Radioactive milk found on West Coast, but levels are 'minuscule'
Radioactive milk linked to the Japan nuclear crisis has been detected in samples from California and Washington State. But the amounts are so tiny that they pose no health risk, officials say.
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“According to them, a pint of milk at these levels would expose an individual to less radiation than would a five-hour airplane flight,” Gov. Gregoire said. “Since the situation in Japan we have been monitoring for radiation. We will continue our monitoring and work closely with the EPA, FDA and CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]. At no point have detection levels come close to levels of concern.”Skip to next paragraph
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The California Department of Public Health issued similar reassurances.
"Tests from eight environmental monitoring stations in California have found trace levels of radiation that do not present a risk to human health," the department said.
Sensors have detected iodine-131 in Colorado and some East Coast states as well. But there too, officials report no threat to human health.
Imports of dairy products and produce from Japan have been halted. Other imported foods, including seafood, are still being sold in the United States but only after being screened for radiation.
EPA increases monitoring
The EPA this week said it is increasing its monitoring of milk, precipitation and drinking water around the country.
The Union of Concerned Scientists, which generally opposes nuclear energy and has been critical of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), says there is little threat to Americans from drifting radioactive materials.
“While wind patterns will likely carry the radioactive plume eastward, since Japan is thousands of miles from the United States, radioactive material in the air will be so diffuse by the time it reaches Hawaii, Alaska, or the mainland United States that it is highly unlikely to create significant health concerns,” the UCS says in its Website FAQs. “As a result, people in those locations will not have to worry about direct inhalation of a radiation plume."
Scientists emphasize that safe levels of radiation are found in many places.
"Radiation is all around us in our daily lives, and these findings are a minuscule amount compared to what people experience every day,” said Patricia Hansen, an FDA senior scientist. “For example, a person would be exposed to low levels of radiation on a round-trip cross-country flight, watching television, and even from construction materials."