U.S. RADIATION LEVELS SOAR 20 TIMES FROM JAPAN FALLOUT - IDAHO HIGHEST, 100 TIMES ABOVE NORMAL
Latest EPA Air, Water Data Comparable to Chernobyl Fallout, Chinese A-Bomb Tests
April 7, 2011 – Iodine-131 in U.S. air and precipitation in late March was 20 times greater than normal, due to radiation releases from the meltdowns at Japanese nuclear reactors, according to EPA data.
The highest figures recorded thus far are in Idaho, where an air sample in Boise was 84 times above normal, and a precipitation sample in Boise was 121 times above normal. The highest concentrations in the nation are on the West Coast, Alaska, and Hawaii.
“We can’t assume this radiation is harmless, and must conduct studies to assess any health risks, especially to American infants, and children,” says Joseph Mangano MPH MBA, Executive Director of the Radiation and Public Health Project research group.
Since the earthquake and tsunami in Japan on March 11 caused meltdowns at multiple nuclear reactors at Fukushima, the EPA has been collecting data from its system of 124 radiation monitoring sites throughout the country. I-131 results are as follows:
From March 18-24, the EPA took 73 air samples at 17 sites, and detected I-131 in 66 of them. A comparison with historical EPA data showed:
- The current U.S. median of 0.198 picocuries of I-131 per cubic meter of air was at least 20 times above “normal” levels (0.010) recorded by EPA in early June 1986 when Chernobyl fallout had largely disappeared from the U.S. environment.
- Current levels were 46% of peak Chernobyl fallout (0.430, May 11-13, 1986).
- Boise ID had a reading 84 times above the normal level in the U.S. on March 23 (0.840, vs. 0.010).
From March 15-21, the EPA took 13 precipitation samples, but did not detect I-131 in any. But from March 22-25, each of 12 samples at 10 sites had detectable levels:
- The current U.S. median of 39.6 picocuries of I-131 per liter of precipitation was 20 times above normal levels (2.0) recorded in early May 1986, before Chernobyl fallout arrived.
- Current levels were 40% of peak Chernobyl fallout (99.5, May 14-16, 1986).
- Boise ID had a reading 121 times above the normal level in the U.S. on March 22 (242, vs.2.0)
- Riverside CA, near San Francisco, had a reading 69 times above the normal level in the U.S. (138 on March 22)
- Current levels were 52% of the levels in October 1976, after fallout from a large-scale Chinese above-ground atom bomb test reached the U.S. (75.5)
I-131 is a fast-decaying radioactive chemical (half life of 8 days) found only in nuclear weapons explosions and reactor operations. When ingested, it seeks out the thyroid gland, where it kills and injures healthy cells, leading to thyroid cancer and other disorders affecting the organ. I-131 is one of hundreds of radioactive chemicals in reactors, including Strontium-90, Cesium-137, and Plutonium-239. The EPA is tracking several of these chemicals.
To access EPA air and precipitation data, the following web sites can be consulted:
RPHP is a New York-based group of scientists and health professionals who study health hazards of radiation exposure. Its members have published 27 medical journal articles and 7 books on the topic.
EPA Samples of Air and Precipitation
March 2011 vs. Historical Data
|March 18-25, 2011
0.840 (Boise ID)
|May 11-13, 1986
|| 32 23
1.600 (Boise/Phoenix AZ)
|June 1-10, 1986
||End of Chernobyl
|| 44 30
||0.010 0.064 (Lansing MI) - “normal levels”
All figures are in picocuries of Iodine-131 per cubic meter of air
Sources: http://www.epa.gov/japan2011/docs/rert/radnet-air-final.pdf, and Environmental Radiation Data, Volume 46 (April-June 1986).
|March 15-21, 2011
||----- All Not Detectable
|March 22-25, 2011
||39.6 242 (Boise ID)
|May 1-3, 1986
|| 9 7
2.0 5 (Idaho City ID) – “normal levels”
|May 14-16, 1986
||99.5 3230 (Cheyenne WY)
|May 27-30, 1986
||End of Chernobyl
25.5 80 (Concord NH)
|Oct. 4-29, 1976
||After Chinese test
||75.5 456 (Montgomery AL)
Note: Three samples from May 1-3, 1986 were negative numbers, and assumed to be 0.
All figures are in picocuries of Iodine-131 per liter of precipitation
Sources: http://www.epa.gov/japan2011/docs/rert/radnet-precipitation-final.pdf, and Environmental Radiation Data, Report 8 (April 1977) and Volume 46 (April-June 1986).