Radioactive elements found in honey across US [Video]


  • Remnants of radioactive elements from previous nuclear explosions were found in honey across the US regions.
  • The study author Jim Kaste said that the honey was still “safe for consumption.”
  • The presence of radiocesium element decreased over time since the bombings.

Based on a new study, honey from various US regions contained a radioactive element that could have gotten from nuclear testing during the 1950s up to 60s.

The research presented that about 68 out of 122 honey samples coming from Maine to Florida had amounts of cesium-137, a relic of nuclear tests that underwent from the time of the infamous ‘cold war.’ 

The winds have brought the cesium to the eastern direction, as remnants of the relics were still present in some plants and animals after a half century.

According to study’s lead author Jim Kaste, the rates of cesium-137 were that high to the point that it could be harmful to humans. The honey was “safe for consumption,” he said.

“I’m not trying to tell people they shouldn’t eat honey. I feed my kids honey,” Kaste said in a blogpost. “I eat more honey now than I did when I started this project.”

Originally, the research began as a spring break assignment for William & Mary freshmen students in 2017. The study aimed to use the radiocesium that was present in honey as an indicator of atmospherically deposited contaminants, and to determine new “hotspots” of pollution.

Same with potassium, the cesium element can be strongly absorbed by plants especially in cases when there’s no potassium available. The plants likely ingested the cesium, and it was being passed to the bees from the nectar.

The study also revealed that in some parts of the US, more content of cesium was found.

“While soils of the eastern US have a relatively narrow range of radiocesium today, concentrations in honey sourced from this region spanned nearly three orders of magnitude with far higher levels in the south-east,” the research says, which was published on March 29.

The study also mentioned that the presence of radiocesium has dipped over time since the past decades. Researchers discovered that honey and pollen in European countries had radiocesium levels following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. 

“What we see today is a small fraction of the radiation that was present during the 1960s and 1970s… And we can’t say for sure if cesium-137 has anything to do with bee colony collapse or the decline of population,” Kaste said in the blogpost.

The explosions, which were spearheaded by the US and the Soviet Union then, were detonated from areas such as Nevada, New Mexico, the Marshall Islands and the Russian Arctic archipelago of Novaya Zemlya.

Source: The Guardian

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