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Got Radioactive Milk?

2012 February 3

<img src="black and white cow" alt=" black and white dairy cow eating in field of grass and flowers">


Update #2- New testing reveals that Cesium levels in Bay Area milk are now at double the EPA Max. Latest Figures for April 2012

Radiation levels in milk continue to climb in San Francisco area milk samples as per testing conducted by the Department of Nuclear Engineering at the University of California Berkeley.  Cesium levels in the latest tested milk samples were 40% higher than they were in March 2011.  UC Berkeley is the only known institution that is still publicly releasing information about the milk supply in the United States. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not released milk testing results since April of 2011.  And, in effect has left the public dangerously in the dark concerning the state of the nation’s milk supply.

Below are some frequently asked questions and concerns concerning radiation in milk.

How Did The Milk Become Radioactive?

The source of the radiation is fallout from the ongoing nuclear disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan that began on March 11, 2011. The nuclear power plant experienced a reported three nuclear reactor meltdowns and probable melt-throughs.  This facility which houses six nuclear reactors remains in unstable and critical condition.  It remains unknown when TEPCO, the Japanese owner and operator of the facility, will be able to stop the plant from leaking radiation. This is the worst nuclear disaster in the  history of our planet.

Radioactive fallout from Fukushima has been deposited not only in Japan, but in astoundingly high quantities throughout the northern hemisphere of our planet. Also, evidence is now emerging that parts of the southern hemisphere have begun to show spikes in radiation readings from Fukushima. Thus, it is likely that dairy herds throughout the world are now being impacted by fallout.

Air, wind and rain are capable of carrying radioactive particles great distances. These contaminants subsequently get deposited into the water ways and tables, vegetation and soil. Vegetation can be directly contaminated by airborne particles. Or, the vegetation can uptake the radioactive particles from soil and water during growth into the internal plant structure.

Dairy cows typically consume a large amount of grass when pastured.  If the grass that a cow ingests contains fallout then that animal is impacted by internal radiation.  The higher amount of contaminated food the cow consumes the more likely that it will produce milk and meat that is radioactive and unfit for consumption.  This collection of toxic burden is known as bio-accumaltion.  Contaminated feed and water supplies also contribute to accumulation of radioactive toxicity.

What is Cesium?

Cesium is a metal. It can either be radioactive or non-radioactive.  The cesium threatening the milk supply is radioactive and is known as Cesium 137.  It has an environmental half life of 30 years.  External exposure from Cesium 137 results in gamma radiation.  When inhaled or ingested, Cesium 137,  is deposited primarily in the soft tissue, such as muscle, and emits beta and gamma radiation.

Testing has also detected amounts of Cesium-134, which is a decay product of Xenon 134. It has a half life of just over two years.

Exposure to cesium can cause cancer and heart damage among other health concerns.  More information can be located, here.

Cesium Pregnancy Concerns

Cesium crosses the placenta.

Pregnant women are normally urged by medical professionals to consume dairy products as a good source of calcium. However, expectant mothers could unknowingly be endangering both themselves and their babies by ingesting radioactive dairy products. Unborn children, due to rapidly dividing cells are very sensitive to radiation. In fact, a recent epidemiological study by noted researchers Dr. Joseph Mangano and Dr. Janette Sherman cited an increase in infant deaths within the United States in the 14 week period following the Fukushima disaster. The full study is located on the Radiation and Public Health Project website.  On a related parallel, Canadian officials also experienced an unexplained increase in SIDS cases in 2011.

The more radioactive particles a pregnant mother consumes the higher her rate of bio-accumulation tallies. This forebodes ill health consequences for both her well being and that of  her unborn child.

Infant Formula Radiation Concerns

Additionally, of great concern, is the unknown radioactive status of dairy ingredients in infant formulas. In December, the Japanese company Meiji issued a voluntarily recall of infant formula due to cesium contamination. However, no other major brand in or outside of Japan has recalled any product based on radiation levels. There are no mandates that dairy suppliers and their end users test for such radioactive contamination in their products.


For most formula fed infants, infant formula constitutes 100% of their nutritional uptake for the first four -six months of life.  This is a rapid growth phase. Cells are dividing and nutritional demands are high. Many radioactive particles mimic non-radioactive nutrients. The human body will therefore uptake whatever is available as it can not discern one particle from the other. It is very easy for a infant to become biologically burdened with these particles.  Their body mass is small and such radioactive uptake can overwhelm immature body systems that have not yet developed a fully functioning immune response.

If you are using infant formula it would be prudent to inquire with the manufacturer about their testing protocols (if any) for detecting radiation in their products.

Breastfeeding Concerns

If a mother has been internally exposed to cesium or other radioactive contaminants it will pass through to her breast milk to her infant.

However, in the absence of a known and available radioactive free donated breast milk source or verified radioactive free infant formula it generally considered better for the mother to continue breastfeeding rather than resort to contaminated replacements. Breastfeeding affords the impacted infant with unique immunological properties that could prohibit or curb the development of illness and subsequent disease.

Mothers should do as much as they can to mitigate their own exposure to inhaled or ingested particles radioactive particles to protect the dual health of mother and child.

Other Radioactive Contaminants

Fallout of Iodine -131 and Strontium 90 have also impacted milk sheds. The UC Berkeley sampling has focused on Cesium. However, these radioactive substances are no less alarming.

Iodine-131 has a half-life of 8 days. When inhaled or ingested it primarily attacks the thyroid. In the aftermath of uptake, cancer and various thyroid malfunctions are manifested.

Strontium 90 has a half -life of 28.8 years. Thus the deposition of strontium 90 fallout will remain a health concern for an extended period of time as it will continue to enter our food chain. Strontium 90 mimics the role of calcium in our bodies. It is of significant concern to the unborn, infants and children who have high calcium uptake rates as they are growing teeth and bones. The human body will uptake Strontium 90 when that is available in greater quantity than calcium. High Strontium 90 uptake contributes significantly to childhood leukemia.

Take Action

Please inform your friends and family of these real and present dangers. Consider contacting local dairy producers and manufacturers and ask them if they have in place or will be implementing testing protocols. Phone or write your elected officials and demand that the EPA and other agencies provide the public with current, comprehensive and accessible testing data of milk and other dairy products.

A large public outcry will prompt change. Our children deserve to be protected. If ever there was a clarion call to action, this is it.

Update: New UC Berkley February Sample Shows Cesium at 150% of EPA Limit.