We have all been led to believe that radioactive iodine is no longer a threat from Fukushima because it has such a short half-life. The threat from Fukushima still is with us and comes from I-129. Iodine 131 (half life of 8 days) and Iodine 129 travel together, so the presence of the easily detectable isotope also signals the presence of the longer-lived one. “If you have a recent event like Fukushima, you are going to have both present. The iodine-131 is going to decay away pretty quickly over the course of weeks, but the iodine-129 is there forever, essentially,” Joshua Landis, a research associate in the Department of Earth Science at Dartmouth explains, “Once the iodine-131 decays, you lose your ability to track the migration of either isotope.”
In the 1990s, many studies reported an increase in thyroid cancer in children due to the release of Iodine-131 during the Chernobyl accident in 1986 (Prisyazhniuk et al., 1991; Kazakov et al., 1992). Iodine supplementation diminishes the dangers of ionized radiation. Dr. Brownstein writes, “If there is enough inorganic, non-radioactive iodine in our bodies, the radioactive fallout has nowhere to bind in our bodies. It will pass through us, leaving our bodies unharmed. It is important to ensure that we have adequate iodine levels before fallout hits.”
While a vast array of radioactive isotopes were released into the environment during the Fukushima meltdown, iodine-129 is a particularly concerning material, due to its incredibly long half-life. Thanks to the long half-life of iodine-129, the Pacific coast may never be the same again. It will take about 16 million years for the contamination from the nuclear accident to dissipate. Radiation apologists diminish the dangers of radioactive iodine because they focus only on Iodine 131, which has a very short half-life of only eight days while ignoring the existence of iodine-129.
The release of iodine-129 into the environment means that food that comes from the North American western coast will likely be contaminated with radiation for innumerable generations to come. Radiation in the oceans will inevitably enter our water supply, and consequently our food supply as well. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), iodine from the ocean enters the air as sea spray or iodine gas. Once in the air, iodine can then combine with water particles and enter surface water and soil once the particles fall to ground. Iodine can remain in the soil for extremely long periods of time, because it can combine with organic material easily. Plants and vegetation that grow in this soil also have the potential to absorb the iodine.
Iodine-131 (half-life: 8 days) is one of the most harmful radionuclides because it has the highest activity among radionuclides immediately after an accident and it causes thyroid cancer in children.
One of the many problems with the official government maps and press releases is that they do not mention radioactive Iodine 129, which has a total lifetime of 150 million years. Not only is this long lived radioactive Iodine 129 dangerous to thyroids, just like it's short lived cousin, it also gets poured out of melting down reactors at a rate that is about 31 times that of the short lived radioactive cousin, Iodine 131. The nuclear industry propaganda machine likes to focus only on the short-lived Iodine and ignore the long-lived one, which has serious implications for the future of the human race.
Iodine-129, although a result of nuclear fission in reactors, also occurs to a small extent in the upper atmosphere due to the interaction of high-energy particles with naturally-occurring xenon.
“This is very amazing to me, having been working in the radioactive xenon monitoring field for about 17 years now. This was astounding to me… You can see background levels around 0.1 mBq/m3… Note the peak concentration we saw was in the range of 45,000 mBq/m3 — so that is 450,000 times our background level. For me that’s astounding. We never have ever seen anything even close to that. So the concentrations went up and up and up every day, and so that was quite amazing to see this 7,000 kilometers away from the event. I only show some of the data here, but it actually persisted for weeks at very measurable levels, and filled the entire northern hemisphere and mixed into the southern hemisphere,” reports one of the researchers on ENE news.
Iodine 129 decays into radioactive Xenon 129 sometime during its 16 million years. It is important to realize that radioactive Iodine does not disappear. It transmutes as it decays into other radioactive elements, such as radioactive Xenon gas, which can be inhaled easily, and which causes lung cancer.
Once inhaled, Xenon gas decays into solid radioactive Cesium, which is also cancer causing. Then radioactive cesium decays over the next 300 years into other more dangerous, radioactive elements, finally ending with the toxic heavy metal lead, which is extremely toxic and deadly even in small amounts.
Some types of radioactive xenon is produced from nuclear fission. Other isotopes of xenon are produced by beta decay meaning heightened world levels of xenon are a symptom of numerous other types of radioactive particles decaying in the broad environment. 131mXe, 133Xe, 133mXe, and 135Xe e some of the fission products of both 235U and 239Pu
“Due to its long half-life and continued release from ongoing nuclear energy production, Iodine-129 is perpetually accumulating in the environment and poses a growing radiological risk,” the authors of a study at Dartmouth point out.
It is important to note that I-129 was already present before the Fukushima Daiichi accident owing to atmospheric nuclear testing held in the 1950s and 1960s, and later, discharge from spent-nuclear-fuel reprocessing plants.
Iodine-129 has leaked into groundwater at nuclear weapons production locations, including the Hanford Site in Washington State. Meanwhile, France and England — which produce large proportions of their electricity via nuclear power — are reprocessing spent fuel and disposing of vast quantities of iodine-129 simply by dumping it in the ocean.
Ocean disposal of iodine-129 appears to have resulted in massive increases of radionuclide concentrations. Currents carry the British and French iodine-129 northward, and a 2003 Danish study found concentrations in the Kattegat strait between Denmark and Sweden increased six fold between 1992 and 2000. Concentrations of iodine-129 in some Arctic waters are 4,000 times their pre-nuclear era levels.
“Over a third of children in Japan’s Fukushima region could be prone to cancer if medics don’t apply more effort in treating their unusually overgrown thyroid glands.” A report shows that nearly 36% of children in the nuclear-disaster-affected Fukushima Prefecture have abnormal thyroid growths. After examining more than 38,000 children from the area, medics found that more than 13,000 have cysts or nodules as large as 5 millimeters on their thyroids, the Sixth Report of Fukushima Prefecture Health Management Survey states.
The World Health Organization warns that young people are particularly prone to radiation poisoning in the thyroid gland. Infants face the direst consequences, as their cells divide at a higher rate.
A new study from the Radiation and Public Health Project found that babies born in the western United States as well as other Pacific countries shortly after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in March 2011 might be at greater risk for congenital hypothyroidism.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, "If untreated, congenital hypothyroidism can lead to intellectual disability and abnormal growth.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant released an enormous amount of liquid waste of Iodine 129 and other fission isotopes directly into the Pacific Ocean that were subsequently dispersed eastwards.
We have to take the threat of radioactive iodine seriously. Iodine supplementation is an absolute necessity, not only because we are deficient in this vital nutrient but also because, for the rest of our lives, we have to live in a radioactive iodine environment. Also with antibiotic resistant bacteria running wild, iodine is one of the few medicines we can turn to that bacteria will never become resistant to.