Scientists from Oregon State University are testing samples of albacore tuna for radiation linked to the Fukushima reactor disaster following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
The local researchers, along with scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the fish caught off the west coast of the U.S. show only minute traces of radiation.
The research team emphasized that the levels are far below anything that would pose a risk to humans who consume the fish.
"We're still processing new fish, but so far the radiation we're detecting is far below the level of concern for human safety," said Delvan Neville, a graduate researcher with OSU's Radiation Health Physics Program and a co-investigator on the project.
He said people are constantly exposed to radiation from the natural environment. To increase a normal annual dosage by just 1 percent, someone would have to eat more than 4,000 pounds of albacore with the highest level of radiation they've found.
The team collected and tested fish caught off the west coast before and after the March 2011 tsunami.
The scientists are hoping their work will reveal new information about where Pacific albacore travel during their migratory lives. Such a discovery could show how what happens in one part of the ocean can affect the food web thousands of miles away.
"We are finding evidence that the albacore caught in Oregon and Washington in the summer have spent the winter in different locations in the North Pacific," said Jason Phillips, whose fisheries research launched the investigation. "But other researchers have been trying to figure out how albacore migrate for decades. We need to increase the number of fish and locations we test before we can start getting at the bigger questions."
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