Several states have reported finding Iodine-131 in surface water (e.g., lakes, rivers, and reservoirs) and rain water. What does this mean for the public’s health?
Highly sensitive radiation monitors operated by EPA and others have detected very low levels of radioactive material in the air in the United States. These levels are consistent with estimated releases from the damaged nuclear reactors.
These findings were expected, given the sensitivity of our monitors and the fact that radioactive material is known to travel in the atmosphere. Federal, state, and local authorities will continue to monitor levels.
Will contaminated rainwater hurt me? Is it okay for my kids to play in the rain?
The very low levels of radioactive material currently being measured in surface water and rain water are far below those of public health concern.
Is it okay for my pet to drink the rainwater?
Drinking rainwater contaminated with radioactive material at the levels currently being detected is unlikely to harm your pet.
Since contaminated rain may have fallen in my area, is it okay to eat food from my garden or use rain water to irrigate it?
Yes. Keep in mind that it is always a good idea to wash food from your garden before you eat it.
Are there any groups of people that should be especially sensitive to radiation?
Infants, pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding are particularly sensitive to radiation. However, levels being measured now are still many times below the risk for even these groups, even for people who drink rainwater. Drinking water levels are many times below this. At this time, there is no need to take extra precautions with regard to drinking water.
Is it okay to take a shower or bath? Swim in a pool? In a river or lake?
Showering, bathing, or swimming in water with the amount of radioactive material that is currently being measured will not harm your health.
Should I drink bottled water instead of tap water?
At this time, there is no reason to switch to bottled water. State and local authorities will provide information for your community if this situation changes.
Should I be testing my water?
At this time, there is no need to take extra precautions with regard to drinking water.
States and the federal government routinely conduct water monitoring for safety and are working to ensure that drinking water does not pose a health risk to people in the US.
Is this likely to be a long-term problem?
Given the uncertainty related to the nuclear reactors in Japan, we don’t know how levels of radiation currently seen in surface water and rain water will change in the immediate time period. However, we do know that Iodine-131 disappears relatively quickly in the environment.
Who can I contact for the best information about my community?
The best source of information about your community is your local drinking water program or department, or your state environmental protection division or program.
Content source: Radiation Studies Branch (RSB), Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects (EHHE), National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH), Coordinating Center for Environmental Health and Injury Prevention (CCEHIP)
From The EPA’s Envirofacts Site – RadNet Overview
“RadNet is a national network of more than 200 monitoring stations distributed across all 50 states and the American Territories. These stations regularly sample the nation’s air, precipitation, drinking water, or pasturized milk for a variety of radionuclides.
RadNet normally samples radiation in all media on a regularly defined schedule. In the event of a threat of a significant radiation release RadNet typically will increase the frequency of sampling and generate many more data records for a given period of time compared to its routine operation.
RadNet data provides a means to estimate levels of radioactivity in the environment, including background radiation as well as radioactive fallout from atomic weapons testing, nuclear accidents, and other intrusions of radioactive materials. RadNet also provides the historical data needed to estimate long-term trends in environmental radiation levels.”
THEN WHERE’S THE DATA?
For more information on the EPA’s Failed RadNet radiation monitoring system click on the two stories below:
A 7.1-magnitude earthquake rattled Japan today according to the AP.
The quake, which occurred during the Japanese night on Thursday, hit 60 miles east of the city of Sendai and about 90 miles from Fukushima, where the beleaguered Daiichi nuclear plant is located; Tepco, the plant’s operator, released a statement noting none of its facilities received further damage from the quake.
A bright bluish flash is seen in the video. Earthquake Lights or electrical transformers are two possible explainations.
Characteristics of Earthquake Lights
Earthquake lights occur before, during and after earthquakes. They are cool and quiet, colored white or blue or red. They are usually dim, but sometimes are brighter than moonlight.
They take various forms: globes, bands, rays, sheets, clouds. They tend to rise from the ground. They have been reported at sea. They may flicker or shine steadily. They may be silent or accompanied by a crackling or bristling sound. Sometimes light boils from the ground like flames. They may be as brief as lightning or glow for several minutes.
Earthquake lights have been accompanied by low-frequency radio noise in the 10 to 20 kHz range.
Earthquake lights have been seen weeks before or after earthquakes and hundreds of kilometers from the epicenter. They are more common in areas of hard, crystalline rocks and near dip-slip rather than strike-slip faults.
UPDATE (Apr 7) -TEPCO Completes Nitrogen Injection At Unit 1
An operation to reduce the risk of a hydrogen explosion at the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi atomic power station’s No. 1 reactor by injecting it with nitrogen has gone smoothly, the plant’s operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Thursday. Pressure in the reactor’s containment vessel has risen as expected, indicating the success of the operation.
In its operation to prevent a hydrogen explosion at the No. 1 reactor, TEPCO plans to insert nearly 6,000 cubic meters of nitrogen, an inert gas, into the reactor over six days and estimates that about 200 cubic meters were injected between 1:30 a.m. and 9:50 a.m. Thursday.
The firm and the government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said they believe chances are slim that another hydrogen explosion will occur immediately or that high volumes of radioactive substances will be emitted following the nitrogen injection operation. – Kyodo News (April 7)
UPDATE – Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency – Seismic Damage Information (the 74th Release)
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency stated that at Units 1 through 4 at Fukushima Daiichi NPS , “White smoke was confirmed to generate continuously.” Reported on April 6.
TEPCO Press Release (Apr 6) – Measures Taken To Prevent Explosion
Injection of Nitrogen to Reactor Containment Vessel of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Unit 1
“Regarding Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Unit 1, taking into account the possibility of hydrogen accumulating inside, we have been considering encapsulation of hydrogen by injecting nitrogen to the reactor containment vessel.
Today, we received an order from minister of economy, trade and industry to report on matter such as necessity of encapsulating nitrogen, method for implementation, and impact assessment of safety.
Accordingly, we have compiled related matters and reported to minister of economy, trade and industry today. The report was approved after the deliberation in the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
Based on the report, we will begin injecting nitrogen to the reactor containment vessel of Unit 1 today, around 10:30pm”. END
Update [Apr.9] - TEPCO announced 0n 4_9 that they would perform an additional operation to inject nitrogen gas into the containment vessel of the Number 1 reactor to prevent a possible hydrogen explosion, TEPCO plans to increase the purity of nitrogen gas from 98 percent to 99.98 percent.