Jay Cullen and Ken Buesseler present their latest data at the Vancouver Aquarium.

“It has engaged people in ways that even surprised me,” said Buesseler of the crowdsourcing model. “We’ve reached a wide range of people who had this concern that wasn’t being addressed, and that’s what we’re most proud of.”

Kai Vetter, a professor of nuclear engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, and Steve Manley, a professor of biology recently retired from California State University, Long Beach, run KelpWatch, a campaign focused on testing the radionuclide uptake of kelp. Though their test results have all come back negative, Vetter and Manley have been adamant about publishing them.

“One of the reasons we continue our measurements is to continue to inform the public about the radiation in the world around us,” Vetter said.

Transparency, they have found, is the best way to combat fear. Even after four and a half years, the questions continue to roll in. For everyone from surfers and swimmers to moms planning vacations, the fear of radiation seems to have a much longer half-life than the particles themselves.

In North America, Vetter said, “The biggest health impact from Fukushima has been the psychological impact.”

Photo credit: Bryce Bradford/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND)

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