Adapted from Beyond Nuclear, fellow coalition member of the Fukushima Fallout Awareness Network
Citizens for Health, along with the other coalition members of Fukushima Fallout Awareness Network (FFAN Homepage, FFAN on facebook), filed a petition with the FDA to drastically reduce the amount of radioactive cesium permitted in food, from a ridiculous 1200 Bq/kg to 5 Bq/kg (see why here, read why here). The Bq (Becquerel) is a measure of radioactivity. The FDA is now accepting comments on our petition and every person’s voice counts, so leave a comment in support here!
Our petition asks for a binding limit of 5 Bq/kg of cesium 134 & 137 combined in food, nutritional supplements, and pharmaceuticals. This is necessary because of continuing exposure to radiation in the wake of the ongoing catastrophe at Fukushima, where reactors are still releasing radioactivity, along with atomic bomb testing and routine releases from nuclear power plants. We also ask that testing be widespread and, when technologically feasible, measurements below 5 Bq/kg be taken. Through this effort we would like a database of contamination levels to be established and maintained, with information relevant to researchers, so that movement of the cesium radionuclide in our environment can be tracked since it tends to biomagnify once released.
The current US FDA recommendation – which is not a binding law – for cesium 134 & 137 radioactivity in food is twelve times higher than the limit in Japan. Curious and deserving concern, the Japanese standards before Fukushima were significantly more stringent. Before Fukushima, nuclear waste material above 100 Bq/kg was required to be monitored and disposed of in specialized containers. The new (after Fukushima) limit for debris in the “wide area incineration” program is 240 to 480 Bq/kg. Today, Japan limits the cesium 134 & 137 radioactive contamination in food to 100 Bq/kg and the US FDA recommends that cesium 134 & 137 radioactive contamination in food be kept below 1,200 Bq/kg.
In post-Chernobyl Belaurs studies, reutersbandazhevsky-1, it appears that just 11 Bq/kg of internal cesium contamination can make children suscepitble to heart problems. At 50 Bq/kg, children can start to have permanent tissue damage.
Additionally, in a 2011 report, IPPNW 2011 Report, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), Germany, has determined that the European Union cesium limit of 370 Bq/kg for babies and 600 for adults is woefully unprotective. Such high limits for cesium could be responsible, in combination with other man-made radioactivity such as strontium-90, plutonium-239, and iodine-131 (cesium-137 is a sentinel indicator for the presence of these other isotopes and often does not exist without them), for roughly 150,000 additional cancer deaths in Germany alone if people consume only products contaminated to the maximum permissible limit. This number does not account for incidence of cancer nor any other wide-ranging diseases or genetic disorders radiation could cause.
The highest limit in Europe is half of the 1200 Bq/kg of cesium that the FDA recommends as its action limit. We should note, however, that the US recommendation comports very closely with the 1250 Bq/kg limit for most foodstuffs proposed by EURATOM (European Atomic Energy Community), the body of the EU that promotes nuclear power.
The IPPNW report recommends a 4 Bq/kg limit of cesium-137 and a 4 Bq/kg limit of cesium-134 for children, limits very similar to the 5 Bq/kg we are asking the FDA to implement for everyone. CFH believes it is impractical for the US to have one standard for adults and one for children – it would be difficult to regulate & add to the cost of implementation, so the standard should suit the most vulnerable. The IPPNW report recognizes this fact.
FFAN coalition members, including CFH, will be spearheading public participation initiatives in support of this FDA petition, adding more supporting material through petition addendums, and help educate the public, the FDA, and Congress on the issues. Stay tuned for upcoming updates and Action Alerts!
Sign (add your support through a comment) the Citizen Petition to the FDA here.
Make your voice resonate by signing this petition, Say Bye Bye to Becquerels! as well, which FFAN has created for the general public.