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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fukushima, Tuna, and Poison Ivy

Last year I posted a map similar to the one at the top of this post.  Not that I thought the Fukushima fallout cloud was actually going to hit the US but just to point out what some people were thinking.

I also wrote "Radiation and Seafood - Inconvenient Truth about 'Clean Energy'" around the same time.

Today the WSJ reports in this article that Tuna laden with cesium-137, as I predicted, are now being caught and sold here in the US.  Though the amount is low (well below US limits) its still there.

Accompanying the article was this map:

Notice anything similar?

Interestingly the tuna seem to have followed the same path as the predicted radiation cloud (which failed to show up).

According to the article marine ecologist Daniel Madigan at Stanford University, who led the study team, said "The tuna packaged it [cesium-137] up and brought it across the world's largest ocean... We were definitely surprised to see it at all and even more surprised to see it in every one we measured."

A surprise that the radiation spread into the wildlife in the sea?

Recently my grandchildren were going to make s'mores on the little fire grill we had set up on our deck.  As the time for s'mores approached they realized they had no sticks for roasting marshmellows.  "Go collected some" the adults said.  So off into the small wooded area near the deck they went.  A sword fight erupted leaving a mess of sticks and leaves all over the year.  Finally enough sticks were collected and the s'more production begain.

The next day I awoke to puffy eyes and what looked like a bug bit on my wrist.  I did not think too much of it and later, after work, mowed the grass and picked up all the sticks and leaves the kids had left in the yard.

Over the next few days I came to realize that the kiddies had collected up a vast collection of poison-ivy-tainted sticks.  About 60% of the family is immune (either too young - kids under about six rarely have rashes from it - or simply immune, like Mrs. Wolf).  Only because Emma Weylin's children also had poison ivy did I piece together what happened.

This was the worst case I've ever had, the afflicted areas measured in square feet and covering all the parts of the body you don't want poison ivy on - ever.  Normally I am extremely careful about poison ivy - we have quite a bit and I have to deal with it on a routine basis while maintaining the property - and I never get it any more due to my fastidious precautions.

On the night we had the s'mores I had just taken a shower before the event.  I worked outside the next day before finally, too late, taking a shower the next evening.  The poison ivy urushiol (the oil that causes the itching) had more than enough time to spread and get on to clothes, pets, equipment, etc.

The point of this is simple.

I've had at least a decade of experience with poison ivy - from brush-hog blades to shoes to weed-wackers and lawn equipment.  I have a routine that I follow to ensure that everything is cleaned up and I don't get a rash.

But this time the kiddies acted as the "outlier."

Finding a means outside the normal course of precautions to cause the worst poison ivy, at least from my perspective, disaster ever.  And even then only two of them got it - no one else on the adult end did save me.

So me and my normal poison ivy precautions are like the nuclear power industry - confident in its safety record.

And the kids are like the tsunami - an outlier that changes the game that no on saw coming.

There was literally no way for me to foresee this disaster.  The small stand of trees where the sticks were acquired are not an area any goes into - I mow around it and never noticed the poison ivy there - of course there was no need to because you can't really walk there (at least an adult cannot).

There was no immediate reaction, unlike say having the kids stir up a hornet nest.  It takes the poison ivy time to cause its damage.

And, once unleashed, there was little to be done about it.

Fortunately I was able to use Zanfel to eliminate the worst of the problems around my face, eyelids and neck early on - but even then I spent a week looking like Mike Tyson's punching bag.  Beyond that the poison ivy merrily spread from arm to leg to arm and back doing its damage in only the way poison ivy can.

I think that my poison ivy experience is a lesson in the folly of men when dealing with the unexpected.

I think it also parallels closely the Fukushima incident in many interesting ways.

The only question is this: are the tainted tuna the entire problem or only the tip of the iceberg?

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