Good Gaia!

From The New York Times:


Payoff for Efficient Cars Takes Years


DETROIT — Ed Moran’s new Toyota Prius was programmed by the dealer to make him feel good about his gas savings. A dashboard display compares the fuel consumption of the Prius and his 2001 Ford pickup truck.

“Every time I go to the store it will tell me how much money I saved,” said Mr. Moran, a horticulturist in Ames, Iowa.

Like more and more Americans, Mr. Moran is looking to a fuel-efficient car to help soften the financial blow of ever higher gas prices.

Shoppers have more options than ever to fight back, including hybrids, plug-ins, electric vehicles and “eco” or “super fuel economy” packages.

But opting for models that promise better mileage through new technologies does not necessarily save money, according to data compiled for The New York Times by TrueCar.com, an automotive research Web site.

More at the link. But, unsurprisingly, the additional cost of the technology to cut gasoline consumption outweighs the amount that one will save on gasoline. Save for just a few vehicles — the Prius and Lincoln MKZ, and the diesel-powered Volkswagen Jetta TDI — the additional costs are so high that it takes so long to break even that the average driver will have traded in his vehicle before he reaches the break even point. In some cases, the break even point is over a decade after purchase, compared to similar models equipped with just an internal combustion engine. The article continues to note that this is true whether gasoline is $4.00 a gallon (close to the current average) or even $5.00 a gallon; the break even point doesn’t get to be reasonable until gasoline costs are figured at $8.00 a gallon.

The Prius C and the Lincoln all do well, achieving break-even at around two years, but many others are several years into the future. And, humorously enough, the Chevy Volt could take up to 27 years to reach break-even. The Dolt Volt becomes competitive when gasoline gets to $12.50 a gallon, while the all-electric Nissan Leaf makes sense when gasoline reaches $8.53 per gallon.1

The Chevrolet Volt is an absolutely great car . . . for your neighbor to buy. For yourself, not so much.
_________________________

  1. The Volt has a small gasoline engine to recharge the batteries when they are getting low on charge; the Leaf is completely electric.

43 Comments

  1. If Obama gets away with making Americans buy health insurance what’s to prevent him from making them buy Re-Volts, or broccoli, or round-trip tickets to Timbuktu?

  2. I read about these so-called cars yesterday. I’ve driven the Volt and reported to you guys before my thoughts, it’s a rat. But understand, I’m a car guy. Always have been and always will be. To me a car is more than point A to point B, it’s a friend, a statement, a joyful relaxation. Electrics and hybrids just don’t light my jets. But that’s jut me and being a conservative I think if someone wants one of those crappy little things then more poer to them. As long as I can buy what I like, who’s stopping them? Oh, as long as I through my tax money does not have to subsidize their purchase since I don’t ask them to subsidize mine.

  3. Well allow me to give you some details before you folks get embarrassed:

    I have a 5 year old (2007) Toyota Highlander Hybrid with almost 60,000 miles on it. It gets at least 25 mpg. At $3.50 per gallon, my gas bill is $8,400.

    This vehicle replaced my 1997 Ford Expedition, which got 13 mpg. At the same 60,000 miles and $3.50 mpg, my gas bill would have been would have been about $16,154.

    Therefore, for gas cost alone, I saved $7,754.

    At purchase I paid about $4K more for the hybrid model than I would have paid for a vehicle without the hybrid feature.

    Therefore, I have already more than paid back the additional cost of the hybrid in gasoline purchase savings.

    Moreover, and important to me as well, I emitted about half the CO2 which I would have emitted with the Expedition.

    Besides, except for replacing the tires and the battery, I have not had one manufacturing defect in this vehicle, not even one!

    Being an SUV with fold down rear seats, I can fit a 4×8 sheet of plywood in it, and with the front seat folded down, I can easily fit a 10 foot length of 4×4 or whatever.

    On top of all that, it is a comfortable, precise vehicle to drive, and it looks very nice as well.

    PS: It has an in-dash GPS, leather seats, moon roof, superb climate control, tinted windows, and lots more. Without a doubt, this is the finest vehicle I have ever owned.

    PPS: I have a decal on the left rear window which says: “Democrats Care”. That about rounds it all out for me!

  4. Wagonwheel, how much you want to bet a 2007 Corvette gets better gas mileage than a 1997 Corvette? Your anecdote doesn’t hold up because your starting point is flawed. Any half-way decent statistician could tell you that.

  5. We had this very discussion two years and four days ago, on the ancient site:

    Looking at Perry’s Toyota Highlander Hybrid, it gets better fuel mileage in town than the Toyota Highlander, non hybrid, 27 MPG vs 20 MPG, but worse mileage on the highway, 25 MPG vs 27 MPG, I assume because it has to carry around the additional weight of the batteries. The hybrid also costs $34,900 vis a vis $25,855 for the non-hybrid.

    Let’s assume you drive 100,000 miles, with 60,000 of that being city mileage and 40,000 being highway. Assuming the gasoline costs $3.00 a gallon, you will burn 1,600 gallons in the hybrid and 1,480 in the standard, on the highway; your costs will be $360 more in the hybrid for the 40,000 miles of highway driving. For the 60,000 miles of city driving, you will save $2,334 in the hybrid. (2,222 gallons/$6,999 compared to 3,000 gallons/$9,000) Your total savings for 100,000 miles will be $1,974. But the cost difference between the hybrid and standard models is $9,045. Assuming that gasoline remains a constant $3.00 a gallon, and the highway/city mileage ratio remains 40/60, you would have to drive 458,200 miles in the hybrid just to break even. Heck, if you assume the wholly unrealistic scenario of the entire 100,000 miles being city miles, your fuel savings would be $3,889 ($11,111 vs $15,000), or still far less than the price difference for the vehicles!

    The federal government used to have tax credits for the purchase of hybrids, but the last thing I could find shows that the tax credits for Highlanders have expired. The highest single credit I could find was for the Ford Fusion, at $3,400, but it was being cut; the cost difference between the hybrid and standard versions of the Highlander are thrice the tax credit.

    Simply put, it costs a lot more to drive a hybrid!

    This would be an apples-to-apples comparison, the same vehicle, with the only differences being between the hybrid and the straight gasoline engine. A 1997 Ford Expedition is not a comparable vehicle to a Toyota Highlander; the Expedition is a significantly larger, heavier vehicle.

    I have absolutely no objection to people buying what they wish: if WW wants to buy a hybrid, well, it’s his money, so he can do what he wishes with it. If someone wants to buy a Nissan Leaf or a Chevy Dolt, it’s perfectly fine with me: his money, his choice. But he should realize that it is going to cost him more money initially, and he isn’t going to recoup his savings for a long time, and quite possibly will not before he gets rid of the vehicle.

    However, while I have absolutely no objection to someone buying a hybrid or an electric car with his own money, I do object, strongly, to someone buying himself a hybrid or electric car with my money. I very much object to government subsidies for hybrid or electric vehicles, for insulating your home, or anything else along those lines. We should not be subsidizing people’s personal and economic choices, period!

  6. “This would be an apples-to-apples comparison, the same vehicle, with the only differences being between the hybrid and the straight gasoline engine. “

    Mr Editor, the apples to apples comparison you did is not germane to my situation, which was the decision to purchase my Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited in 2007 to replace my 1997 Ford Expedition. While you might quarrel with the $3.50/gal gasoline price I chose, my latest calculation here was based on reality, that is, 13 mpg for the Expedition, and 25 mpg for the Hybrid.

    Oh yes, I forgot to include the $1,900 tax credit I got for t/y 2007, so that enhances my case for my current vehicle.

    Your calculation, Mr Editor, is valid for someone trying to decide whether to put the extra money into purchasing a hybrid versus the non-hybrid. In addition to calculating the fuel saving dollars, as you did, there would be folks like myself who would take into account the reduced CO2 emissions as a bonus as well for the hybrid.

    I also note that the cost difference for the hybrid compared to the non-hybrid is now greater than it was in 2007, now $8,450 for the Limited, compared to $4,000 $4,500 (memory error) for the Limited in 2007. I don’t understand that. Moreover, the sticker price has gone up from about $39.5 K in 2007, to $44.2 K.

    For my personal situation, 1997 Ford Expedition –> 2007 Toyota Hybrid Limited, I have saved lots of money for fuel, and have emitted a lot less CO2. I’m happy with that!

  7. Sounds like Wagonwheel is very happy with his Highlander. I’m not supprised. A guy at the Club has one, though not a hybred, and he loves his too. And although as the Editor pointed out, comparing a Highlander hybrid to a ten year older Expedition is apples to oranges at least WW put his money where his mouth is.

    Now I have a few observations. First, since electrics and hybrids pollute less which is an environmental as well as a health issue, and since they use less gas which is a national security issue, shouldn’t we all be forced to drive electrics and hybrids?

    Second, since electrics and hybrids use less fuel the government collects less in fuel tax. Shouldn’t owners of electrics and hybrids be charged a “non-consumption” tax for the taxes they are avoiding by driving said vehicles? After all they use the same infrastructure as the rest of us yet legally avoid paying their fair share of infrastructure taxes.

  8. The question is, why does SINP even need an SUV, hybrid or not? Why not get something smaller and more efficient?

    Yet another example of SINP’s hypocrisy. He doesn’t really care about the environment. His personal comfort comes first and foremost … just like the biggest enviro-hypocrite of them all, Al Gore.

  9. Now, now Koolo. I don’t needan SUV but I have a 2012 Lincoln MKX. Actually, I got it for my wife. She had a 2010 and loved it so I just replaced it with a new color. Frankly, I like her in it because it’s big and I believe safer for her. Remember, she’s Asian, ever see an Asian woman drive? It still eacapes me how they give driver licenses to people you can blindfold with dental floss. ( I can say that being married to one )

  10. ” I forgot to include the $1,900 tax credit I got for t/y 2007, so that enhances my case for my current vehicle.”

    Wait a minute! You got a tax credit like an evil oil company? Why? How come you get a tax credit for buying a Japanese car and I don’t buying an American car? Is our government subsidizing Japan now too?

  11. You can drive what you wish, Hoagie, as you’re not in here screaming and hollering about global warming as “settled science” and the impending apocalypse if we all don’t change our ways NOW. It’s SINP that does that — yet he drives an unnecessary SUV. Why doesn’t he downsize to a vehicle that gets 40 mpg? What about a Smart Car? What possible need does a persona of his advanced age need with such a vehicle?

  12. He may be advanced in age Koolo, but apparantly he hauls a lot of 4×8 plywood and 10 foot 4×4′s. Hell, the only thing that hits the back of the Lincoln is my wife’s gym bag when she goes to LA Fitness. Oh, occasionally when she goes to the Korean market to get kim-chee fixins there may be a few bags but I do all the American food shopping so I use my car.

  13. “Now I have a few observations. First, since electrics and hybrids pollute less which is an environmental as well as a health issue, and since they use less gas which is a national security issue, shouldn’t we all be forced to drive electrics and hybrids?”

    That is actually a very good question, Hoagie. As fuel efficiency standards are increased in response to a diminishing supply of oil and our world-wide climate change problem, we might eventually end up being forced to drive electric vehicles and hybrids, and eventually to pedal bicycles (just kidding?).

    “Second, since electrics and hybrids use less fuel the government collects less in fuel tax. Shouldn’t owners of electrics and hybrids be charged a “non-consumption” tax for the taxes they are avoiding by driving said vehicles? After all they use the same infrastructure as the rest of us yet legally avoid paying their fair share of infrastructure taxes.”

    That’s an interesting question too! Maintaining our infrastructure is actually one of the most critical functions of government, therefore any critical shortfall will have to be made up from revenue source. Other than that, I don’t know how to answer your question in more detail.

  14. You know I was just funnin’ with you Wagonwheel. I don’t care what car you or anyone else drives, it’s your choice. And the reasons that have you make that choice are fine too. Whether it’s environment, fuel savings, cost, ride, handling, speed, safety or just plain looks what attracts you to a car is personal just like what attracts you to a woman. But as I said, I love cars and love driving. I hate to see one of the little pleasures in life politicized. I don’t car if it’s a Hummer or a Smart, it’s a mans free choice.

  15. Funny Wagonwheel. It’s 10:18 and Fox News is just about to run a report on how green driving is causing tax shortfalls and now they’re considering a “milage tax” to close the gap.

  16. WW wrote:

    Your calculation, Mr Editor, is valid for someone trying to decide whether to put the extra money into purchasing a hybrid versus the non-hybrid. In addition to calculating the fuel saving dollars, as you did, there would be folks like myself who would take into account the reduced CO2 emissions as a bonus as well for the hybrid.

    That’s the only fair comparison; you bought a 2007 Highlander, replacing a ten year old vehicle; that’s greater than the normal new car trade-in time average. The proper comparison for you would have been what you would have bought had you bought something else to replace the Expedition.

    Oh yes, I forgot to include the $1,900 tax credit I got for t/y 2007, so that enhances my case for my current vehicle.

    It sounds to me that you aren’t carrying the billionaire, but he is carrying you.

    But, more than the billionaire, it sounds like the everyday working man is carrying you. While I don’t know your income, it’s clear that you aren’t poor. If you could afford a new Toyota Highlander in 2007, then you weren’t exactly struggling with making ends meet. Yet you got a $1,900 tax credit from Uncle Sugar, even though you are (probably) wealthier than average. We shouldn’t be doing this!

    I have problems with the idea of welfare for the poor, but at least I can understand the sympathy many people have for them, because they are poor. But the subsidy you got is welfare for the well-to-do, and that’s totally wrong by any standard.

  17. Boy, talk about Gaia. I saw my wife earlier walking around the back fourty and figured she was out for a constitutioal on a beautiful sunny morning. Well, I just went up to get a cup of coffee and she’s at the dining room table with a huge platter of dandilions. She picked the back lawn clean and is now making Korean dandilion soup. Talk about cutting food costs, we’re eating our lawn for heaven sake!

  18. I wonder if we’re gonna get busted by the FDA for not having our dandilions inspected and interfering with interstate transport of dandilion soup under the Commerce Clause?

  19. Hoagie asked:

    First, since electrics and hybrids pollute less which is an environmental as well as a health issue, and since they use less gas which is a national security issue, shouldn’t we all be forced to drive electrics and hybrids?

    But they really don’t use any less energy, and may use more: note that the Highlander Hybrid gets worse gas mileage on the highway; that’s because it has the added weight of the battery pack to haul around. And that’s going to be true with any hybrid, because batteries are very heavy.

    And every plug-in vehicle is still using energy. It may be the coal being burned at the power plant instead of gasoline, but it’s still energy being produced, and that means pollution. Does it really matter if the car is emitting CO2 from the tailpipe, or the car us using electricity from a power plant, which is emitting CO2 from the smokestack?

    However, there is a corresponding loss of efficiency as electricity is transmitted over distance, 6.5% in the US in 2007. The power plant has to generate more electricity than a Nissan Leaf actually uses, because some is lost during the transmission of electricity from the power plant to the substation, and from the substation to your house. We might use less gasoline if we all went to electric cars, but we’d see a huge increase in demand for electricity, which means more fuel used there.

  20. Hoagie wrote:

    She picked the back lawn clean and is now making Korean dandilion soup. Talk about cutting food costs, we’re eating our lawn for heaven sake!

    I thought that June was from South Korea, not the North. We all know that the North Koreans have to eat grass and acorns, but I thought that people in the South were better fed. :)

  21. Actually Editor, my point was that if healthcare is so important that every single person from prenatal to poast mortem should be forced to buy it, then by that standard if the environment and our health from pollutants is so important we should be forced to buy electric vehicles. I mean if the government can force us to buy one product, why not another and another and another…..?

    But what do I know? I’m having my lawn for lunch. But first I’m off to buy Easter dinner at Giant.

  22. “We all know that the North Koreans have to eat grass and acorns, but I thought that people in the South were better fed.”

    Ahh, but you must remember Grasshopper, my wife was born in 1952. She’s a Korean War baby. Back then even the South had no food. Don’t you remember as a kid giving donations to “The Battle Scared Koreans” at school? Now her daughter would no more pick dandilions than sit on the kitchen floor making kim-chee for two days. The daughter buys kim-chee in a jar and eats Sonic burgers and pizza.

  23. One more thing before I go shopping. One of the Koreans favorite foods, I mean they fry it in soy sauce and sesame oil, slice it into soups, eat it as an appetizer and batter it and tempura it is…….SPAM! That too is left over fom the war. Between the food donations shipped to Korea from America and the GI’s giving them their rations, the Koreans actually developed a fondness for SPAM. I can’t get June to eat Scrapple or Taylor Pork Roll but we must have at least ten cans of SPAM in the pantry. Go figure!

  24. No, by the time I was in school, it was all of the starving children in India . . . or, at least, that was about whom I was supposed to think when my mother insisted that I had to finish all of my food.

    Let’s see, you are a tremendous cook and restaurateur, but your pantry at home is full of Spam®? Good Gaia, don’t let anyone else know!

    As for eating scrapple, when I first moved up amongst you Yankees, the guys at work insisted that I had to try scrapple. As nearly as I could figure out, scrapple was made from the floor sweepings at the slaughter house, but it was (apparently) not actually fatal. So, one Saturday morning, we all went to this breakfast restaurant off of US 13 south of Wilmington, and I tried the scrapple. I noticed that everyone else was burying theirs in ketchup, and it was soon apparent why: the stuff really hasn’t got much (good) flavor of its own.

    One of the real treats in my life was, when our older daughter was graduated from Basic Combat Training at Fort Jackson, we went down to South Carolina, and got some real, Southern cooking again.

    Our younger daughter did her Advanced Individual Training at Fort Gordon, Georgia, and she said the food was great. The DFAC (dining facility) was staffed by a bunch of 300+ lb black women, and as any true Southerner knows, they are the best cooks in the world. Every so often, some of them would make special buttermilk biscuits at home and bring them into the DFAC (which is probably some sort of health code violation, so don’t tell anyone!), and she said that they were a little slice of heaven.

    The best place I ever ate was a hole-in-the-wall diner called Loretta’s Corner Kitchen, in Lexington, Kentucky, run by another of those 300 lb black women. A friend took me in there, and I think I was the first white guy to walk in the place in twenty-four years. It was seedy, the vinyl seats for the booths were cracked, the walls a bit on the greasy-dingy side, but the food was the best I’ve ever eaten.

  25. Hawaiians are big SPAM fans too. Same reason. If you’re willing to eat Scrapple or Goetta, a little SPAM ain’t no big thing.

  26. I ate scrapple that one time; it was tolerable, but I figure that if I’m going to spend good money on food, I ought to spend money on good food.

    Like Ramen Noodles or something.

  27. Well, mr. Editor your remarks about 300lb black women cookin’ made me go upstairs and dig out an old poem I wrote, so here goes:

    Sister Mary’s Soul Food Place
    by Hoagie John, 1997

    There’s a place called Sister Mary’s off of Belfield Avenue,
    Where two old and fat black ladies will cook a meal for you.
    They always wear a smile as they run around the place,
    The smile’s in their Soul Food and reflected on their face.

    They only have two tables so the cooking’s most “to go”,
    And the smell throughout the restaurant is a heaven scent, you know.
    There’s chicken, greens and okra or a tasty rack of ribs,
    All smothered in their homemade sauce; be sure to bring your bibs.

    The smell of cooking pork chops will swell around your head,
    But Sister Mary’s claim to fame is her very own cornbread.
    And though it’s not a fancy joint or even much to see,
    Sister Mary’s as for Soul Food is a five star place for me.

    Tw suggestions on Scrapple: first, it MUST be Habberset’s, second it must be cut thick and deep fried. That way it’s crispy outside and soft inside. No I realize there is one other way to cook scrapple; Lodge cast iron fry pan and oil. But that is for Gourmets!

  28. ” Lodge [Large] cast iron fry pan and oil. But that is for Gourmets!”

    Which is exactly the way I cook Rapa Scrapple for wife and my Sunday breakfast, with fried eggs once over lightly, sprinkled with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and granulated kelp, whole grain buttered toast, Welch’s grape juice, and applesauce. Nothing fancy, but an unbroken ritual we enjoy with the Sunday WaPo and coffee every single Sunday morning, without fail. The only variable is the exact time of day.

    I enjoyed your poem, Hoagie!

  29. WW, eggs should be prepared sunny side up. There’s an old John Prine song, Illegal Smile, with the line, “Bowl of oatmeal tried to stare me down, and won.” I figure if the two eggs looking at me can stare me down, it’s time to go back to bed.

    So far, I’ve always won.

  30. Might just be my computer Editor but on your post of 13:47 I see the fire place but only the first letter of each sentence. All covered with the pic.

  31. “But they [hybrids] really don’t use any less energy, and may use more: note that the Highlander Hybrid gets worse gas mileage on the highway; that’s because it has the added weight of the battery pack to haul around. And that’s going to be true with any hybrid, because batteries are very heavy.”

    That’s a misstatement, Mr Editor. From your own cite, comparing the Toyota LE non-hybrid to the hybrid, 20/24 v 28/28.

    “And every plug-in vehicle is still using energy. It may be the coal being burned at the power plant instead of gasoline, but it’s still energy being produced, and that means pollution. Does it really matter if the car is emitting CO2 from the tailpipe, or the car us using electricity from a power plant, which is emitting CO2 from the smokestack?

    However, there is a corresponding loss of efficiency as electricity is transmitted over distance, 6.5% in the US in 2007. The power plant has to generate more electricity than a Nissan Leaf actually uses, because some is lost during the transmission of electricity from the power plant to the substation, and from the substation to your house. We might use less gasoline if we all went to electric cars, but we’d see a huge increase in demand for electricity, which means more fuel used there.”

    This is all true, so the best comparison would be to calculate an efficiency indicator, miles/BTU, where the BTU is the sum total of all the energy required from drilling or mining or fracking processes, refining process, transportation, and dispensing of the final fuel (gasoline, diesel, electricity, or natural gas). Another interesting efficiency indicator would be to calculate miles/emitted CO2 mass. In both cases, the smaller the denominator, the greater the efficiency in terms of miles traveled per BTU and per emitted CO2 mass.

    This would make a wonderful thesis topic for a PhD candidate in engineering.

  32. Well, I dunno about all that stuff but I think we’d need to calculate battery life, cost of replacing such and final trade-in value. But all this crap is too technical, so just enjoy your car!

  33. “Granulated kelp? What the….? You get curiouser and curiouser Wagonwheel. Does that mean it’s surf n’turf?”

    You know I’m sure, Hoagie, that kelp is used by Asians as a flavor ingredient in soups, and, it is rich in nutrition value. It is also alleged that kelp acts to reduce absorption of fats.

    Since Asians have eaten kelp for centuries, probably millennia, I figure it’s good to eat some. I picked up the habit when I lived in Japan for a year and a half, over a half century ago, and have never stopped eating it.

  34. Hoagie wrote:

    Might just be my computer Editor but on your post of 13:47 I see the fire place but only the first letter of each sentence. All covered with the pic.

    Here’s the text, which will ‘splain everything:

    Hoagie wrote:

    I do all the American food shopping so I use my car.

    Then you really need to buy a Volt, because it’ll cook the food for you! :)

  35. Wagonwheel says:
    April 7, 2012 at 13:47 (Edit)

    “If you cared, you would trade the Highlander in for a Volt.”

    Typical of wingnuts, forever motivated to go to the extreme! :-)

    We care for the very best for you 8-)

  36. There’s a good size kelp cutting operation out of Morro Bay, CA. It’s pretty good size boat, about 35 feet long, with a wide conveyor belt forward to onload the cut kelp.

    My understanding is it’s used to prevent separation in ice cream products.

  37. One more thing before I go shopping. One of the Koreans favorite foods, I mean they fry it in soy sauce and sesame oil, slice it into soups, eat it as an appetizer and batter it and tempura it is…….SPAM!

    Sorry, Hoagie, I got you beat this time. In my 5 trips to Hawai’i (3 to Oaho and 2 to Hawai’i (that’s the Big Isle), tour guides told me Hawai’i (the whole state) is the Spam capital of the world. Hawai’ians eat more spam per capita than anywhere else in the world. And I believe it, too. Go into a Hawai’ian McDonalds during breakfast. Along with all their normal breakfast platters, you have a choice of at least 3 different spam-containing platters — and they sell better!

  38. The Local edition of the LA Times is repoorting the following in it’s LA Now section.

    Radioactive particles from Japan detected in California kelp

    April 9, 2012

    Radioactive particles released in the nuclear reactor meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami were detected in giant kelp along the California coast, according to a recently published study.

    Radioactive iodine was found in samples collected from beds of kelp in locations along the coast from Laguna Beach to as far north as Santa Cruz about a month after the explosion, according to the study by two marine biologists at Cal State Long Beach.

    The levels, while most likely not harmful to humans, were significantly higher than measurements prior to the explosion and comparable to those found in British Columbia, Canada, and northern Washington state following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, according to the study published in March in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

    Giant kelp, or Macrocystis pyrifera, is a particularly good measure of radioactive material in the environment because it accumulates iodine, researchers said. They wrote that radioactive particles released into the atmosphere, in particular radioactive isotope iodine 131, made its way across the Pacific, then was likely deposited into the ocean during a period of significant rain shortly after the meltdown in Japan.

    The highest levels were found in Corona del Mar. Researchers wrote that the levels were probably highest there because the kelp is also exposed to urban runoff, which may have increased the amount of rainfall it received.

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