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The magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck off the northeastern coast of Japan in 2011 set off a string of tsunamis, which caused some of the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant to release radiation into the atmosphere and Pacific Ocean. According to the Center for Marine and Environmental Radioactivity, the levels of radioactive material in the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of North America are much lower than those in the waters off of Japan.
Studies of migratory fish such as bluefin tuna have shown that by the time they reach North American waters, the trace amount of radioactive materials they contain is comparable to or less than the levels normally found from natural background radiation. The highest levels of radiation are found in bottom-dwelling fish off the coast of Japan, but these do not migrate across Pacific waters and are not sold. Ask your fishmonger about the country of origin before purchasing, but for now, it’s safe to consume North American Pacific-caught seafood. For the most up-to-date information, visit ourradioactiveocean.org.
Registered dietitians Tiffani Bachus and Erin Macdonald are the co-founders and creators of URockGirl.com, a website dedicated to promoting wellness and a healthy, balanced lifestyle.