Trace Levels Of Radiation Found In Seaweed Along Southern Calif. Coast

LONG BEACH (CBS) — Marine life along the California coast may have trace amounts of radiation resulting from last year’s nuclear disaster in Japan.

KNX 1070’s Ron Kilgore reports the findings come from a new study conducted by researchers at Long Beach State.

The study published this month in the scientific journal “Environmental Science and Technology” details the discovery of low levels of radioactive isotopes in seaweed found along the southern Pacific Coast.

Researchers at CSU Long Beach believe the radioactive forms of cesium and iodine blew across the Pacific in a series of storms that doused California shortly after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that resulted in Japan’s nuclear disaster.

Similar levels of the isotopes were also found in seaweed near U.C. Santa Barbara and U.C. Santa Cruz.

While mostly viewed by beachgoers as a nuisance, kelp serves multiple and vital functions in the ecosystem, according to Perry Hampton, vice president of animal husbandry at Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach.

“They provide habitat, in other words a place to live for lots and lots of different types of animals, and it also serves as a food source for some of them too,” said Hampton.

Although the amounts found are not believed to be harmful to humans, researchers believe fish who feed on kelp could be affected, but more research is still needed to make that determination.

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