Radioactive Seaweed also Sold Outside Fukushima Prefecture in Japan.

DISCLAIMER  –  Kyoto, Japan – November 21, 2013

[Important note, added 1/21/2014:  My assumption that the elevated radioactivity was from contamination was proven wrong.  See my lab data @  ]

Example of slightly radioactive seaweed, found for sale in Kyoto, Japan.  Photo: Noveber 20, 2013 by © Michaël Van Broekhoven, 2013.

Example of slightly radioactive seaweed, found for sale in Kyoto, Japan. Photo: November 20, 2013 by © Michaël Van Broekhoven, 2013.

In my previous blogpost (re. my Visit to the Fukushima Prefecture), I pointed out that very obviously radioactive food was for sale in Iwaki. [!!!–> Added:  I have added an important nuance to that report, which applies to this blogpost as well!] In my next blogpost, The Dose Deception – Why 0.20 µSv/hr (from fallout) can be far more dangerous than 2.00 µSv/hr (from cosmic rays). The inverse square law for ionizing radiation illustrated., I point out why that is a bigger deal than one could easily assume when comparing to higher dose rates from X-rays, airplanes, etc.

Kyoto, Japan – Monday November 25, 2013 — Shortlink:

I’ve been checking various grocery stores since.  After a dozen stores, I came across one with a nice wide selection of seaweeds and found about 80% to be fine at first sight, except for some seaweeds which had also very obviously elevated radiation levels, from 0.3 to 0.5 µSv/hr through the packaging, compared to a background of around 0.060 µSv/hr (up to 0.2 µSv/hr max), so clearly containing enough to be detected by a Geiger Counter.

Being in a foreign country, is it impolite to point out that there’s something wrong with some of the food for sale?  If it was merely a matter of taste, I’d say so; I wouldn’t say anything, but I’m really sorry, I think it’s far more ‘impolite’ to tell people “all is well” and “the food is safe”, when in all actuality, some food items here in Japan are obviously packed with radioactive materials, which when consumed regularly (as many are obviously doing unintentionally…) is bound to cause numerous cancers in the coming decades IF LAB RESULTS CONFIRM THAT THE RADIOACTIVITY IS FROM MAN-MADE RADIOISOTOPES and not from naturally ocurring ones like K-40, which poses little or no risk.  Lab results showed the elevated radioactivity was from natural Potassium-40, not a health hazard !!! (see Important note at beginning of blogpost.

Same can be said about some European food (Example: Blueberry Jam from Poland with 220 Bq/kg of Radioactive Cesium, 26 Years After Chernobyl), where food monitoring has been far from ideal as well.  This has resulted in massive widespread suffering:  Studies done (period April 1986 to the end of 2004) with little control by the nuclear industry have estimated the Chernobyl death toll at about 985,000, Mostly from Cancer.  The more nuclear industry meddling, the lower the health effect estimates.  If you go with the propaganda the WHO pushes, keep in mind they have to run everything by the IAEA,  which has WHO-VETO POWER, and that the IAEA is the nuclear power PROMOTING wing of the UN, as much an “oversight agency” as TEPCO’s board of directors for that matter.

From observing the Geiger Counter over long periods in various situations, I’m familiar with the fluctuations.  And in Kyoto I saw that it can go from as low as 0.025 µSv/hr all the way to 0.199 µSv/hr naturally.

And here and there, such as by rain pipes and in non-draining flower beds, and such, I’ve noticed slightly elevated levels, up to 0.4 µSv/hr at ground level, indicating some heightened level of radioactivity, quite possibly from fallout in a few rainout events as well.  My impression:  All in all, most of Japan is like most of Europe: relatively safe, except for the hotspots, and of course except for prolonged exposure to fallout (mainly through dust or from food).

Re. those hotspots, see also my Fukushima versus Chernobyl fallout map comparison to see how many areas are truly very seriously contaminated; and the Fallout Maps for the United States for suggestive evidence that Fukushima may even have caused localized hotspots in North America, although as of posting they have not been identified as far as I know.)

I’ve put my Geiger counter on food all over, and almost always it simply stays within the normal range.  That doesn’t mean it’s 100% safe.  I’m told Geiger Counters simply aren’t sensitive enough to tell.  Except when it’s really bad, and I’ve noticed elevated levels that appear to be bad.  But, as always with this, it requires lab tests to determine the amounts of all the radioactive isotopes, so some caution about coming to conclusions remains called for.

Take bananas.  Yes, very high in potassium (K), including some radioactive K-40, yet nothing a Geiger Counter picks up on that quickly:


No immediately noticeably  difference with the normal background radiation range.

Various types of common foods, vegetables, tofu, fish, even mushrooms, none caused a significant rise in detected radiation:


No difference with the normal background radiation range.

But for seaweed, and this is a store in Kyoto (Kansai region), central Japan, IT REALLY DEPENDS.  About 80 % tested was the same as for other foods: either not radioactive, or not signifcantly enough to show up on the Geiger Counter during a quick testing.   Here’s a rack with various seaweeds (Geiger Counter leaning against a pack that didn’t show an obvious elevated level):

Many seaweeds appear to be safe.

Many seaweeds appear to be safe. No difference with the normal background radiation range.

But then there were others that caused the measurements to come into a significantly elevated radiation range, not dipping under 0.3 and going as high as just over 0.5.  Another example:


Some seaweeds are clearly not as safe… with have very obvious elevated radioactive contents

No one spoke English in the store and I wasn’t able to explain, so I bought what tested the highest.  (aka “Supporting the Japanese economy and presumably keeping nuclear waste high-potassium nutritious food from being eaten by Kyoto residents.”)

A bag of radioactive groceries, bought in Kyoto, Japan (only various seaweeds):

Several packages of various seaweeds that showed elevated radiation levels.  Bought in Kyoto Japan on November 20, 2013. Photos by © Michaël Van Broekhoven, 2013.  All RIghts Reserved.

Several packages of various seaweeds that showed elevated radiation levels, together in grocery bag.  Fluctuated between 0.35 and 0.55 µSv/hr.   Bought in Kyoto, Japan on November 20, 2013.     Photos by © Michaël Van Broekhoven, 2013. All Rights Reserved.

Conclusion:  1) It’s not true that ordinary Geiger Counters are useless to detect radioactive particles in food.  If the contamination is levels are significant extreme enough, which apparently they are sometimes, they are useful.   2) A significant percentage of seaweed for sale in several places in Japan appears unfit for consumption, assuming the elevated radiation levels are caused by dangerous man-made bioaccumulated radioactive particles.  3) The same assumption would lead one to believe that the guarantees by the Japanese government that there’s no reason for concern appears to be utter bullshit.  Yet the assumption falls apart upon closer scrutiny.  See my lab results.

This all in my non-expert opinion, that is.  It requires lab tests to settle this mystery. Read my DISCLAIMER.

PS:  I’m not particularly reporting something new.  Greenpeace, ENEnews, and others (like this one on YouTube in Korea) have reported on measureably radioactive seaweeds before.  I’m only pointing out it has apparently or seemingly not been addressed adequately yet; monitoring by the Japanese government may be lacking (And if that’s proven to be the case, they are complicit in endangering the health of its citizens and visitors), and this (perceived) problem appears more widespread than I expected.

Final thought:


[Last updated: January 8, 2014: small edits to add nuance and more room for the possibility that these elevated radiation levels may be entirely natural.  Only detailed lab tests can settle this.]

!!!!!!  —->   Added 1/19/2014:  MUST SEE:  My own Lab data are in, see the Summary @  }

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