GOOD

Feast Your Eyes: Radioactive Wasabi

Japanese authorities update the list of contaminated foods while the FDA tests produce at U.S. ports.


As contaminated water leaks into the ocean from the the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, and the soil near the plant tests positive for plutonium, Japanese authorities have updated the list of the nation's contaminated foods.

Milk, spinach, and other leafy greens grown in Miyagi and neighboring prefectures were already known to contain elevated levels of radioactive iodine-131 and cesium-137, but now 99 more products have tested positive for radioactive contamination—although most still at levels considered safe to eat for everyone but infants and pregnant women.


According to NPR, wasabi (shown above in its raw state) had some of the highest recorded levels, exceeding legal guidelines for iodine-131. Other more unusual foods on the list included chrysanthemum leaves (shungiku), which are eaten in salads, and mizuna, or mustard leaves.

As the New York Times explained last week, the movement of radioactive contamination through the food chain is complex and hard to predict. Big edible leaves are initially susceptible, as are the thyroid glands of livestock such as cows and goats (and hence their milk). Radioactive iodine, with its extremely short half-life, is only dangerous for the initial couple of weeks following a leak, but cesium is much longer lasting and can accumulate in an ecosystem for decades, depending on the type of soil—crops grown in sandy soil accumulate more radioactivity—wind direction, and rainfall.

F. Ward Whicker, an expert in radioecology, described the difficulty in predicting how radiactivity will move through the food chain, and thus the stupidity of creating blanket import bans:

There is an extremely complex interaction between the type of radionuclide and the weather and the type of vegetation. There can be hot spots far away from an accident, and places in between that are fine.

\n

For now, the FDA is stopping all produce imported from the affected Japanese prefectures at U.S. ports for testing. So if it's on the shelves, it should be safe to eat.

Photo (cc) by Flickr user CeeKay via NPR.

Articles
via Douglas Muth / Flickr

Sin City is doing something good for its less fortunate citizens as well as those who've broken the law this month. The city of Las Vegas, Nevada will drop any parking ticket fines for those who make a donation to a local food bank.

A parking ticket can cost up to $100 in Las Vegas but the whole thing can be forgiven by bringing in non-perishable food items of equal or greater value to the Parking Services Offices at 500 S. Main Street through December 16.

The program is designed to help the less fortunate during the holidays.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Truthout.org / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
Photo by HAL9001 on Unsplash

The U.K. is trying to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but aviation may become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. by that same year. A new study commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and conducted at the Imperial College London says that in order for the U.K. to reach its target, aviation can only see a 25% increase, and they've got a very specific recommendation on how to fix it: Curb frequent flyer programs.

Currently, air travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, however that number is projected to increase for several reasons. There's a growing demand for air travel, yet it's harder to decarbonize aviation. Electric cars are becoming more common. Electric planes, not so much. If things keep on going the way they are, flights in the U.K. should increase by 50%.

Nearly every airline in the world has a frequent flyer program. The programs offer perks, including free flights, if customers get a certain amount of points. According to the study, 70% of all flights from the U.K. are taken by 15% of the population, with many people taking additional (and arguably unnecessary) flights to "maintain their privileged traveler status."

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet