What is Causing the Ecological Upheavel in the Pacific Ocean?

DSCN9441It *could*, of course, be “just climate change”, but the many reports, from dying sea stars to beaching whales, and jelly fish – filled beaches, sea lions, etc., has more and more people wondering if there’s more to these mass die-offs in the Pacific Ocean.

Unknown consequences of trace amounts of radioactive fallout from Fukushima’s ongoing air and water contamination cannot be ruled out.   In that vein, I pose a question, see further below in purple.

I have been skeptical of Fukushima as a likely culprit, but simply don’t know.  (I last went swimming in the Pacific north of San Francisco last autumn).   Now, I do think the mystery of what’s driving these ecological disturbances is worth more questions and a lot more research. 

I posted a question, shown further below, at ENEnews @  (May 17, 2015), “Guardian: Pacific Ocean “turning into a desert” off California — Experts: Entire generation of baby sea lions is dying; It’s incredible, it’s so unusual and there’s no good explanation for it; Expect same thing to happen again next year — Carts filled with emaciated dead bodies (PHOTOS)“, on page 2 of that comment thread:

May 18, 2015 at 12:06 pm (Eastern Time)

Question: In regards to Fukushima-Daiichi, has the radioisotope Lead-209 been reported anywhere as part of the rubble, fallout or water contamination? Lead-209 (pb209) beta-decays into Bismuth-209 (bi209), which is more-the-less stable (although technically will decay into Thallium-205).

From http://education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele084.html :

“Polonium is usually produced by bombarding bismuth-209 with neutrons in a nuclear reactor. This forms bismuth-210, which has a half-life of 5 days. Bismuth-210 decays into polonium-210 through beta decay. Milligram amounts of polonium-210 have been produced by this method.

Polonium-210 is a very strong emitter of alpha particles. A single gram of polonium-210 creates 140 Watts of heat energy and is being considered as a lightweight heat source for thermoelectric power for spacecraft. Polonium-210 has a half-life of 138.39 days.”

Reason I ask is a lot of Cobalt-60 has been released from Fukushima too, most likely due to massive neutron bombardment of steel.  If there were pb209 present, there would be bi209 too, and possibly very large amounts of man-made Polonium-210 were created.

A brief surge of Po210 could do a lot of damage to sea life and it would be hard to proof. Are stranded Pacific sea life been tested for Lead-206? (the decay daughter of Po-210) ?

Just a shot at aiming to solve what is causing the ecological upheavel on the North American West Coast.


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Stupid question?   If so, please let me know why.  Comments welcome. 

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13 Responses to What is Causing the Ecological Upheavel in the Pacific Ocean?

  1. bo says:

    Bismuth blogpost from zukunashi san

    Here is an older post where he notes increase

    And this is his recent update where he notes flatlining

    I have NO IDEA what this means! Lol
    But thought interesting both bloggers mentioning bismuth
    Hope it translates ok !

    Good day!

  2. MVB says:

    interesting. Thank you!

  3. pavewayiv@gmail.com says:

    Your article got me thinking about polonium-210 and inspired this rant, Michael:

    Polonium-210 would be an insidious radionuclide in fish as you need an alpha spectrometer to measure it and you have to dry and compress the samples properly. The only qualitative testing I’ve seen on marine life has been with gamma spectrometers – zero ability to detect Po-210, and I assume as much for Po-218 and Po-214, both of which would also have powerful alpha and alpha recoil effects on chromosomes.

    Po-210 would have limited production through Pb-210 because of Pb-210’s 22 yr half-life would limit Po-210 production, but ‘higher’ in the radon chain you have Po-218 and Po-214 produced in fairly rapid succession and each having a powerful alpha decay. I would think Rn-222’s 4-day half-life and alpha decay is much more troubling because it produced both Po-218 and 214 in quick succession (minutes) potentially making a single Rn-222 atom three times as biologically destructive if three alphas are produced in minutes before you hit Pb-210.

  4. MVB says:

    drop a link to what got you thinking, perhaps next time. Yea…I wonder about that too. Wondering about it quite actively recently… More soon… – m

  5. pavewayiv@gmail.com says:

    The whole idea that these are radon daughters makes it hard to reconcile with Fukushima in any clear way. On the other hand, natural gas is loaded with radon daughters. We seem to be rather fond of burning tons of that, lately.

    Pb-210 would be the (relatively) long-term store in natural gas – any other earlier radon daughters would have decayed underground, in the pipes or storage. I’m trying to find a paper that describes it clumping up in little clusters of 10 or 20 lead atoms – nearly impossible to filter out of the gas before use. Burning the gas does nothing to affect radioactivity, so Pb-210 is spewed out into the atmosphere. Every atom of Pb-210 will eventually be an atom of Po-210. A lot of Pb-210 is airborne and can be inhaled. If we’re lucky, our body is able to eliminate it. If not, then some of it goes through the bismuth-210 -> polonium-210 -> lead 206 transition in our lungs. Lucky us.

    Don’t fish bioaccumulate heavy metals like lead as well? I could see scientists measuring minute quantities (say a nanogram) of Pb-210 in fish and conclude that it poses neither a poison nor radiological risk. Completely ignoring that every atom of Pb-210 will become a Po-210 atom, which is extremely radiotoxic.

  6. pavewayiv@gmail.com says:

    I’ll take that back. Looks like the little beasties like polonium better than lead. Plenty of other informative tidbits here:

  7. MVB says:

    Tx. Nice find!

  8. Pingback: Additional Ponderings Re. Pacific Ocean Ecological Crisis. Wondering about Effects of a speculated Fukushima-induced Polonium-210 (Alpha-emitting) surge’s on Sea Life. Iodine-13, Cobalt-60, Cesium-134 & Neobium-95 detected in Europe (May 2015!)

  9. Pingback: Additional Ponderings Re. Pacific Ocean Ecological Crisis. Wondering about Effects of a speculated Fukushima-induced Polonium-210 (Alpha-emitting) surge’s on Sea Life. Iodine-131, Cobalt-60, Cesium-134 & Neobium-95 detected in Europe (May 2015!)

  10. pavewayiv@gmail.com says:

    Well, we’re totally missing the best terrestrial bioaccumulator of Pb-210 and Po-210 known and extensively studied: tobacco. They did tons of studies on it for years, so we know what levels WERE before fukushima – at least in the U.S. This would be a far better sentinel indicator of environmental loads of Pb/Po than trying to measure impossibly minute quantities in air or soil.

    Apparently, the trichomes of the leaves have a non-water-soluble sticky substance that is particularly good at grabbing airborne particles, explaining how they remain on the leaves through the drying/curing process:

    I wonder if the Colorado herb growers know about that lead and polonium-grabbing property of their trichomes?

    Fukushima was a big tobacco-growing region for Japanese Tobacco. They cancelled a planned 4.5T purchase at the end of the 2012 growing season because of excessive cesium levels. They never mentioned (and probably never tested) for polonium – a much higher threat because of it’s higher activity and presence than cesium and requirement for measurement by the much less common alpha spectrometry. For that matter, tobacco leaves there should also be a good plutonium trap.

    All this is of interest because of what could potentially end up in our bodies. Among the many ways to determine that is by what is excreted. Interesting study of Po-210 in urine in a relatively uncontaminated area/population of Italy in 2009:

    Testing water purification plant sludge for alpha would still be tops in my book for a sentinel measure.

    $8K for a 4-unit alpha spectrometer on eBay: http://goo.gl/mq9ylf
    $20 – 50K for a full set-up. I would try crowdfunding a lab, but there’s only like thirty people that even understand why this would be important. I’ll have to try some alternative get-rich-quick scheme.

    Let me know if you stumble on the Lost Spanish Mine in the mean time, Michael. Two or three pounds of gold should be plenty for a decent little lab. That’s a chunk about the size of a roll of quarters. Ask the trees for help!

  11. MVB says:

    Excellent suggestion, pavewayiv!

    No extra cash on hand these days, though. Hoping I got enough to built a small home. Everything’s delayed due to the ongoing rains and such… ;-/ But equipment like that would be fun to have! Crowd-funding could still work. All you need is one very affluent and caring person who gets it.

    Once it gets warmer, I may be able to think about this better. Doing okay, but the ongoing wet and cold gives me a bit of “survival anxiety”. The trees here are so beautiful. Will go outside now and sit by one in the rain, for sanity’s sake. ;-)

  12. Pingback: The Gist of that Pondering | Not All Alleged Is Apparent…

  13. Pingback: Allegedly Apparent’s 2015 Blogging in Review | Allegedly Apparent Blog

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