Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Research into muttonbird exposure to Fukushima radiation

New funding for research into muttonbird exposure to Fukushima radiation

Scientists from the University of Auckland will undertake research to test whether New Zealand muttonbirds that spend the winter off the coast of Japan may have been exposed to radiation from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Scientists from the University of Auckland will undertake research to test whether New Zealand muttonbirds that spend the winter off the coast of Japan may have been exposed to radiation from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The new research is being funded by the Lottery Health Research fund with $26,028 for a pilot study to investigate whether radioactive cesium has entered the New Zealand ecosystem or food chain via the birds.

Researchers will test the birds’ feathers for gamma rays that indicate the presence of the radioactive isotope cesium-134. Feathers will be collected from prime muttonbird sites in the South Island, particularly Stewart Island.

New Zealand sooty shearwaters or titi (Puffinus griseus) migrate annually, spending the summer mating and raising their chicks in New Zealand before over-wintering off the coast of Japan.

“There is no evidence to indicate that the birds have been vectors of radioactivity so this research is very much about taking a precautionary approach,” says Dr David Krofcheck of the University of Auckland’s Department of Physics.

“But detection of gamma rays would tell us whether the birds spend sufficient time near Fukushima to accumulate cesium-134 from nuclear fission. Obviously the issue would then become whether that radioactivity is being absorbed into local ecosystems or the food chain.”

Pacific Bluefin tuna caught off the west coast of the United States show only a minute trace of cesium-134 from Fukushima, 100 times less than normal radioactive elements found in fish.

The sooty shearwater is of cultural and economic value to Maori, who sustainably harvest the nearly fledged chicks during the annual muttonbird season. The season runs from April to May and is restricted to Maori and their whanau who use the birds for food, oil and feather down.

Dr Krofcheck says consultation with Maori, the Rakiura Titi Islands Administering Body, about the research will begin as soon as possible.

“We will need to go through a number of approval processes and engage in consultation with local people before anything can happen as there are sensitive issues to consider before work can begin,” Dr Krofcheck says.

The research is being done in collaboration with the Department of Zoology, University of Otago.

Previous tests on muttonbird exposure to radiation from Fukushima found no evidence of cesium being passed from parents to chicks.

“Our study is complementary to that earlier work but tests feathers instead of the birds themselves,” Dr Krofcheck says. “Obviously what we are hoping to find in this latest research is that cesium levels in muttonbirds do not exceed exposure levels you would expect from natural sources.”

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Watch This Space: Mahia Rocket Lab Launch Site Officially Opened

Economic Development Minster Steven Joyce today opened New Zealand’s first orbital launch site, Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1, on the Mahia Peninsula on the North Island’s east coast. More>>

Earlier:

Marketing Rocks!
Ig Nobel Award Winners Assess The Personality Of Rocks

A Massey University marketing lecturer has received the 2016 Ig Nobel Prize for economics for a research project that asked university students to describe the “brand personalities” of three rocks. More>>

ALSO:

Nurofen Promotion: Reckitt Benckiser To Plead Guilty To Misleading Ads

Reckitt Benckiser (New Zealand) intends to plead guilty to charges of misleading consumers over the way it promoted a range of Nurofen products, the Commerce Commission says. More>>

ALSO:

Half A Billion Accounts, Including Xtra: Yahoo Confirms Huge Data Breach

The account information may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords (the vast majority with bcrypt) and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers. More>>

ALSO:

Rural Branches: Westpac To Close 19 Branches, ANZ Looks At 7

Westpac confirms it will close nineteen branches across the country; ANZ closes its Ngaruawahia branch and is consulting on plans to close six more branches; The bank workers union says many of its members are nervous about their futures and asking ... More>>

Interest Rates: RBNZ's Wheeler Keeps OCR At 2%

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler kept the official cash rate at 2 percent and said more easing will be needed to get inflation back within the target band. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news