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Another reason to avoid bears

January 1, 2012

Radioactive? Me?!

By David Ritchie

Bears can be dangerous. We knew that already. But now there’s an extra reason.

On Dec. 30, Iori Mochizuki’s always informative Fukushima Diary blog at posted some arresting figures on radioactivity in the biosphere.

From a study of 220 samples in December, here are radioactivity levels in selected organisms. Readings are in becquerels, or nuclear disintegrations, per kilogram (Bq/kg).

Fish (yamame and rainbow trout), 234
Deer, 351
Mushrooms,  400+
Bear meat, 934

Check out the post at

As if we needed one, we now have a new incentive to steer clear of bears.

Meanwhile, a note on cattle. Mochizuki reported on Dec. 29 that one local government has been monitoring rice straw from almost 2000 cattle farmers.

The results? Rice straw from 32 farmers registered more than 100,000 Bq/kg of cesium. The top reading was 350,000.

Down on the farm, there’s a whole lotta becquerels goin’ on.

As for rice itself, brace for a shock:

No need to interpret those numbers for you. They speak for themselves.

To put all this in perspective, remember that a level of only 50 Bq per second is thought to cause “irreversible” damage to vital organs:

Figures like these scarcely … well, bear contemplation.

When you finish groaning at that pun, please think about giving Mochizuki and his website at some support.

A refugee from radioactivity, he chose to flee Japan. Now he’s in Europe, far from home.

At the very least, send him encouragement.

And tell him a friend in Korea says hello.

ⓒDavid Ritchie 2012

(David Ritchie lives and works in Seoul, Korea. He welcomes correspondence and asks only that it be civil in tone. Contact: kwriter [at]

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  1. Sorry, but I debate with this story. I do delight in your personal blog however and may continue to keep coming once again for posts.

  2. Pacific permalink

    Owwwww, that bear pun was deadly bad. Almost shook my new admiration for your writing and information 🙂

    Seriously, I live on the west coast of US, across the Pacific. I’ve been reading a lot about the Fukushima meltdowns and am glad to find your site. Good info, and I really like your writing. “Another reason to avoid bears” charmed me and would make a good t-shirt. Conversation starter, too, for better or worse, with folks here who are getting very, very little news coverage of the disaster.

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