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Preliminary Assessment of Radionuclide Exposure

February 17, 2012

Assessment of radiation levels from tissue samples from pinnipeds involved in the 2011 Northern Pinnipeds Unusual Mortality Event.

An international team of scientists investigated the cause of the 2011 Northern Pinnipeds Unusual Mortality Event (UME). This investigation included a broad assessment of a number of potential contributing factors to the disease outbreak. Because of the timing and scope of the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident in Japan, radiation exposure was one of many factors assessed.

Scientists conducted preliminary qualitative screening of a few tissue samples from both healthy and sick pinnipeds (ice seals and walruses) involved in this UME for possible radionuclide exposure. No radiation levels were found in these samples that would directly cause the symptoms seen in the pinnipeds. Test results show radiation levels are within the typical background range for Alaska.

Drs. John Kelley and Douglas Dasher, who were the leads for the UME radiation assessment, worked with the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and College of Natural Science and Mathematics Engineering, Science and Technology Experiment Station on this investigation.

Last updated by Alaska Regional Office on 11/03/2022

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