, it doesn’t rule out future problems. Oil plumes still in the gulf could come back around. Bottom dwellers are still at  high-risk for oil contamination. And scientists still don’t know the level of toxicity of Corexit, the dispersant added to the disaster.

Long term effects can also come into play, namely, smaller organisms that weren’t tested or that are high risk will eventually spread the contamination up the food chain, so the effects of the BP oil spill may last for decades.

How dangerous the contamination is is based on how much is eaten in proportion to the size and health of the person—and the tests were based on the national average for a grown man (4 shrimp a week—if you eat more seafood than this, are female, or are smaller, you should probably check the source of the seafood carefully).

Shrimp is one item on the high-risk list (all bottom-dwellers are high risk). Mussels and other filter-feeding shellfish may also be contaminated.

Fukushima Radiation Exposure

The risk of radiation exposure to seafood is a similar story.

In this case, experts and preliminary results suggest the ocean will disperse radiation, making any effect on seafood negligible.

On the other hand, radiation is still being dumped into the sea, and radiation exposure to seafood is a real risk. Mostly, small marine life (plankton) may be exposed, and over time will lead to contamination up the food-chain (iodine, what most people are concerned about, goes away quickly, while cesium, which can build up in muscle tissue, can last decades).

Update: Fish found in the gulf now seem to confirm that the oil is affecting (and may affect for decades) the health of the fish. Skin lesions and other easily visible problems are showing up, and the likely implication is that gulf fish will be off the menu for a long time.

Will you be eating seafood anytime soon?

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