Should citizens fear radiation threat from Japan?

NORWICH – Chenango County public health officials say they have received numerous telephone calls from citizens concerned about the threat of radiation in New York State from the disabled Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan.

Public Health Department Director Marcas Flindt said the state’s health department has reassured New Yorkers that no U.S. states are expected to experience harmful levels of radiation.

According to releases from the New York State Department of Health and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, several EPA air monitors have detected very low levels of radioactive material consistent with estimates from the damaged nuclear reactors. These detections were expected and the levels detected are far below levels of public-health concern.

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.

The numbers being reported in Massachusetts are 79 picocuries per liter. The numbers reported in Pennsylvania range from 40-110 picocuries per liter. EPA is reviewing this data – however, in both cases these are levels above the normal background levels historically reported in these areas.

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