The meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan happened more than seven years ago but the effects of the disaster are still evident today.
Fukushima's Signature Found In California Wine
The Incident Is the biggest nuclear event since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. It occurred after 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck Japan in March 2011. Three reactors melted down and released contaminated water from the ill-fated nuclear plant.
A new study now reports about Fukushima's signature found in California wines. Nuclear physicists revealed that the nuclear disaster has led to an increase in levels of a radioactive isotope in red and rose wines.
The researchers tested 18 bottles of California rosé and cabernet sauvignon produced from 2009 onwards and found an increased level of cesium-137 in the wines that were produced after the nuclear accident. They also found that the level of the radioactive material has been doubled in the cabernet.
Caesium-137 In Wines
Affected wines were found to have increased amount of cesium-137, which is released into the atmosphere by weapons tests and nuclear accidents.
The researchers have been examining wines from different parts of the world in an attempt to correlate the level of radioactive material with the date that the grapes were picked.
Study researcher Michael Pravikoff and colleagues used a method that is being used to verify the authenticity of wines. They said that wines that were made around major nuclear events such as the American and Soviet nuclear tests conducted during the Cold War and the Chernobyl accidents should have higher levels of cesium-137.
The isotope is man-made and cannot have existed prior to the 20th century and nuclear events would leave signatures based on the time these incidents occurred and their proximity to the grapes.
Does This Mean Drinking Wine Is Not Safe?
Ingesting cesium-137 may lead to increased risk of cancer. Experts, however, said that the amount of radioactive material from Fukushima in food and drinks outside of Japan is not high enough to cause health hazards.
"Radiation levels measured to date in other countries are far below the level of background radiation that most people are exposed to in everyday circumstances and do not present health or transportation safety hazards," the World Health Organization said.
In 2016, researchers also reported that cesium-134 was detected and measured in samples of seawater off the U.S. West Coast. They also detected this Fukushima fingerprint in a Canadian salmon.