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Our test results showed that for every litre of milk, there are 0.4 disintegrations every second.

Mother testing milk for Sr-90 in 1960 Every minute there are 60 x 0.4 disintegrations=24 disintegrations per minute. There are 1440 minutes in a day, so that one litre of milk will give off 34,560 disintegrations in a day. Many kids will drink that amount, and more, every day.

Studies have shown that 70-80% of that radioactive Strontium 90 is excreted. That leaves 7000 disintegrations in the body each day for the one litre of milk. Multiply that by 365 and every year there will be over two and a half million disintegrations in your child’s body.

After 15 years of drinking milk your child will have had 37 ½ million disintegrations alone going on inside the bones – after having excreted 80% of it. This will hugely increase the chance of developing bone cancer or leukemia.

And, after a nuclear event, this Strontium 90 comes along with about 200 other radioisotopes – all of which can cause gene mutations and cancer as well as many other ill health effects as they disintegrate away.

0.4 Bq/litre….such an innocent looking number……

Historical Perspective

In an attempt to put the Strontium 90 in our milk more in perspective, we tried to find out if anyone had tested for Strontium 90 before Fukushima.

Over 400 atomic ground weapons were tested beginning in 1945 and contaminated the atmosphere with radioactive fallout. Both the American and the Canadian governments started testing their milk supplies for Strontium 90 and Cesium 134 and 137 in the late 1950’s.

Health Canada’s Radiation Protection Bureau (RPB) set up 16 locations across Canada and tested milk every three months. The highest levels of Strontium 90 were found in 1964 at over 1.0 Bq/l. This is equivalent to over 27 pCi per litre or 338 percent higher than the EPA’s current Maximum Contamination Level.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also tested for Strontium 90 in their milk during this time. EPA reported that the highest Sr-90 concentrations were seen in 1963, following the intensive nuclear weapons testing of 1961-1962.

Their graphs showed close to 160 pCi/l, equivalent to 5.9 Bq/l. These results were almost six times higher than in Canada, probably because the tests were done in the United States and thus Canada was further away from the fallout.

English Bay Beach in Vancouver We wanted to find out if and how this level of radioactivity affected the human population. Luckily, at the same time that the U.S. and Canadian governments were testing for the levels of the radionuclides in the food and environment, scientists set about trying to determine the effect of this never-before-seen nuclear fallout.

The Baby Tooth Survey was started in 1958 by the Greater St. Louis Citizens’ Committee for Nuclear Information. This committee worked with Saint Louis University and the Washington University School of Dental Medicine. As a way of determining the effects of nuclear fallout in the human anatomy, they collected and examined the deciduous “baby” teeth of children for levels of radioactive materials absorbed into the teeth.

Ultimately, the researchers collected over 300,000 teeth before the study concluded in 1970. The study found that children born after 1963 had levels of Strontium 90 in their baby teeth that were 50 times higher than the levels found in children born before the large scale atomic testing began.
These results actually helped convince President John F. Kennedy to sign the Partial Nuclear Test Ban treaty with the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union.

Interestingly, in 2001, a set of 85,000 teeth from the project were uncovered in storage by Washington University. These teeth were given to The Radiation and Public Health Project which tracked 3,000 people who had participated in the tooth collection project In 2010 they published their findings in the International Journal of Health Science.

The results showed that the 12 children who later died of cancer before the age of 50 had levels of Strontium 90 in their stored baby teeth that was twice the level of those who were still alive at 50 years of age.

The U.S. EPA reported that, “after the majority of above-ground nuclear tests ceased in 1963, the Sr-90 level in pasteurized milk dropped sharply. Because other countries continued a small number of above-ground tests, the Sr-90 level reached a plateau rather than disappearing. Since the last above ground nuclear test in 1980, the Sr-90 in milk has steadily decreased as the radionuclide has decayed away.”

The Canadian Radiation Protection Bureau similarly reported that, “since the cessation of atmospheric nuclear weapons testing by treaty signatories in 1962, the values for Sr-90 have been steadily decreasing.”

But his means that Strontium 90 has been in our milk supply all along. And of course, this makes sense knowing now that Strontium 90 takes 289 years to completely disintegrate. It will decayed away completely sometime between 2233 to 2281.

Health Canada reports that by 1993, the level of Strontium 90 in Canadian milk was down to 0.055 Bq/l or 1.485 pCi/l. Vancouver milk was slightly lower at .051 Bq/l.

As a result of decreasing radiation levels, the Canadian milk sampling program was modified in 1994, to analyze commercial milk samples from Ottawa, Ontario. Ottawa, the nation’s council, is over 2,000 miles away from Vancouver B.C. in the east of Canada.
Overall, the Strontium 90 readings across Canada pre-Fukushima and up to 2011 were in the range of 0.03 to 0.09 Bq/l.

The last pre-Fukushima testing of milk in B.C. by the Canadian government was done in 1993. They tested four milk samples and found Strontium 90 in all samples at levels between 0.0314 and 0.0664 Bq/l.

Sr 90 in Canadian milk 1958 to 1992 We found it quite shocking to discover that Strontium 90 has been detected in our milk supply since the 1950’s. We had never seen any warnings about this from Health Canada.

Health Canada started publishing Canada’s Food Rules in 1942. In 1961 they changed the name to Canada’s Food Guide. This guide outlines the amount and type of food recommended to “reduce your risk of…..cancer…..and contribute to overall health…..”

Milk intake recommendations range from a minimum of two to four glasses of milk a day. The recommendations did not change after the government started finding Strontium 90 in the milk supply.

The food guide includes these recommendations for children and pregnant and lactating women – those very people who are most susceptible to radioactivity.

The same government that is promoting milk has been testing for and found Strontium 90 in the milk. Is it the dairy industry lobby that has helped to ensure these recommendations?

Using the same calculations based on disintegrations per second as done previously, even the 0.0314 Bq/l found in 1993 from the weapons testing is an eye opener.

That is equivalent to almost 200,000 disintegrations going on in the body every year, with 200,000 more disintegrations being added every year – after the 80% is excreted.

The 0.0664 Bq/l found translates to about 420,000 disintegrations going on in the body each and every year – after 80% has been excreted No wonder there is a cancer epidemic out there

If Fukushima fallout has contaminated our milk supply, this has simply been an addition to the Strontium 90 that has always been in Canadian milk.

Did not the Canadian government want to at least make the Canadian public aware that this dangerous man-made radioisotope was being found in the milk we feed our children every day, that our pregnant women drink every day, that breast feeding mothers drink every day, and that bio-accumulate into their breast milk and pass onto their vulnerable babies – every day?

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17 Comments

  1. Gordon Jenkins

    In 1961, there was a fire and nuclear meltdown in Idaho at something called SL-1 that released huge amounts of radioactive contamination into the atmosphere, including Strontium 90. Now the thing of it is that at that time there was a huge dairy company called United Dairies Limited of Calgary, Alberta (now owned by Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. in Laval, Quebec, Canada through a long series of transfers in ownership). They also had an ice cream division called Crystal Dairy in Medicine Hat, Alberta. through many above ground nuclear tests, fallout and processing contamination from nuclear weapons processing in the U.S. and the Northerly Chinook winds, many Albertans, especially the young and vulnerable ones were exposed to gene-damaging levels of radioactivity in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. In those days milk delivery to homes was common in Calgary, Lethbridge, and Medicine Hat. Many genetic defects and health problems have developed over the years in the young southern Albertans, including those of my eldest brother. The Dairy Industry of Alberta, The Government of Alberta, The Government of Canada, the Cancer Society of Alberta have all conducted a conspiracy of silence and coverup campaign of our exposures. The American Cancer Society Map of Radiation Exposure ends at the Canadian Border. Canada and Alberta have no such radiation exposure maps, in fact they are Deathly Silent on the matter.

  2. Now one has to tell me that there is a high amount of radiation in our food or water as my pets go out and eat grass only to vomit blood after that and go into excruciating pain and not just that . I have noticed that some of my garden plants chard and other plants tasted like chemicals. We are all in big trouble.

  3. @Sais Your comments are anecdotal and easy to logically pick apart. Let’s hear some real scientific analysis.

    1) Why does the story need to talk about Fukushima? That is not necessary. You seem to be implying cherry picking.

    2) How would those two 15 year old girls know about their health status of something so subtle? Did they have the appropriate tests performed on them? Where exactly did they live? It’s obvious that nuclear radiation sickness effects can take years to manifest so they may still be affected but not feel any symptoms. Unless you know the details, speaking generally can invalidate all your comments.

    3) If you know anything about statistics, correlations, probabilities as it applies here, it does not imply any certainty about being dead at 50. That is your own faulty logic.

    From your comments, you appear to be a naive believer in the power of science and that what is “known” is safe enough to trust. What you fail to realize is that there is more unknown than is known. Human knowledge is imperfect because nature is infinitely interdependent. We may know a few links in her chain, but most we are ignorant of. We’ve never had widespread radiation that is polluting entire oceans and large portions of the planet at these significant levels before. Nature is very nonlinear and interlinked and it is highly presumptuous of you to think that we can rely simply on what we presently know to judge the future in such an uncertain scenario. As has always happened in the past, as concerns drive investigation, new knowledge will reveal itself to show missing links of how nature works and our current models will then have to adapt.

  4. Why has there been no mention of the radioactivity levels in the populated areas of Japan near Fukashima in this article or the following comments? I just had two Japanese 15 year old school girls stay in my Australian home for a week. They live about 30 miles from the reactor. No comments about ongoing emissions. They thought they lived far enough away to have no problems. Your story makes me even more sceptical. Your statistics suggest they will both be dead of cancer by 50! The stats were incomplete, e.g.no cancer risk. The logic of ceasing to eat radionucleotides, by ceasing to eat top of food chain,I.e.go vegan. was missed.

  5. @mario – goats milk historically has had higher radiation readings than cows milk.

  6. Thank you for this perfectly-written and informative article. Thank you also for your selflessness in testing the milk and sharing your results.

    Your article makes it even more concerning that in 2009 the EPA signed off on Protective Action Guidelines whick allow a permissible 1,000-fold increase of Strontium-90 in drinking water!

    http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2009/01/21-0

    Strontium-90 was also found in Florida rain as reported by an Enenewser.

    Also, if anyone would like to see the EPA’s results for Strontium-90 in milk for your area, you can run a query here:

    http://iaspub.epa.gov/enviro/erams_query_v2.simple_query

    Out of curiosity, I ran a query for the western U.S. region for Strontium-90 in Pasteurized Milk from 1978-2013, and here is the result:

    http://oaspub.epa.gov/enviro/erams_query_v2.simple_output?pStation=0&Llocation=EPA+Region&subloc=09&media=PASTEURIZED+MILK&radi=Strontium-90&Fromyear=1978&Toyear=2013&units=Traditional

  7. Where's the truth?

    I am heart broken at this event and all of the events of mass destruction I’ve witnessed and had the displeasure of reading about from in mankinds history. Japan has been the evil powers that be’s radiation playground for some time now. Sadly, we experience these disasters and pick up from where we left off and blindly carry on as though, ahh it’s halfway across the globe, it’s not in my backyard so no worries.

    We (north America) will have many of the sins we consent to our government performing around the world come upon our heads tenfold because we do nothing to try and stop it. Continue to feed the beast and when you can no longer sustain it’s appetite, it will in turn feed upon the land and it’s inhabitants that gave it it’s power.

  8. Mrs Stevie Hobbs

    The British Government is going nuclear – rather than spend money on wind farms and wave power they prefer to join the happy band of profiteers who own the Nuclear industries. Does anyone know how to find out if we are also testing our milk etc and who do I write to to find out?

  9. @Susan

    Below is an initial response from an environmental lawyer answering my questions about using Dr. Busby’s petition approach.

    ************************************************

    It appears to me that, in Canada, what would be required would be integration of the safety protocols into regulations under federal law. One can review a variety of current regulations on the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) website (http://nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng/lawsregs/index.cfm ). The creation of new regulations typically involves a level of lobbying and advocacy and requires a high level of persistence. Some non-government organizations in Canada (such as Sierra Club Canada http://www.sierraclub.ca ) have been involved in issues surrounding nuclear energy and may have some insight in terms of strategies.

    Generally, a starting point would be to contact the CNSC and ensure that they have all the relevant evidence. Follow up meetings with the Commission might follow to outline the need and relevance of safety approach you are advocating.

    In terms of bringing the matter forward to a domestic tribunal or court, I think there would be a need to find circumstances which are illustrative of the risks involved and to present the need for greater regulation, in that instance. This in itself would require significant monitoring and background work it seems to me as the EU is far more active on this front (or so it seems from my general awareness).

    In terms of other alternatives, one can bring an environmental petition to the office of the Auditor General of Canada and the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development (a guide to this process can be viewed at http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/docs/pet_lp_e_930.pdf ). Please see the example — http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/pet_163A_e_28897.html . As you will note in the petition that is linked the applicant sought to establish whether the federal government viewed the Charter of Rights and Freedoms included a right to a clean environment (to which the government responded by avoiding an answer and claiming existing legislation protected the environment).

  10. Yet Another Simi Mom

    Back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, Canadians felt that their society was far advanced, in comparison with that of the United States, in terms of protection of the country’s citizens.

    Fast forward to the 2000’s and pro-business Conservative Stephen Harper became Prime Minister and in that role is the person who selects those who manage Canada’s federal government. Prime Minister Harper’s interests are business, business, business. It’s very clear that it is not in the economic interests of Canada’s businesses that the Canadian government admit reality: That certain dairy or farming regions have been irreversibly harmed by Fukushima’s radiation, and that the continuing releases of radiation will make the harm to Canada’s dairy and growing regions and their businesses permanent. Since the Conservative Canadian government is unable to stop the continued nuclear contamination of parts of Canada due to Fukushima’s ongoing melt downs, the Conservative government simply decides to say nothing and do nothing, allowing Canadian businesses to continue to sell contaminated dairy products, and perhaps contaminated beef, to fellow Canadians.

    As a result, a generation or more of Canadian children will be put at risk of the same sort of nuclear contamination caused illnesses found in Belarus and south west Russia as a result of the Chernobyl radiation.

    Morally, pre-Harper Canada usually took the high ground and told the truth, even if the truth was painful and the problem difficult and long term.

    It’s so sad that as to this critical public health issue, Canada’s federal and provincial governments have fallen to a new low…matching the reckless, callous conduct of the U.S. government.

  11. “People have a right to know.” – on page 4

    Some of us do know, but we had to look for it. No agency or government is going to stand up and say they were wrong.

    The Nuclear Overlords and their servants are never going to say squat! …and they certainly aren’t going to ‘announce’ it via mainstream media to a large number of people who think Fukushima is done and over. That might cause panic.

    Even worse… it might get people to thinking just how insanely dangerous Nuclear Power really is. …and they wouldn’t want that either.

  12. Fantastic article! Just a correction: the biggest source of sr90 in foods and milk in the U.S. and Canada in the 1960s was not continental testing at the Nevada Test Site, but rather from high atmospheric fallout created by huge H-bomb tests in the Pacific and in Siberia. That 1960s fallout actually hit Canada much harder than the U.S. If you look at 1960s UNSCEAR reports, you’ll see that Canadian soils had 150-200% higher sr90 depositions than in the U.S., on average, and higher values in wheat, etc… Question: did the labs you worked with also test for strontium-89? Is there any reason you didn’t ask them to test for that isotope as well?

  13. @ Marlo – as far as I know, no one has tested goat’s milk. However, this needs to be done. Peter Daley of The Food Lab has told us that goats milk concentrates radionuclides even more than cow’s milk. If you are drinking goat’s milk, I encourage you to send in a litre of it to a certified testing lab.

  14. has anyone tested goat’s milk at all and has testing been done in the interior of b.c.?

  15. David, we NEED your help! Chris Busby’s petition is very interesting. Also, going through the legal system has possibilities. It takes time, energy and money to get these initiatives going. Everyone needs to get active on this issue of our very survival.

    Every reactor produces so much highly radioactive nuclear waste and there is NO WHERE to put it!!! Even without a disaster, every nuclear power plant is allowed to release radioactivity into the environment. When there is a disaster, it is a complete catastrophe – look at Japan – changed forever – contaminated land, sick and dying people, no end in sight.

    We currently have a campaign started to close down the closest nuclear power plant to our home.

    Everyone needs to find out where their closest nuclear reactor is located. Then they need to find out if there is a group working to shut it down. If there is, they need to JOIN IT! If there isn’t, they need to CREATE ONE!

    As Jerry Mander and Ernest Callenbach said in the forward to the “must read” 2013 book “Nuclear Roulette” by Gar Smith:

    “The situation is so grave that we should ….be camped out night and day in front of the legislative and regulatory bodies demanding the permanent end to any and every expression of this continued nuclear menace”.

  16. I deeply appreciate the work that went into this informative report. I am grateful for the dedication of those who gathered the facts and I have shared the article as much as I can. While I live in Ontario, I have family in B.C. and I am concerned for all of us across the country and around the world. What a mess!

  17. Thank you! What a loss for all of us and all life forms on earth! And the strange thing is that none of this
    has to happen. We need nuclear like we need a hole in our head.

    Three reflections.

    1. Dr. Busby petition approach in Europe is an interesting way to have the governments there to look at the contanmination through a legal process. Can us Canadians do the same?

    http://nuclearjustice.org/?p=50

    2. Tony Merchant – lawyer – is representing former Chalk river workers in an class action lawsuit. Maybe he would be willing to take this on.

    3. My MLA needs to see these lab reports along with a letter demanding change.

    Please advise.

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