Radiation from Japanese nuclear plant found in Colorado: Health dept. says no need to panic

Last week, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment tried to counter media-fueled fears about radiation from the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan creating health risks here. Today, that job just got more difficult. The CDPHE confirms that "minuscule" amounts of radiation from the accident have been detected in Colorado.

In a release on view below, the department stresses that the risk of harm from the current radiation is far less than the damage that could be done by unnecessarily gobbling potassium iodide pills, no matter what panicky talking heads might suggest. Here's the CDPHE's take:

Colorado detects radioactive isotope

Minuscule detection level - no risk to public health

Colorado has joined other states now reporting detection of minuscule levels of radiation coming from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. Preliminary sampling from a Colorado monitor has detected a radioactive isotope, iodine-131. The Colorado sampling data is being sent to EPA for further analysis.

"Levels detected in Colorado are minuscule and represent no risk to human health," said Dr. Chris Urbina, chief medical officer and executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. "Radiation can be detected at levels millions of times lower than the level that would cause health impacts. Radiation levels detected in Colorado are consistent with those reported for other states."

According to an EPA news release, "In a typical day, Americans receive doses of radiation from natural sources like rocks, bricks and the sun that are about 100,000 times higher than what we have detected coming from Japan. For example, the levels we're seeing coming from Japan are 100,000 times lower than what you get from taking a roundtrip international flight."

Four days ago, California first reported detection of radiation from a state monitor. The New York Times reported Monday, "officials have tracked the radioactive plume as it has drifted eastward on prevailing winds from Japan -- first to the West Coast and now over the East Coast and the Atlantic, moving toward Europe." As reported nationally, the plume's radiation has been diluted enormously in its journey of thousands of miles and -- at least for now, with concentrations so low -- its presence will have no health consequences in the United States.

Dr. Urbina added, "There is no need for people to seek potassium iodide, as there is no risk to public health from the trace amounts of radiation being reported in the United States. Potassium iodide may have side effects. Using potassium iodide when it is unnecessary could cause intestinal upset (vomiting, nausea and diarrhea), rashes, allergic reactions, soreness of teeth and gums, and inflammation of the salivary glands. Pregnant women and the developing fetus are particularly sensitive to the health risks of taking potassium iodide."

Colorado's monitor is part of EPA's RadNet, a national network of monitoring stations that regularly collect samples for analysis of radioactivity. The RadNet network has stations in each state and has been used to track environmental releases of radioactivity from nuclear weapons tests and nuclear accidents. Nationwide RadNet reports can be found at its website: http://www.epa.gov/japan2011/rert/radnet-data.html#states.

For information about radiation, please call COHELP at 877-462-2911.

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