Radioactive Cesium still being detected in US Milk (68% more than half year ago in SF Bay Area)

★ Boulder, Colorado, USA ★ Feb. 21, 2012  20:42 hrs ★ Standard Mountain Time ★

It may not amount to much in the big scheme of things (see further below), but a quick look at UC Berkeley’s radiation measurements,, shows that the level of Cesium-137 in milk still reaches levels above the EPA standard of 0.111 Bq/L  (Note: 1 Becquerel per Liter = 3 picoCurrie/Liter – for help with these, see my Radiation Units page).  Latest from UC Berkeley sample testing:

0.115 Bq/L of Cs-137 in Bay Area milk with 'Best By' date of Feb 16, 2012 is the highest seen since summer 2011. Combined with Cs-134 (see data below), the cesium contamination in the sampled milk reached 0.167 Bq/L last week. Data by UC Berkeley; EPA norm added to graph. Click for data SOURCE:

(Collage of 2 screen-shots of UCM data / earlier data not shown here - Click for full data set)

(The “MDA” is the Minimum Detectable Amount.)  In this data log for pasteurized homogenized Milk from the San Francisco Bay Area, you can see these Cesium radioisotope measurements for the sample with Best By date of 02/16/2012:

  • Cs-134: 0.052 Bq/L   ±0.011  [MDA=0.045]
  • Cs-137: 0.115 Bq/L   ±0.016  [MDA=0.053]

Total Cesium (Cs-134 & Cs-137 combined) in that milk sample thus was 0.167 Bq/L (= 4.52 pCi/L.  Conversion: 1 Becquerel (Bq) = 27.1 picoCurie (pCi),  thus 0.167 Bq/L = 4.52 pCi/L).  That’s about 68.7 % higher than the sample taken a half year ago, with Best By date August 22, 2011, when this type of Milk from the San Francisco Bay Area measured 0.047 Bq/L ±0.010  of Cs-134 [MDA=0.041] and 0.052 Bq/L ±0.013 of  Cs-137 [MDA=0.044]).

The EPA Maximum Contaminant Level for radioactive Cesium in milk is 3 pCi/L, or 0.111 Bq/L.  Milk that tests a whopping nearly 70% over this limit sounds pretty bad, but how serious is this, really?  How does it compare to the vastly different Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) norms, and how do those compare to the norms used elsewhere?

–> In a 4/14/2011 FORBES article, ‘Why Does FDA Tolerate More Radiation Than EPA?, Forbes Contributor Jeff McMahon long clarified the apparent relativity of this EPA Maximum Contaminant Level:

“Since the Environmental Protection Agency began detecting radiation in rainwater and milk at levels above its maximum contaminant level, government officials have been downplaying the importance of EPA’s maximum contaminant level.  They would much prefer us to speak in terms of the Food and Drug Administration’s “Derived Intervention Level.”

The two levels could hardly be more different:

  • EPA does not allow drinking water to contain more than 3 picoCuries per liter of radioactive istotopes like iodine-131 and cesium-137.  [3 pCi/L = 0.111 Bq/L]
  • FDA allows up to 4,700 picoCuries of iodine-131 in a liter of milk and up to 33,000 picoCuries of cesium-137.  [4,700 pCi/L = 174 Bq/L]

Officials from both agencies—as well as many state governments—explain the difference” […] Continue reading this article at its SOURCE. [added]

How do the European norms for radioactive contamination compare to the US FDA’s?

– Post-Chornobyl, but Pre-Fukushima, maximum Cs-137 + Cs-134 allowed for ALL food:

  • For food and feed: ………..  600 Bq/Kg  [EU]
  • For baby food and milk:    370 Bq/Kg  (for milk this is thus about 360 Bq/L) [EU]

–> NOTE that the US norms are (surprisingly I find) much stricter than the European norms:    Compare the old European norms above to the EPA norm for milk of 0.111 Bq/L (Clearly, as the EPA has tried to clarify, not exactly relevant for gauging food dangers).  Compare to FDA milk norm of 174 Bq/L.  

Post-Fukushima...   But then… Fukushima Daiichi NPP had multiple meltdowns and… by way of “Emergency Ordinance 297/2011“, the European limits changed for food imported from Japan.  VERY nice for the Japanese who would like to keep exporting food that shouldn’t be considered fit for consumption…

(By the way, the Japanese limit for all these is 500 Bq/kg [mentioned here]) New EU norms for food originating from Japan:

  • 400 Bq/Kg for infant formula
  • 1000 Bq/Kg of Cs-134 + Cs-137 in milk = a-okay for the EU if the milk comes from Japan… otherwise its still 360 Bq/L.  
  • 1250 Bq/Kg for other foods
  • 12,500 Bq/Kg for fish oil or spices…    [Source: (in Dutch)]


But it does seem to suggest that the recent radioisotope levels still being found in Bay Area milk are likely ‘insignificant’.  ‘Norms’ however do not have ANY bearing on the actual effects.

The nuclear industry and its propagandists (including Obama apparently) seem not to want that we remember Chornobyl’s haunting health effects; nor the massive nuclear waste that remains dangerous for many thousands of years, and they especially don’t want to have the actual health risks included in risk assessments, ’cause if any of that was taken seriously, the nuclear industry would become an embarrassing thing of the past rather quickly, remembered mainly for its deceptive propaganda.  A comprehensive study, ‘The Code Killers:  Why DNA and ionizing radiation are a dangerous mix – An expose of the nuclear industry‘  by Ace Hoffman (2008) [download e-book HERE], goes into the intricacies of all this in detail, if you’d like to arm yourself with more information.

To close this overview on milk contamination, I’ll end with quoting from THIS April 5, 2011 article from California Watch (Founded by the Center for Investigative Reporting), with a word on the “uncertainty” surrounding the topic:

[…] “Paul Carroll, a nuclear expert with Ploughshares Fund, a San-Francisco-based international nuclear security foundation, said the information on long-term chronic exposure and food chain effects is murky.

Scientists learned a lot from the bombs that dropped on Japan at the end of World War II, and from Chernobyl. But a lot of the questions we ask now about radiation exposure we didn’t know to ask back then. And long-term epidemiological studies on people can’t always give definitive answers to questions such as, “How much radiation causes cancer?” or “How long do you have to be exposed?”

The bottom line, he said, is that “any additional exposure to radiation will increase your risk of developing cancer.”

Here are some more fact sheets on food and radiation:

SOURCES consulted for this blog post:

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