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Is Your Spicy Tuna Roll Radioactive?

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Photo by Renee S. on Flickr
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You know that bluefin tuna that you love to chow down on at your favorite sushi bar? Apparently it's quite a swimmer. And it's carrying something extra special with it: radiation from Tokyo's exploded Fukishima Daishi power plant.

The massive fish carried remnants from the nuclear disaster all the way across the ocean to the shores of California, scientists reported Monday.

But don't get your knickers in a twist. The trace amounts of radiation in the tuna are so low that they are equivalent to that of a banana. But they are helping scientists track these massive swimmers, which have been incredibly difficult to follow before the discovery made by Daniel Madigan and his team at Stanford.

Madigan collected samples from the catches of fisherman in San Diego during the summer of 2011, about five months after the disaster. There they were then analyzed for the presence of radioactivity from Fukushima.

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Says the LA Times:

Upon analysis, the researchers found signals from Fukushima—isotopes called Cesium-134 and Cesium-137 — in all 15 samples they tested. When the team tested for the isotopes in bluefin tuna that migrated to California before the disaster and yellowfin tuna that are native to California waters, the radioactivity wasn’t present, which indicated that it came from Fukushima.

Those amounts didn’t come close to exceeding safety limits, which is a good thing for eaters and scientists alike. Of course, the real reason to steer clear of eating the bluefin on sushi night isn't the radioactivity factor. It's overfishing. But that's another issue entirely.