The journal Technology Review from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reports that Fukushima’s radioactive signature has been found in California wine. “The Japanese nuclear disaster bathed North America in a radioactive cloud,” the sub-title blares. Now the journal says, “Pharmacologists have found the telltale signature in California wine made at the time.” In 2001, the French pharmacologist Philippe Hubert discovered that cesium-137 produces distinctive gamma rays in proportion to the amount of isotope present. In 2017, Hubert and colleagues began examining California wines made between 2009 and 2012, in view of the March 2011 Fukushima radiation gusher. The team found “measurable amounts of cesium-137 above background levels in the wine produced after 2011.” Hubert’s group concluded, “It seems there is an increase in [cesium] activity in 2011 by a factor of two.” The amounts are far below what government, industry and the military have declared “allowable,” but internal radiation exposures are thought by experts to be more harmful than external doses. Hubert earlier studied the cesium content in French wines made between 1950 and 2008 and found the amount directly corresponded to the volume of cesium dispersed in the atmosphere by bomb tests and reactor accidents.
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