Radiation and Tea in Japan


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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby veritas caute » Jan 6th, '13, 03:38

I appreciate all of the very useful information in this thread and on this site generally so I just want to thank everyone who has been contributing. With respect to the radiation content of our tea, I've had enough of the speculation. There is no way to know unless we actually test it. So that's exactly what I've done. I've submitted the following teas for radiological analysis:

O-Cha:
[1] Uji Gyokuro "Yume no Uki-hashi"

Yuuki-Cha:
[1] Organic Kagoshima Sencha Saemidori
[2] Organic Uji Gyokuro Gokou

This is where they are being analyzed: http://www.becquerellabs.com

I will have the certificates by Friday and will post the results. I'm a fan of both Kevin and Dan, my decision to test the tea does not reflect any mistrust. I just have to know.

Also, any vendors who are certain they can provide me with the highest quality fresh gyokuro and sencha with ZERO Bq/kg, I invite you to email me: veritas.caute@gmail.com - I order several hundred dollars or green tea per month. I'm looking for a long-term reliable source for confirmed uncontaminated tea.

Thanks
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby AdamMY » Jan 6th, '13, 13:11

Interesting. Looking forward to your results, and applaud you for going through the extra effort to check this.

Now I do not know how sensitive the labs equipment is, and I did not open the link, to look this up. But what if all the teas you test report some contamination due to highly sensitive equipment, but in terms of an effective dose it is basically zero, i.e less than that of a banana, and on par or even less than what people in Colorado ( or is it Utah?) put up with on a daily basis just for living where they live?

I believe, and may be confirmed by a few of the more scientifically inclined on the forum, that as radiation is basically everywhere ( though most people don't know it), if you get a sensitive enough machine, likely every single food product contains some radioactive elements. But again, this is where it falls into the "basically/virtually zero category."

I will of course be concerned if they show more significant amounts of radiation, when they have been claimed to have been completely clean.
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Chip » Jan 6th, '13, 14:31

Welcome to TeaChat!

Exactly, radiation is everywhere. So equipment sensitivity and settings are critical to obtaining real world results. In Japan they do take this into account. But an overzealous Western technician may not.

Testing is great, but testing is a double edged sword and there is a lot of room for misinformation, incorrect results, impropriety.

Please do not take this personally. I have some reservation about this test considering you are new to TeaChat ... and this was your first post ... and there are a lot of things we do not know about the testing (nor can we control).

Plus I would like to know some variables. How the tea was obtained, how was it opened and how was it measured and repackaged, what was it repackaged into to send to the lab? How big were the samples? Was cross contamination possible? Was sample contamination possible? How will the lab report its findings (for instance in Japan they test all teas for export and the tests are based upon bq/kilo of aracha which is a very conservative, consistant, and safe method) How was it shipped?

Would you be willing to have a report sent directly from the lab to a respected member of TeaChat?

Again, please do not take this personally, but there are so many variables and we honestly have never heard of you. You are anonymous on an internet forum. So there is a lot of room for ... unfairness.
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby veritas caute » Jan 6th, '13, 16:56

I totally understand (and definitely do not take it personally) that you'd want to verify the results of the test. I'm definitely willing to authorize the release of the results directly from the lab itself. They will be creating digital copies of the 3 certificates so I don't think they will have any trouble sending them out directly. My contact at the facility is Steven Simpson and he is the person who will be conducting the tests. With respect to the chain of custody, I forwarded the unopened tea packages as received from the sites I mentioned. The lab will be opening the bags and conducting the tests according to a strict set of protocols mandated by Canadian law. This particular lab was recommended to me by Health Canada after I explained all the facts. Health Canada actually outsources some of their milk monitoring to this particular lab (or so I was told) http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/contaminants/radiation/crmn-rcsr/who_we_are-qui_sommes_nous-eng.php

With respect to the issue of trace radioactivity, it's clearly unreasonable to expect food to be completely free from radiological contamination of any kind. I guess I should clarify that what I'm looking for is food that is "substantially free" from radiological contamination and that would require it to be absolutely free from radiological substances emitted from Fukushima. The folks at Health Canada pointed out that we will be able to ascertain whether the radiological contamination flowed from Fukushima by examining the ratio of cesium 134 to cesium 137. The tea should not have any c134 unless it has been contaminated by Fukushima's fallout directly. This is because the half-life of c-134 is less than 4 years and there has been no other source of c134 for at least 1 decade before the disaster.

So, for the purposes of remaining sane (to the extent that that's possible in the circumstances), if there is no c134 detected (absolute 0 bq/kg) and if the c137 is very low (less than 10bq/kg) I am going to take that as sufficient evidence that the samples have been unaffected by the disaster. The purpose of this test for me is to answer that question: is this tea affected by Fukushima. If the answer is no, then I'm happy to drink it.
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby veritas caute » Jan 6th, '13, 17:29

These are very important questions and I'm very glad that you asked. The answers are as follows:

How the tea was obtained:
Via web-order from each vendor. They both arrived via express post from Japan directly to my office.

how was it opened:
I did not open the tea packages themselves at all. That would have compromised the legitimacy of the test. They are all in their original air-tight containers and have been forwarded to the facility in the original packaging.

how was it measured and repackaged:
It has not yet been measured. The facility has to follow strict protocols or they can't legally certify the tea. In order to establish chain of custody for the certification, they have to open the original packages at the facility itself. They agreed to ship my tea back to me after the test and I assume they will put it into zip-lock bags once they open the original packs and test it.

what was it repackaged into to send to the lab?
It was never opened and was sent to the lab in the exact form in which it was received.
How big were the samples?
100 gram packages for the O-cha gyokuro and Yuuki-Cha Sencha. the Yuuki-Cha gyokuro came in 50 gram packages so I sent 2 because the test requires around 100 grams. I did not open any of the packages.
Was cross contamination possible?
No.
Was sample contamination possible?
No.
How will the lab report its findings
They will generate printed and electronic certificates. They will send the printed certificates back to me with the tea and they will be e-mailing me pdf versions of the certificates immediately after the tests are complete.

How was it shipped?
I sent the packages as received via purolator ground to the lab.
Would you be willing to have a report sent directly from the lab to a respected member of TeaChat?

Yes, absolutely. Even better, I will authorize the lab to send out the certificates upon request directly so that there is no chance for the results to be manipulated or obscured in any way.

I do want to point out that internal sources of radiation are not comparable to external sources when it comes to cancer. If you ingest a hot particle it will bombard you from inside until it burns itself out. That bombardment will be local and the affected cells sustain cumulative damage that is much more dangerous than I think most people realize. Moreover, alpha-radiation is the most dangerous sort. Externally, it's almost a non-issue because they cannot penetrate even a piece of paper. When ingested, however, you have an extremely serious problem. The goal is to keep the radiation out of your body. So comparisons with background radiation are nonsensical. Absorbed dose from an external emitter is a totally different scenario than the ingestion of an external emitter leading to cumulative damage from an internal source.
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Chip » Jan 6th, '13, 18:26

OK ... thank you for not taking this personally ... and for replying thoroughly. Of course, I am certain we are all hoping for the best report possible! :idea: I would be very interested in receiving a report directly from the lab.

The only question that remains is your identity. This is a part of the equation. You may be the most sincere individual on the planet ... or you could have an ax to grind with one or both vendors. Or you could be someone with a anti nuclear power political agenda. Who knows. It is a variable.
However, I do not expect you to give your name, rank and serial number on an internet forum.

You have apparently invested a significant amount of TeaBucks in this testing. For this we should be thankful.

Therefore, if results are positive, I will endeavor to co-sponsor a second round of verifiable testing. Vendor(s), teas, lab, etc. TBD at that time. Hmm, to be fair, perhaps regardless of the results, a second round should take place. Tea being sold internationally from Shizuoka would be of great interest to many tea drinkers.

We all want the same thing, ultimately. Tea that is not only safe to drink, but tea that we know is safe to drink. :mrgreen:
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby veritas caute » Jan 6th, '13, 21:47

While I am not comfortable identifying myself in the public part of the forum (I don't know many people that would be), I have no problem at all with doing so via PM. With respect to ulterior motives or conflicts of interest, there really are none. And, as I said, I have no problem at all with any vendor. I have only positive things to say about Yuuki-cha, O-Cha and Tea Trekker.

I'm really just trying to give back a little bit to a community that has helped me discover various types of green tea that I truly enjoy.

The cost of the test was 320$ (80$ per sample tested and the rest is shipping and tax), so it certainly was not free. Sharing the expense of future tests would definitely be something I'd want to do. As long as the testing facility is legitimate and the chain-of-cutody can be verified then I'm more than happy to contribute to the next test. I would also encourage those conducting private tests to share that information.

I'm not willing to continue to avoid Japanese tea if there is a reasonable alternative. This is the best way to avoid unhelpful speculation, ensure peace of mind, and enjoy fantastic tea. If any of the vendors read this and would be willing to work with us 'radiophobes', it would be greatly appreciated.

I just would not be able to enjoy tea if I did not know with reasonable certainty that it was not radioactive. There are thousands of tonnes of confirmed radioactive tea that is unmerchantable from 2011 in Japan and the farmers are hurting very badly. The practice of blending is common and there is an argument to be made that up to 500 bq/kg may never cause actual harm. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that this tea will find its way from Japan to us. Or the tea could be contaminated and no one may know. Whatever. The risks are there. And while I am not qualified to speak to whether 500bq/kg will actually give any of us cancer in some 30 years or so... it's a real risk that I don't have to take.

The rational thing to do for those of us who are very concerned about radiological safety AND who would rather not live without Japanese tea is to conduct our own tests. It is cheaper if we cooperate and if you perform tests independently, you ought to share that information so that others can make informed choices. It's the right thing to do. So, to that end, let's work together.
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Chip » Jan 6th, '13, 22:09

PM sent. 8)
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby veritas caute » Jan 9th, '13, 08:32

Radiation detected in Kagoshima at 80bq/kg tea exceeding the levels in Shizuoka 40bq/kg.

http://enenews.com/radioactive-tea-leav ... -kagoshima

That's unbelievable. Nothing reported yet that I've heard about from Uji but, quite frankly, if c134 has made its way to Kyushu and affected tea then there ought to be a presumption of contamination for all of Japan and even beyond.

That's over 1,000 kms against prevailing winds. Uji is less than 200km from Shizuoka.

You ought to avoid untested tea.

FYI: I was very strongly of the view that it was silly to think anything on Kyushu would be affected. I was wrong. Still waiting (very impatiently) for my test results.
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Chip » Jan 9th, '13, 13:49

Not sure why the report repeatedly mentions 10 Bq/Kilo when supposedly the legal limit is 100 per kilo of Aracha, USA's general limit is 1000. 100 was put into place in April of 2012. Previously it was 500.

There is some mention of the 10 Bq/kilo mentioned, but it is not for aracha.

Where specifically in Shizuoka, Kagoshima were these results found? The exclusion of critical pieces of information is exasperating.

I am not banking on that report alone obviously. They may have tested 100's of gardens and are reporting only one. I do not know obviously since the report is vague.
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Chip » Jan 9th, '13, 15:59

Keeping things a bit in perspective ... and reading up again on this topic.

The new and very stringent legal limit for processed ARACHA for export in 100 bq/kilo of ARACHA. So, it is somewhat safe to extrapulate that actual sorted sencha would be somewhat limited to this amount as well. Aracha is where sencha is directly derived.

The 10 bq mentioned covers other things. There are other limits for instance for milk and drinking water. Many of these things are consumed whole, ingested in its measured state. You drink milk, you get it all ... so to speak. So obviously the standard will be much lower.

The limits are what is considered to be very safe. They are likely the most stringent worldwide and likely due in part to earlier reporting "issues" in Japan in 2011. I interpreted the new and more stringent guidelines to be an announcement to the world that they screwed up early on, but from the new guidelines moving forward, they were setting the bar at very safe levels.

.....................

Keep in mind, I am not a nuclear scientist. I am "just a country teaman." So, as I studied this in the past and now, my interpretations are those of simply a lay person. But I made it my business in 2011 to learn as much as time permitted and from a tea focused perspective.

I am again refocusing on this topic ...

I will offer some "tea for thought" posts as this topic has again potentially gaining spotlight here. You may or may not agree with my thoughts or interpretations ... and keep in mind, I want safe tea as much as anyone.
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Chip » Jan 9th, '13, 16:17

Hopefully teas will test at "not detected" levels or trace. Every test I have seen so far for 2012 has indicated "Not detected." However I have heard reports from Warashina in Shizuoka that were above the new legal limits, though I cannot find any actual reports to verify this.

Warashina was most notable for me personally in 2011 when it tested above the then legal limit of 500 bq/kilo. Sadly, Warashina produces some outstanding teas but they are pretty much off the menu ... not even considered an option at this time.

But say a tea tests at 50 bq/kilo. This would mean that 100 grams (just under 1/4 pound) would contain 5 bq. For a fairly typical 5 gram serving, this is .05 bq.

And except for Matcha or if you eat the gyokuro leaves at the end of a session, you are not ingesting the actual leaf. How much radiation actually leaches out into the actual tea? I have read it is not very water soluble, but do not quote me on this.

So, after going though a 100 gram bag of this 5 bq sencha ... how much radiation is actualy consumed? And is this a realistic cause for concern?
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Chip » Jan 9th, '13, 16:25

Now it gets tricky for me ... how does the bq. equate or relate to millirems? This is primary to know and understand. Millirems are established units used to measure consumed radiation over time ... and we all consume radiation in various forms. For an average person living in the USA, this is averages to around 360 millirems. And there are charts for comparison of sources of consumed radiation.

Keep in mind, radiation can be consumed in food we eat or air we breath of are simply exposed to.

I have read the definitions for both ... but I have not read any report so far that says if you actually consume a whole kilo of say a vegetable containing 50 bq/kilo, how will this measurably affect your personal millirems?

Can someone enighten me, us?
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Chip » Jan 9th, '13, 17:00

Continuing to read ... the conversions from one unit of measure to another are not simple. First you have to understand the measuring units. Then all the milli, micro, etc. And the conversion equivalent.

Where we seem to use the rem, it appears more acceptable to use the sievert.

And then there is the factor of time.

Oh my ...
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Re: Radiation and Tea in Japan

Postby Chip » Jan 9th, '13, 17:15

I am not going to post my lay calculations as I am likely making a mistake along the way.

PLEASE! However, hopefully we have somene trained in this realm to a degree who is willing to help us out? THANK YOU!

For any trained individuals, a simple question or questions would be ... based upn consumption over the period of 1 year (answered in millirems and sievert equivalent would be desirable):

Actual ingestion 1 kilo of 50 bq/kilo?
Drinking of tea from 1 kilo of 50 bq/kilo (I am assuming a less than 100% leach rate)?
Actual ingestion 1 kilo 250 bq/kilo?
Drinking of tea from 1 kilo of 250 bq/kilo (I am assuming a less than 100% leach rate)?
Actual ingestion of 500 bq/kilo?
Drinking of tea from 1 kilo of 500 bq/kilo (I am assuming a less than 100% leach rate)?

Is this then linear if we eat (or drink) 2 kilos, 3 kilos, etc?
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