Researchers at UC San Diego confirmed today that radiation from quake-and-tsunami-damaged Fukushima reactors reached Southern California.

Though other tests have determined that minuscule amounts of nuclear material reached our shores, this one was trumpeted by USCD as “the first quantitative measurement of the amount of radiation leaked from the damaged nuclear reactor in Fukushima, Japan, following the devastating earthquake and tsunami earlier this year.”

So was it enough to be worried about?


Although researchers “observed an unprecedented spike in the amount of radioactive sulfur in the air in La Jolla” off Scripps Pier 15 days after the early March quake, according to a UCSD statement, it was still not enough to make you glow, even a little.

Scripps Pier.

Scripps Pier.

Author of the research, Mark Thiemens:

… The absolute amount of radiation that reached California was small. The levels we recorded aren't a concern for human health. In fact, it took sensitive instruments, measuring radioactive decay for hours after lengthy collection of the particles, to precisely measure the amount of radiation.

How it happened ...; Credit: Gerardo Dominguez

How it happened …; Credit: Gerardo Dominguez

The discovery was published in today in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The lesson here? Researchers are getting good at tracking radiation from far-off places.


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