Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Three Times The Limit

Milk tested in Arkansas is three times the allowed radiation limit. But not to worry. Only pregnant women and children need to stop drinking it.

The levels of radiation detected in milk tested in Little Rock, Ark., are the highest yet, according to data released by the EPA on Saturday. The level of iodine-131 in the milk was three times higher than the EPA's "maximum containment level" set for safe exposure. But the milk is not yet considered dangerous because the threat level only applies to long-term exposure, and the radiation in this case is expected to deteriorate rapidly, reports Forbes.

Levels of radiation in tests of Philadelphia drinking water also marked a new high, but were still below the EPA's maximum containment level. Philadelphia is the 14th US city where radioactive fallout from Japanese reactor has been detected in drinking water.
Given the natural rate of decay for Iodine 131 it should be safe for pregnant women and children in one to three months. Note that my advice for pregnant women and children is not official. It is what I would do under the circumstances.

In other American radiation news it appears to be spreading far and wide.
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.
The trouble is that the plants have not stopped spewing and the spew is expected to continue for months. Also there appears to be a little rain water problem.
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.
These are the early returns. The plants are still spewing. If Iodine 131 continues to be a problem a month from now it will mean that there has been a recriticality accident on the plant site.

If it doesn't get any worse I am not going to worry. Hell I'm too old to worry anyway. If it does get worse? Well Darwin says we will be breeding radiation resistant humans over time. So there is that to look forward to.

Want the source for this data? Go to the EPA Environmental Radiation Levels site.

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