Apr 09

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Are There Safe Levels of Radiation? How Much Radiation Is Safe?


Radiation from Japan has been detected in drinking water in 13 more American cities, and cesium-137 has been found in American milk—in Montpelier, Vermont—for the first time since the Japan nuclear disaster began, according to data released by the Environmental Protection Agency late Friday.

Milk samples from Phoenix and Los Angeles contained iodine-131 at levels roughly equal to the maximum contaminant level permitted by EPA, the data shows. The Phoenix sample contained 3.2 picoCuries per liter of iodine-131. The Los Angeles sample contained 2.9. The EPA maximum contaminant level is 3.0, but this is a conservative standard designed to minimize exposure over a lifetime, so EPA does not consider these levels to pose a health threat.

The cesium-137 found in milk in Vermont is the first cesium detected in milk since the Fukushima-Daichi nuclear accident occurred last month. The sample contained 1.9 picoCuries per liter of cesium-137, which falls under the same 3.0 standard.

Radioactive isotopes accumulate in milk after they spread through the atmosphere, fall to earth in rain or dust, and settle on vegetation, where they are ingested by grazing cattle. Iodine-131 is known to accumulate in the thyroid gland, where it can cause cancer and other thyroid diseases. Cesium-137 accumulates in the body’s soft tissues, where it increases risk of cancer, according to EPA.

Airborne contamination continues to cross the western states, the new data shows, and Boise has seen the highest concentrations of radioactive isotopes in rain so far.

A rainwater sample collected in Boise on March 27 contained 390 picocures per liter of iodine-131, plus 41 of cesium-134 and 36 of cesium-137. EPA released this result for the first time yesterday. Typically several days pass between sample collection and data release because of the time required to collect, transport and analyze the samples.

In most of the data released Friday the levels of contaminants detected are far below the standards observed by EPA and other U.S. agencies.

But the EPA drinking-water data includes one outlier—an unusually, but not dangerously, high reading in a drinking water sample from Chatanooga, Tennessee.

The sample was collected at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Sequoyah nuclear plant. A Tennessee official told the Chatanooga Times last week that radiation from Japan had been detected at Sequoyah but is “1,000 to 10,000 times below any levels of concern.” The 1.6 picocures per liter reported by the EPA on Friday is slightly more than half the maximum contaminant level permitted in drinking water, but more uniquely, it is many times higher than all the other drinking water samples collected in the U.S.

The EPA released this new data through a new interactive open-data system it quietly launched on the EPA website Wednesday. The new interface is to be regularly updated, replacing EPA’s periodic news releases and pdf data charts. Here are more details of the data released Friday:

Drinking Water

Radioactive Iodine-131 was found in drinking water samples from 13 cities. Those cities are listed below, with the amount of Iodine-131 in picocuries per liter. The EPA’s maximum contaminant level for Iodine-131 in drinking water is 3 picocuries per liter.

  • Oak Ridge, TN collected 3/28: 0.63
  • Oak Ridge, TN collected at three sites 3/29: 0.28, 0.20, 0.18
  • Chatanooga, TN collected 3/28: 1.6
  • Helena, MT collected 3/28: 0.18
  • Columbia, PA collected 3/29: 0.20
  • Cincinatti, OH collected 3/28: 0.13
  • Pittsburgh, PA collected 3/28: 0.36
  • East Liverpool, OH collected 3/30: 0.42
  • Painesville, OH collected 3/29: 0.43
  • Denver, CO  collected 3/30: 0.17
  • Detroit, MI collected 3/31: 0.28
  • Trenton, NJ collected 3/31: 0.38
  • Waretown, NJ collected 3/31: 0.38
  • Muscle Shoals, AL collected 3/31: 0.16

Precipitation

In the data released Friday, iodine-131 was found in rainwater samples from the following locations:

  • Salt Lake City, UT collected 3/17: 8.1
  • Boston, MA collected 3/22: 92
  • Montgomery, Alabama collected 3/30: 3.7
  • Boise, ID collected 3/27: 390

As reported above, the Boise sample also contained 42 pC/m3 of Cesium-134, and 36 of Cesium-137.

Air

In the most recent data, iodine-131 was found in air filters in the following locations. In the case of air samples, the radiation is measured in picoCuries per cubic meter.

  • Montgomery, AL collected 3/31: 0.055
  • Nome AK collected 3/30: 0.17
  • Nome AK collected 3/29: 0.36
  • Nome AK collected 3/27: 0.36
  • Nome AK collected 3/26: 0.46
  • Nome AK collected 3/25: 0.26
  • Juneau AKcollected 3/26: 0.43
  • Juneau AK collected 3/27: 0.38
  • Juneau AK collected 3/30: 0.28
  • Dutch Harbor AK collected 3/30: 0.14
  • Dutch Harbor AK collected 3/29: 0.11
  • Dutch Harbor AK colleccted 3/26: 0.21
  • Boise, ID collected 3/27: 0.22
  • Boise, ID collected 3/29: 0.27
  • Boise, ID collected 3/28: 0.32
  • Las Vegas NV collected 3/28: 0.30
  • Las Vegas, NV collected 3/30:: 0.088
  • Las Vegas, NV collected 3/29: 0.044

No other types of isotopes were found in the most recent data from air samples, even though EPA is also on the lookout for barium-140, cobalt-60, cesium-134, cesium-136, cesium-137, iodine-132, iodine-133, tellurium-129, and tellurium-132.

In older samples, isotopes of cesium and tellurium were found in Boise; Las Vegas; Nome and Dutch Harbor; Honolulu, Kauai and Oahu, Hawaii; Anaheim, Riverside, San Francisco, and San Bernardino, California; Jacksonville and Orlando, Florida; Salt Lake City, Utah; Guam, and Saipan on the Marina Islands.

Some of these locations had not been previously reported in EPA news releases.

The EPA has said it will continue to monitor radiation levels in air, precipitation, drinking water, and milk even if the budget impasse shuts down the government next week.

Apr. 9 2011 – 8:15 am

Source: Forbes

“Nuclear radiation is forever,” she added. It doesn’t dissipate or disappear. Jeff Patterson, former Physicians for Social Responsibility president said, “There is no safe level of radionuclide exposure, whether from food, water or other sources. Period.” In 1953, Nobel laureate George Wald agreed saying “no amount of radiation is safe. Every dose is an overdose.”

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5 Responses to “US: EPA Finds Cesium-137 In Vermont Milk, Radiation Detected In Drinking Water In 13 More Cities”

  1. Margaret Says:

    Chattanooga – has two ‘T’s!!

  2. Environment | Radiation in US Milk- Are You Still Drinking Milk? Says:

    […] US: EPA Finds Cesium-137 In Vermont Milk, […]

  3. E Says:

    Oak ridge tennesee has one of the largest populations of rad waste storage disposal and processing on the east coast and most of the other cities listed are right outside of nuclear power plants like Waretown NJ and Trenton NJ. The drinking water contamination isnt from japan, its from the local rad facilities.

  4. Dr. Theresa Pantanella Says:

    FACT: The United States has no official radiation waste depository that is deemed safe by the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission).

    FACT: At times of ‘accidents’ at the nuclear power plants, other nuclear power plants will dump radioactive waste into the atmosphere and local environment because people will think its from the location of the accident.

    FACT: The BIER VII and the US Department of Energy have stated no does is safe.

    FACT: The European Committee on Radiation Risk and the Nuclear Information and Resource Center have stated it only takes one particle of radioactive material to create death from cancer.

    So, even if the readings are from radioactive materials from Japan, or from the local wastes, or from nuclear reactor emissions, they will cause cancer, death, leukemia, kidney failure and disease.

    This will cost each reader hundreds of millions of dollars in health care. This will cost America millions in lost revenues from people unable to work. This will cost families their precious vacation money that will have to go for medications and copays.

    Get educated. Talk with others about radiation. Read America’s Chernobyl…Millions Will Die. It has answers on how to protect your health from the endless onslaught of radiation. Radiation is part of our world. It will not go away. It is here forever. It will kill. No one can esape it.

    Protect yourself. Get water filters. Get air filters. Don’t go out in the rain! these are the basics. Read America’s Chernobyl for more information.

  5. Jacquie Walton Says:

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