Tritium in Us All


From Majia ‘s Blog:

Life on earth is becoming “tritiated” as the stable hydrogen in our water is replaced by an unstable isotope of hydrogen called Tritium:

Biello, David. (2014, February 7). Is Radioactive Hydrogen in Drinking Water a Cancer Threat? The EPA plans to reevaluate standards for tritium in water. Scientific American,

Such leaks have prompted the EPA to announce on February 4 plans to revisit standards for tritium that has found its way into water—so-called tritiated water, or HTO—along with risk limits for individual exposure to radiation and nuclear waste storage, among other issues surrounding nuclear power.

The agency’s recent announcement in the Federal Register notes that tritium levels as high as 3.2 million picocuries per liter (pCi/L) in ground water have been reported to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) at some nuclear facilities. (A curie is a unit of radiation emission; a picocurie is one trillionth of a curie.) That is 160 times higher than the standard set back in 1977 by the fledgling EPA—and the NRC has made measurements even higher at some nuclear facilities. “Because of these releases to groundwater at these sites, and related investigations, the agency considers it prudent to reexamine its initial assumption in 1977 that the water pathway is not a pathway of concern,” the EPA stated in its filing.

Tritium bioaccumulates in phytoplankton (which is composed of algae, protists and cyanobacteria) and has been consequently evaluated as posing a persistent and toxic contaminant with intergenerational effects. See the following source:

Jaeschke, B. C., & Bradshaw, C. (2013). Bioaccumulation of tritiated water in phytoplankton and trophic transfer of organically bound tritium to the blue mussel, mytilus edulis. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 115, 28-33. 

TEPCO is going to dump into the ocean 770,000 tons or so of highly tritiated water stored at Fukushima because the site has reached storage limits and yet still cannot filter tritium, among other elusive radionuclides, contaminating the 400 tons or so of radioactive water that is produced anew at the site every single day. 

Tepco has been struggling to de-contaminating the water it captures from injections and ground water influx. A wastewater treatment facility was built early in the disaster, but the various decontamination systems implemented have been unable to eliminate all radionuclides, especially tritium.[i] 

In 2013, TEPCO reported that filtered water measured 710 million Becquerels per liter while unfiltered water was reported as twice as radioactive.[ii] Tritium was believed to the major source of residual contamination in the filtered water.[iii] The filtration system has also accidentally dumped unfiltered water, contaminated with Cesium-134, Cesium-137, and Iodine-131, into the sea.[iv]

TEPCO admits it cannot manage the tritiated water stored at the site. No one talks at all about the tritiated fog produced every single night at Fukushima Daiichi:



Japan and US nuclear “authorities” are saying there is no alternative to dumping tritiated water in the ocean:

Nagata, Kazuaki (2015, March 31) Ex-U.S. nuclear chief says tritium water at Fukushima No. 1 can be dumped safely. Japan Times,

A former chief U.S. nuclear regulator asserted Tuesday that the massive volumes of tritium-tainted water stored at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant can be “safely” dumped into the sea after it is diluted to reduce the levels of radioactive tritium below the legal limit….   Tepco has said the level of tritium in the water is between 1 million and 5 million becquerels per liter. The legal limit for release to the sea is 60,000 becquerels.

Tritium has a half life of 12.3 years, so it would take decades to die down to permitted levels if left undiluted. The element is about one-thousandth as radioactive as the isotopes cesium-134 and cesium-137, according to Tepco.

TEPCO may have to dump because the tritiated water isn’t simply taking up space. Its also producing Bremsstrahlung Radiation.

Here is what the US Dept. of Health and Human Services has to say about this type of electro-magnetic radiation, which according to nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, among others, is being produced in Fukushima’s water tanks (see here

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Public Health Service Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (1999, September). TOXICOLOGICAL PROFILE FOR IONIZING RADIATION U.S. Division of Toxicology/Toxicology Information Branch 1600 Clifton Road NE, E-29 Atlanta, Georgia 30333 

Gamma radiation and x rays are types of electromagnetic radiations that behave identically but differ in their origin; gamma emissions originate in the nucleus while x rays originate in the orbital electron structure, or from the slowing down or stopping of highly energetic beta particles or electrons. The x rays that originate in the orbital structure are called characteristic x rays, and are useful in chemical analysis while those due to stopping high speed electrons are called bremsstrahlung. Page 41. 

GLOSSARY P. 337: Bremsstrahlung—Electromagnetic radiation (photons) produced by the acceleration that a fast charged particle (usually an electron) undergoes from the effect of an electric or magnetic field, for instance, from the field of another charged particle (usually a nucleus). Bremsstrahlung is emitted when beta particles or electrons are stopped by a shield.

Tritium is a beta emitter. The highly tritiated water stored at Fukushima Daiichi is decaying high energy electrons, or beta particles, whose interactions with shielding is producing a form of X-rays known as “breaking radiation” when translated from the German Bremsstrahlung.

The ocean and the atmosphere are becoming increasingly tritiated. Tritium was rare on earth before the atomic age according to Wikipedia, although found in the upper atmosphere.

What does it mean for the earth’s lower atmosphere and hydrology to become tritiated?

Tritium is entering the earth’s hydrological cycle according to this report by Canada’s Nuclear Regulator:



Source: Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada (2009, December). Investigation of the Environmental Fate of Tritium in the Atmosphere: Part of the Tritium Studies Project INFO-0792. Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). ISBN 978-1-100-13928-9

LET US LEARN ABOUT TRITIUM FROM THE US Environmental Protection Agency

How are people exposed to tritium?

People are exposed to small amounts of tritium every day, since it is widely dispersed in the environment and in the food chain. People who live near or work in federal weapons facilities or nuclear fuel cycle facilities may have increased exposure. People working in research laboratories may also come in contact with tritium.

How does tritium get into the body?

Tritium primarily enters the body when people swallow tritiated water. People may also inhale tritium as a gas in the air, and absorb it through their skin.

What does tritium do once it gets into the body?

Tritium is almost always found as water, or “tritiated” water. Once tritium enters the body, it disperses quickly and is uniformly distributed throughout the body. Tritium is excreted through the urine within a month or so after ingestion. Organically bound tritium (tritium that is incorporated in organic compounds) can remain in the body for a longer period.

Tritium atoms can exchange with any hydrogen atoms. If the hydrogen atom is part of an organic molecule, the tritium becomes ‘organically bound’ and is transported with the molecule rather than moving freely like water.


Health Effects of Tritium


As with all ionizing radiation, exposure to tritium increases the risk of developing cancer. However, because it emits very low energy radiation and leaves the body relatively quickly, for a given amount of activity ingested, tritium is one of the least dangerous radionuclides. Since tritium is almost always found as water, it goes directly into soft tissues and organs. The associated dose to these tissues are generally uniform and dependent on the tissues’ water content.

Tritium in us all….


[i] Yoshida ‘Fukushima No. 1 Can’t Keep its Head Above Tainted Water.’ Japan Times,, date accessed 21 May 2013

[ii] S. Kimura (6 April 2013) ‘120 Tons of Contaminated Water Leaks at Fukushima Nuclear Plant’, The Asahi Shimbun,, date accessed 7 April 2013.

[iii] Yoshida ‘Fukushima No. 1 Can’t Keep its Head Above Tainted Water.’

[iv] R. Mackey and R. Somaiya (1 November 2011) ‘Japanese Official Drinks Water From Fukushima Reactor Buildings’, The New York Times,, date accessed 3 November 2011.

Source :


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