As detailed in the study, Measurement of Natural and Artificial Radioactivity in Infant Powdered Milk and Estimation of the Corresponding Annual Effective Dose, researchers from the University of Malaya (Malaysia), the University of Surrey (UK), and the King Saud University (Saudi Arabia), measured radionuclide levels in infant formula products sold in Malaysia.
Levels of radium, thorium, potassium and caesium-137 were determined in 14 products manufactured in countries around the world, including Malaysia (Dulac, Dutch Baby), Thailand (Enfalac, Sustagen), the Philippines (Lactogen, Nan Pro), the Netherlands (Frisolac), Spain (Similac), Singapore (S26 SMA Gold) and New Zealand (Anmum, Bebelac, Mamex, Kariholme).
Caesium-137, an artificial radionuclide formed by nuclear fission, was “virtually not detected in most of the brands investigated,” the study reads.
“It shows that although the sampled infant milk brands are mostly produced in the countries within the vicinity of Japan where the recent Fukushima nuclear accident occurred, the obtained results indicate that 137Cs is virtually not present in the powdered infant milk, which also suggests less impact of the recent nuclear accident on the neighbouring environments or country of origin of the investigated milk brands," the study reads.
Levels were higher, however, than those obtained during tests on European milk consumed in Nigeria 10 years after the 1986 Chernobyl accident.
Limited data on radioactivity
According to the study, published in the journal Environmental Engineering Science, limited data exists on the radioactivity levels in infant formula.
Researchers, led by Onosohwo Bemigho Uwatse from the University of Malaya, prepared 28 samples - two per brand. Y-ray spectrometry was then used to determine the radioactivity of the samples.
The highest radionuclide concentrations were found in S26 SMA Gold.
Low levels of radioactivity were, meanwhile, found in Lactogen.
In general, however, values were lower than the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO), and International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) recommended limit of 1.0 millisieverts (mSv) per year for all ages.
Radioactivity levels in infant formula may vary depending on several factors, including radioactivity in the soil, grass or hay cows were fed, in other raw materials used in processing, or due to processing conditions.
"The data reported here might be useful to establish a baseline for natural and artificial radioactivity in milk and help develop future guidelines in the country for radiological protection for the relevant population," the study concluded.
Source: Environmental Engineering Science doi:10.1089/ees.2015.0114
Title: Measurement of Natural and Artificial Radioactivity in Infant Powdered Milk and Estimation of the Corresponding Annual Effective Dose
Authors: U Bemigho, O Adekunle, K Uddin, A Mohd, D Bradley, M Alkhorayef, K Alzimami