My Travel Collection of Japanese Seaweeds – An Overview with 10 minute CPM averages

DISCLAIMER - Nagano City, Japan – November 29, 2013 – DISCLAIMER

—– JAPAN SEAWEED RADIATION TESTS, SEE BELOW —–

Normal Background Radiation is currently around 0.081 µSv/hr, a natural low level.

Normal Background Radiation in Nagano City is currently around 0.081 µSv/hr, a natural low level.

Except for the truly amazing main Buddhist Temple (Zenkō-jiup the street, I haven’t been in much of a sight-seeing or exploratory mood. Yet checking on the possibility of radiation in food at supermarkets has turned into a bit of a habit….

I’m very sad that I continue to find significantly radioactive seaweeds in Japan… Interestingly, apart from seaweed, I’m luckily not finding anything else that really sticks out within seconds of measuring.  

{Added 1/19/2014:  My own Lab data are in, see the Summary @ http://wp.me/puwO9-2rz  }

Please do not jump to conclusions.  It requires expensive detailed scientific lab analysis to determine to exact cause of the elevated levels I observed and share about below.   Simply stating that “my heart goes out to those who may be affected by these findings” does not feel sufficient.  I am honesty horrified by my findings.  Just like in the fishing industry, there are a lot of very good people’s livelihoods on the line, as well as the health of tens of thousands of children at risk of being fed far too radioactive food.  No certainty until lab tests are done, but I suspect the criminally negligent nuclear industry has  managed to ruin much of northeastern Japan’s seaweed industry.  I hope I’m wrong.

Normally, one needs a 10 minute average to find out if there may  even be something abnormal going on, and even then it is said to be not all that common to detect foods that may be over the limit, as – at least from a nuclear engineering/physics point of view, the food standards are pretty reasonable and the permissible amounts are fairly low, low enough at least that I’m not supposed to find anything with my simple Geiger Counter.  

Supposedly exposure to the maximum levels only becomes problematic over the course of years, which is why the US FDA puts the “intervention level” at 1200 Bq/Kg of Cs-134 + Cs-137.  Food less contaminated than that is not considered a big deal, according to the nuclear-industry-controlled US government.   Depending on the food, the safety limit is generally 100 to 500 Bq/kg for Cesium-137, though.

So, the fact alone that I’m finding anything of significantly elevated radiation levels (which I define as “more than 50% above background“), I find reason for concern.  But the only way to find out if these findings are actually truly cause for concern requires expensive lab testing.  

The last several blogpost have touched on the issue as well (browse back).

First, let me quote some more experts again on why a Geiger Counters, like the MedCom Inspector Alert I used for the tests below (here’s its manual), aren’t normally what you’d use to detect radiation in food with:

  • Katayama, PhD. in analytical chemistry from Hokkaido University, stated back in 2011: “Just pointing a measuring device at your food before dinner is pretty much meaningless.” (Source: Bloomberg April 13, 2011)
  • Japan’s (former) Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MEXT) 2011 manual advised against using Geiger-Muller devices, known as Geiger counters, for measurements in food and drinks because of their low sensitivity to gamma radiation, adding that, “a sample for emergency testing should be at least 5 kilograms (11 pounds) or 5 liters (1.3 gallons).” (Source: also in same Bloomberg April 13, 2011 article)
  • Arnie Gunderson & Co point out on their Fairwinds FAQ page: “Geiger counters cannot test food for radioactivity; that is to say, you’re not going to get an accurate reading unless you buy one in the $5,000-$12,000 price range. To put it in simple terms, normal geiger counters cannot detect radiation in food because it is shielded by the meat of the food itself.  Geiger counters also cannot identify what element is causing a high reading. [...]”    (Note: A MedCom Inspector Alert currently ships from Amazon.com for $640.86.  Just saying.)
  • Radiation Safety Engineering, Inc. (here), a consulting firm located near Phoenix, Arizona, includes the following in Nuclear Nonsense (pdf.): “All kinds of wild claims are now appearing on various web sites. Let’s review some of them… [...] 4. Buy our Survey Meter to Make Sure your Food and Water are Safe.  Don’t. The limits for food and water are published by the FDA. The link to the limits are on the front page and they are summarized here:

    FDA intervention levels, which handheld Geiger Counters are supposedly not sensitive to even pick up on...  At least that's what most nuclear engineers seem to agree on.

    FDA intervention levels, which handheld Geiger Counters are supposedly not sensitive to even pick up on… At least that’s what most nuclear engineers seem to agree on.

RadSafe.com explains the above shown FDA column: “The limits [1200 Bq/kg of radioCesium...] are very low, well below the threshold of detection for most geiger counters. For bulk food shipments from Japan that were contaminated at the levels listed above, the number of kilograms in the shipment were sometimes large enough to trigger the more sensitive survey meters. But these instances are rare. Overall, the hand held meters lack the sensitivity to detect  radioactivity at the FDA limits. We sell Ludlum Geiger counters and they are great! But don’t think they have the sensitivity to tell you your food and water are below the FDA limits.” [On a sidenote, RadSafe's #5 in that list can easily be debunked: see here].

  • John Iovine, a well-known designer, producer, and seller of Geiger counters ( w/ Images Scientific Instruments),  was interviewed by MAKE magazine’s Paul Spinrad.  On the matter of using a Geiger Counter for water or food testing he commented the following (my emphasis): “[...]  …here’s what I have heard.  Say you want to check some rainwater. Collect a barrel of rainwater, put your probe as close as you possibly can to that water, and start counting pulses per minute. If it’s above your established baseline background radiation, you have a situation which you’ll want to have checked further by experts.  I have heard that this procedure will work whether you’re checking water, soil, tuna fish, or whatever else.  The key is that  you usually need a large quantity of whatever you’re testing.  People watch CSI on television and think that you can derive all this information from these microscopic pieces of material, but you shouldn’t be testing 10 cc’s of water to check it for radioactivity. You’ll need more like 10 or 20 gallons, all accumulated in one spot. You’re not gonna find higher radiation levels in 10 cc’s of water, or if you do see it, oh my god, you’ve got a major problem. And it’s the same thing with food. [...]

I hope I’ve made it clear that my Geiger Counter is essentially useless to detect radiation in food within minutes for packages of just 30 to 100 grams, ’cause it isn’t sensitive enough.  Or, simply put: when my Geiger Counter DOES actually detect significantly elevated levels, that IS indicative of massive contamination.   So, if I may…:

Just in case this hasn’t been reported yet:  I regret to inform you:  There appears to be a serious situation of nuclear contamination of food going on right now in Japan, warranting far more testing and test result transparency.  In my non-expert opinion, it appears much of Japan’s seaweed, from the previously pristine coastlines of Hokkaido and elsewhere, may be unfit for human consumption.  Given the opinions about what Geiger Counters can and cannot detect (see above), please consider my test results (see below), and act as needed.

I’m a tourist with a limited budget.  I do not have access to expensive radionuclide analysis equipment.  Here’s the “lab set-up” I used for the measurements (I’m not trying to be funny):

If you're one of those types like me, who can find "something wrong" with anything, click the image to be directed to my DISCLAIMER.  Tx.

If you’re one of those types like me, who can find “something wrong” with just about anything, click the image to be directed to my DISCLAIMER page.  Thank you.   (Intelligent comments are welcome.)

Background radiation of “my lab” for tonight: a break from hostels and capsules, this sqeeky-clean hotel’s bed.  Natural background radiation: 38.5 CPM 10 minute average.  (During 10 minutes 385 ‘Counts’ of radiation struck the Geiger Counter tube (sensor)).  According to the government monitoring, this might roughly translate to 0.081 µSv/hr, although local environmental factors (small amounts of fallout dust, building materials, and natural radon gas build-up, which is common in most mountainous regions) could contribute to some differences.  Observing the dose rate throughout the evening, without seaweed near it, it fluctuated from as low as 0.031 µSv/hr (a rare once even 0.023 µSv/hr), and appeared to hang around the 0.077 µSv/hr a lot, but could also spike as high as 0.197 µSv/hr (a rare once even 0.211 µSv/hr).

I’ve tested dozens of types of food, including various mushrooms and fish, and have only detected the very obvious elevated levels with seaweeds thus far.

Apart from Seaweed, my Geiger Counter indeed does not seem capable to detect anything abnormal.  From veggies to mushrooms, to all kinds of fish, etc... All appear within normal levels.  (WHich doesn't mean they're devoid of radionuclides, just means not enough for my Geiger Counter to be able to tell).  All Photos by © Michaël Van Broekhoven, 2013

Apart from Seaweed, my Geiger Counter indeed does not seem capable to detect anything abnormal. From veggies to mushrooms, to all kinds of fish, etc… All appear within normal levels. (Which doesn’t mean they’re devoid of radionuclides, just means not enough for my Geiger Counter to be able to tell). All Photos by © Michaël Van Broekhoven, 2013  I don’t even bother taking a 10 minute reading unless I see it jump to at least 0.200 µSv/hr (about double the average normal for this location – VERY location-specific!) within less than 30 seconds.

All 10 minute average CPM tests were performed in the past 24 hours in the same location & set-up.  All I can say is:  There’s a serious issue with radiation in seaweed in Japan.  You can’t accuse me of making this up.  I’ve spent a serious amount of time independently researching this issue, as well as money to do what the Japanese government ought to be doing.  Here’s my pile of seaweeds to be tested tonite (1 of each shown):

12 different packages of seaweed, with varying levels of contamination, the lowest testing x % above background, the highest tested % above background.  See test results below.  Click image to watch an informative video about radionuclides.

12 different packages of seaweed, with varying levels of contamination, the lowest testing about 40 % above background, the highest tested just over 400% above background (!).  On the pillow rests the Geiger Counter, showing a value in the normal background radiation fluctuation range.  Even at such short distance, it is far enough to not be affected by the contaminated seaweeds.  See test results below.  Click image to watch an informative video about radionuclides.  All photos by © Michaël Van Broekhoven, 2013.

 These tests (below) are preliminary and rudimentary, but I share these results with you to give an idea of what are obviously elevated levels of radioactive contamination, which unfortunately can be found very easily throughout much of Japan.   I present the following for these 12 store-bought packages of seaweed (bought in Iwaki, Kyoto, Nara or Nagano), :

  • A photo of the package with a dose reading (it fluctuates all the time, but I’m picking ‘a snapshot in time’ when the Geiger Counter showed a value in the observed range, in the middle to high end of its fluctuation); with that I share the result measuring for 10 minutes, providing a simple and standard
  • 10 minute CPM average.  These CPMs are for the Geiger Counter simply lightly laying on top of the package.  Some packages have more of an air buffer than others.  Pressing the seaweed towards the Geiger Counter will often show slightly higher values (See my Dose Deception blogpost why that is so).

Please keep in mind that packages with the same label may not necessarily be as badly contaminated, but the fact that the one shown tested is, increases the likelihood that seaweed from the same harvest area may be similarly affected by TEPCO’s Fukushima-Daiichi leaking nuclear disaster site.  More tests and especially lab tests that could identify the radioisotopes are needed to better understand the extent of the deceptive nuclear industry’s environmental destruction.  Also important: The 10 minute average in CPM (Counts Per Minute) test result should be considered much more indicative of contamination level of tested sample than the µSv/hr (microsievert per hour) dose rate shown in the photo.   See my Radiation Units page for details on the various units.

TESTS with RESULTS:

  • Test 1 – Kelp from Hokkaido – In some cases, if reflection made it hard to read the label, I’ll insert details to make the package identifiable.  [Note: in this case, some packages from the same distributor (? - in different colors, and shown on an origins map to be from other parts of the same Hokkaido coast) measured significantly less contaminated, although still well above background levels as well.] 

80.9 CPM  (809 Counts in 10 minutes)

High Quality Kelp from Hokkaido...

High Quality Kelp from Hokkaido…  110% above background radiation

  • Test 2 – Kelp from Hokkaido

123.0 CPM   (1230 Counts in 10 minutes)

High Quality Kelp from Hokkaido...

High Quality Kelp from Hokkaido…  219 % above background radiation

194.1 CPM (1941 Counts in 10 minutes)

Kelp from Hokkaido...

Kelp from Hokkaido…  A whopping extreme 404 % above background radiation…

  • Test 4  - One of the only packages of Nori seaweed that showed an obvious elevated level, although significantly less than the Kelps.  F0r some reason most Nori seems much less affected by TEPCO’s radioactive Pacific Ocean contamination:

54.1 CPM (595  Counts in 11 minutes (…sometimes I didn’t catch the convenient 10 minute mark in time and had to use a calculator to get the CPM right…)

Nori Seaweed, not sure where from, sold by a common grocery chain.

Nori Seaweed, not sure where from, sold by a common grocery chain.  About 40% above normal local background radiation

  • Test 5  - This small pack of Nori also showed “only a slightly elevated level”.  I bought it as I’m curious what such a seemingly minute heightened level might translate into as far as actual amount of radionuclides.  To actually find out, I would have to send this one to a lab for radioisotopeanalysis (when I get to it, so short-lived isotopes like I-131 may fall to the wayside if they’re part of these shown levels.  Never know, there’s evidence fission criticalities still occured even this Summer 2013):

59.7 CPM (777 Counts in 13 minutes)

test5

A Nori, testing 55% above background radiation.  Most Nori luckily tested even lower..

  • Test 6 - Not sure what the name for this type of seaweed is.  It clearly measured higher.  It also happens, again, to be from Hokkaido.  Because it is packaged so fluffy/airy, and contains only 26 grams per package.

113.1 CPM (1131 Counts in 10 minutes)

above background

Also from Hokkaido…  194 % above background

  • Test 7 – This Kelp was bought in Nagano at a downtown grocery chain with a nice selection of all kinds of seaweeds, the majority showed at least some elevated radioactive content.  Not sure where this one is from (got two).  I picked a couple of the ones that showed undeniable heightened levels, like this one:

105.2 CPM (1157 Counts in 11 minutes)

Some kind of Kelp again not sure where from.

Some kind of Kelp again not sure where from.  173% above background

  • Test 8 - Kelp.  (3 very flat small packages, each 30 g dry weight), as in the cases above and below, measured as shown:

112.1 CPM (1121 Counts in 10 minutes)

More Hokkaido Kelp...

More Hokkaido Kelp…  This one 191 % above background radiation…

  • Test 9 – Kelp, due to its shape, most of the kelp is centimeters away; yet a high reading was obvious nonetheless:

122.6 CPM (1226 Counts in 10 minutes)

Harder to measure due to its non-flat shapes. Not sure where it's from.  218% above background...

Harder to measure due to its non-flat shapes. Not sure where it’s from. 218% above background…

  • Test 10 – Hokkaido Kelp (2 packages):

86.4 CPM (1037 Counts in 12 minutes)

More Hokkaido yumminess ruined by the criminally negligent nuclear industry...

More Hokkaido yumminess ruined by the criminally negligent nuclear industry…   124% above background…

  • Test 11 - Kelp, again due to its shape, most of the kelp is centimeters away; yet a high reading was obvious nonetheless. (2 packages)  Also from Hokkaido, even shows its general location on a map on the package:

88.2 CPM (970 Counts in 11 minutes)

test11

129 % above background radiation, as observed during just 10 minutes of measuring…

  • Test 12 - more Kelp (2 packages) – not sure yet where this one’s from.

93.8 CPM (1220 Counts in 13 minutes)

above background

About 144% above background radiation…

  • Bonus Test 13 – The banana test!  (So tired of nuclear industry propaganda…)
Yes, bananasa contain a little bit of naturally ocurring radiation, but NOTHING compared to what the nuclear industry is wrecking the biosphere with.

Yes, bananasa contain a little bit of naturally ocurring radiation, but NOTHING compared to what the nuclear industry is wrecking the biosphere with.

It’s “high content of radioactive Potassium-40” sure looks a lot like background radiation to me when compared to the above shown seaweeds.   I even peeled it and thus had it closer to the sensor than most seaweed packages:  969 Counts in 25 minutes = 38.8 CPM.  A difference of 0.3 CPM (0.77%) with the 10-minute average CPM of 38.5 is less than 1% difference, entirely within a margin of error that’s likely greater than 1%.  In other words, those folks at Forbes and other nuclear propagandists with your banana talk, stick it in your ear, it might help to stop listening to the liers you rely on for “news”.

–> Some background that may help pop the disinformations, check this video presentation Steven Starr, Director of the Clinical Laboratory Science Program, University of Missouri & Associate member of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation; who’s been published by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. 

Ocean Currents may explain the reason why so many seaweeds from the Hokkaido coast measure obviously significantly higher than I expected.  To repost an annotated screenshot of the ocean contamination simulation, show in the previous blogpost (Hokkaido Seaweed, how contaminated is it really?, which is what prompted me to spent my evening doing these tests and writing this blog post):

Click to watch

Click to watch

Again, I’m not an expert, but I consider this troubling findings…   I hope sharing this is somehow helpful, if nothing else: that academics and laymen alike start conducting more rigorous lab tests, so we can all get a clear idea whether or not these foods pose a long-term threat, or not.   I suspect that many of these seaweeds contain above the maximum allowable levels for radionuclides, based solely on what is said about the sensitivity of my Geiger Counter.  If that assumption is correct, then the fact that much of the large island of Hokkaido is literally over 200 miles away from the leaking Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Disaster Site… to me this also indicates that serious concerns about effects very far away, even as far as the West Coast of North America are likely.  Widespread and frequent monitoring is called for.

Some food items from specific contaminated locations may have to be avoided when confirmed by truthful independent investigators.  Financial compensation, counseling and other psychological support efforts, as well as emergency job re-training assistance and solidarity programs for the affected people and businesses ought to be part of a comprehensive response to this ongoing nuclear crisis.

I encourage people to not jump to conclusions about the products I tested, but to insist on additional testing by agencies whose job it is to do this.

If you know any lab results of seaweeds tested in late 2013 for radioisotope content, especially of similar seaweeds from the same areas of Japan’s northeastern coast, please leave a comment with a link.  I’m curious as to what has been published on this issue so far.  

{Added 1/19/2014:  My own Lab data are in, see the Summary @ http://wp.me/puwO9-2rz  }

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to My Travel Collection of Japanese Seaweeds – An Overview with 10 minute CPM averages

  1. Pingback: Hokkaido Seaweed, how contaminated is it really? | Not all alleged is apparent…

  2. debes2557 says:

    Thank you for your important observations and reports! Stay safe and well! God help us all.

  3. Mark Roman says:

    With all the current focus on reactor #4, it seems there is little or no attention being paid to reactors 1-3. What is the plan, if there is any, to deal with them?

  4. Please find information about ALARA-PROJECT related to radiation issues and dedicated for general public: http://www.alara.pelczar.com.pl/F0_EN.html

    The technical specification of the test instrument used in ALAR-PROJECT is available on net at:
    http://www.pelczar.com.pl/PT01109-Desktop-Geiger-Muller-Radiation-Indicator.pdf

  5. Pingback: Allegedly Apparent ‘Blog Statistics 2013′ – 70,000 Views again: Some Highlights | Not All Alleged Is Apparent…

  6. Pingback: Could (natural, normal) radioactive Potassium-40 (K-40) be the main cause of elevated radiation levels in food? | Not All Alleged Is Apparent…

  7. Pingback: According to Japanese Lab tests, Japanese seaweeds are perfectly safe. | Not All Alleged Is Apparent…

  8. Pingback: Independent LAB TEST RESULTS: RadioIsotope Analysis of Hokkaido Kelp and other Samples – (Store-sampled in Japan Nov-Dec 2013) | Not All Alleged Is Apparent…

  9. Pingback: Case in Point: Some more Blog Traffic Data examples… | Not All Alleged Is Apparent…

Thank you for commenting. Your comment won't show until approved. Sometimes that can take awhile. - mvb

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s