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Is it safe to eat seafood?

Bluefin Tuna, among the "toxic" fish of the Pacific?
Bluefin Tuna, among the "toxic" fish of the Pacific?
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

With all the freakish organisms supposedly popping up out of the Pacific Ocean, should we be concerned about eating seafood? Radioactive water leaking from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant may be contaminating fish caught off the west coast of the United States.

Recently, a horrifying blog post went viral, suggesting that not only are the oceans in danger following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, but so are our lives! Author Gary Stamper mentions an MSNBC article reporting "seals and polar bears were found to have 'external maladies' that consisted of fur loss and open sores, obvious signs of radiation burns from the Fukushima meltdown." And the Arctic mammals are not the only ones who are suffering! Stamper claims, "almost a third more US West Coast newborns may face thyroid problems" in the years to come.

I mean. If that's not enough to scare you. He goes on to say the pollution is becoming more concentrated as it approaches the west coast, and pacific herring in Canada have been bleeding from the eyeballs, faces, fins, and tails. The government allegedly hasn't mentioned anything because it will affect sales for the fishing industry. But who is this Stamper anyhow, and where is his evidence?

A more reliable source, Fiona Matheson, a spokesperson for National Marine Fisheries, says the federal agency funded a couple studies of tuna that migrated from Japan in 2011 and 2012. Radiation levels were extremely low, they claim there is no risk to human health. Matheson says, "a person would have to eat more than 4,000 pounds of albacore tuna at a much higher radiation level to increase his/her radiation level by just one percent.”

Like Matheson, Nicholas Fisher does not have the same anxieties as Stamper. Fisher, a professor at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University in New York, has been measuring radioactivity in seafood since the Fukushima incident in March 2011. He was also the lead author in the study that found radioactive isotopes in 15 bluefin tuna found in the waters near San Diego. He assures the public there is nothing to be concerned about, the radioactive levels are too low to do any damage.

Chris Kresser, New York Times best selling author and integrative medicine practitioner, says, "a typical restaurant-sized portion of Pacific bluefin tuna (7 ounces) contains about 5% of the radiation you would get from eating one uncontaminated banana and absorbing it’s naturally occurring radiation. All foods on the planet contain radiation." So because we are already surrounded by toxins every day, we should not be fearful of eating seafood.

When dining out, ask your server where the fish on the menu comes from and choose to eat locally caught fish, if you're still concerned. According to the experts, unless you're eating 22 pounds of fish a day, you have nothing to be worried about.

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