Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Don’t worry, Hawaii milk won’t contain boron
by Larry Geller
A letter signed from the Milk and Honey Farm, Pahoa, Big Island, Hawaii is spreading around the Internet with titles such as “Dairy Farmers fight radiation with Boron.”
Not to worry, your milk is not going to be contaminated with boron any time soon.
The letter begins:
An open letter from organic dairy farmers in Hawaii shows how to reduce radiation in milk and veggies.
“Boron is widely recognized as extremely safe and can be used to capture radioactivity on our soils, gardens, orchards, etc. It also can be safely ingested by humans and animals. Boron will accept radiation and ionize it within our bodies, after which our bodies will safely excrement the boron and radioactivity.”
First of all, it won’t work. Boron does absorb any stray neutron that comes its way, which is why isotopes of boron are used in control rods in nuclear reactors. But that’s all boron does, and in reactors, it emits an alpha particle. The alpha particle won’t feed the chain reaction that is the basis for operation of a nuclear reactor. It can also be used, if dumped as borax on top of a bunch of exposed fuel rods, to absorb some of the radiation so it won’t go into the air.
It does nothing for radiation emitters inside your body (or a cow’s). They just continue to emit, and maybe a neutron, if it finds some boron, will get absorbed. But iodine-131, for example, doesn’t emit neutrons.
Meanwhile, your body continues to get irradiated. In particular, the thyroid would absorb and concentrate radioactive iodine. Cesium 137, like Iodine 131, is a beta emitter and also emits hard gamma rays.
In any case, there does not seem to be enough radiation around to justify arbitrarily dosing cows with Borax. There is at least one paper that may relate to this, and it warns of the risks of using manure from cows dosed with borates.
I had not heard of the Milk and Honey Farm prior to the circulation of the letter.. Milk in Hawaii comes primarily from the Continent, unrefrigerated, and is re-pasteurized by Meadow Gold prior to distribution. The two local commercial dairies, one on the Big Island and one on Oahu, are regulated. According to the Department of Agriculture, those dairies will not be feeding Borax to their cows.
There are other situations where people get together to share milk from a privately owned cow, for example. Usually they want to have the opportunity of drinking raw milk, which they can do by forming a “hui” to share the milk among themselves. Of course, that has great risk, which is why milk is pasteurized to begin with. There’s no need to start a debate about that, only to know that the milk from those cows won’t find its way into your breakfast cereal.
Please support local agriculture. We enjoy the “Hawaii Fresh” brand, available from Kokua Market, Foodland, Whole Foods and elsewhere. It is pasteurized through a low-temperature process (not “ultra-pasteurized”) and retains its good, wholesome taste.
So I guess you are saying my pouring borax and milk on my cereal in the morning was a waste of time. :) Hey, in these crazy times sometimes we can do with a little humor.