Post-Fukushima Atomic Surfing? Will I Gulp and Glow?

Surfer
Photo credit: Erik Simmons
Q:

I surf regularly along the northern Oregon coast. In light of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, has any recent / regular testing been completed to see if the water is safe to surf in? Some of us are out there for extended periods of time and may even accidentally gulp down some seawater during wipeouts. A lot of conversation and articles I have read seem to focus on bio-accumulation issues for seafood consumers. It would be good to get information out to the surfing community. 

- Tillamook County, Oregon
A:

There has been so much conflicting information about radiation; it makes sense to wonder if the radiation from Fukushima is problem in our ocean waters or seafood here in Oregon. At this time, you should not be concerned surfing or eating tuna. Radiation breaks down in the water and is diluted, so while the waters directly near Fukushima are of concern, radiation experts are not worried about the West Coast.

The state of Oregon has been testing Oregon ocean waters since 2011, and they have all showed “normal” levels of radiation. There is quite a bit of radiation in the environment already. Even the trace amounts of radiation found in tuna are so low, that you would have to eat thousands of pounds to raise your internal radiation levels.

Jamie Doyle
Assistant Professor Marine Resources
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