Japan’s Radiation Reaches USA at Very Low Levels

WASHINGTON, DC, March 28, 2011 (ENS) – As a result of the radiation released from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, several EPA air monitors have detected very low levels of radioactive material in the United States consistent with the patterns of radiation from the Japanese nuclear reactors.

The EPA says these detections were expected and the levels of radiation measured are far below levels of public health concern.

During detailed filter analyses from 12 RadNet air monitor locations across the nation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency identified trace amounts of radioactive isotopes consistent with the Japanese nuclear incident.

RadNet radiation monitor on the roof of the Bay Area Air District building in San Francisco, California (Photo courtesy BAAQMD)

EPA’s samples were captured by monitors in Alaska, Alabama, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands and Washington state over the past week and sent to EPA scientists for detailed laboratory analysis.

Some of the filter results show levels slightly higher than those found by EPA monitors last week and a Department of Energy monitor the week before.

RadNet continuously monitors the nation’s air and regularly monitors drinking water, milk and precipitation for environmental radiation. The RadNet online searchable database contains historical data of environmental radiation monitoring data from all 50 states and U.S. territories.

Elevated levels of radioactive material in rainwater have been expected as a result of the nuclear incident after the events in Japan since radiation is known to travel in the atmosphere.

There have been reports received that the states of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts have seen elevated levels of radiation in recent precipitation events.

In both cases, the agency says, these are levels above the normal background levels historically reported in these areas. EPA is reviewing this data.

While short-term elevations such as these do not raise public health concerns, and the levels seen in rainwater are expected to be relatively short in duration, the EPA says the agency has taken steps to increase the level of nationwide monitoring of precipitation, drinking water, and other potential exposure routes.

EPA’s only recommendation to state and local governments is to continue to coordinate closely with EPA, the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The EPA says it will continue to communicate nationwide sampling results as they come in.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has said officials there do not expect to see radiation at harmful levels reaching the United States from damaged Japanese nuclear power plants.

In California, the Bay Area Air District says officials there agree with the U.S. EPA, California Department of Public Health and the NRC that because of the distance, they do not expect radiation levels that would cause health affects or cause for concern in the Bay Area and California.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2011. All rights reserved.