- Radiation levels detected in California due to the crisis-stricken nuclear power plant in Japan are extremely low and pose no threats to public health.
- US authorities and radiation experts affirm that the radiation plume presents no danger, but monitoring of the situation is being diligently conducted along the West Coast.
- The substantial distance between Japan and the United States results in any leaked radiation to greatly diffuse and weaken during its journey, further reducing any threat.
- It’s vital to remember that humans are exposed to non-harmful radiation every day from natural sources such as the earth, solar rays, and even drinking water.
- Despite the low levels of current radiation, some experts warn of potential hazards if a reactor containment barrier in Japan were to break, causing a massive explosion and releasing large amounts of radioactive material.
In recent developments, the crisis-stricken nuclear power plant in Japan seems to be casting a very long shadow that has now slightly touched California, albeit with an extremely low dosage of radiation which poses no harm to human health, as per recent news updates.
An undisclosed diplomat, who has insight on the radiation tracing processes of the United Nations’ Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, relayed to Associated Press that the preliminary data reflects values that falls nearly a billion times under the threshold which could cause any health risks. The anonymity of the diplomat is maintained as the organization generally does not publicize its findings.
US Authorities Remain Unperturbed
Leading federal officers and experts in the field of radiation in the United States consistently affirm that the radiation plume is of no danger to public health. However, monitoring of the situation is being conducted diligently through detection devices crucially placed along the West Coast.
The potential of any hazardous radioactive cloud reaching the United States seems to be virtually non-existent, according to Jacqueline Williams, director of the radiation medicine program at the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Center for Biophysical Assessment and Risk Management Following Irradiation.
“There seems to be very little cause for concern” she stated, referring to the fluctuating circumstances in Japan.
Radiation Levels Dissipate
Existing radiation levels that were set loose in Japan “are substantially dissipated, so by the time it arrives in California or anywhere in U.S., it would be exceptionally low,” concurs Barry Rosenstein, a lecturer of radiation oncology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
The Distance Factor
Fundamentally, the reason for low levels of radiation can be attributed to the significant distance between Japan and United States. Substantial amounts of radiation have already been leaked from the four impaired reactors in Japan, but for any of the emitted radiation to reach North America, it would have to travel through air over a distance upwards of 5,000 miles.
During its journey, any radioactivity present in the air would greatly diffuse and therefore, significantly weaken.
Constant Exposure to Radiation
One should remember that we are being subjected to radiation on an everyday basis. It isn’t harmful and originates from natural sources in the Earth, solar rays in the atmosphere, and even our drinking water.
Lessons from Chernobyl
The occurrence at Chernobyl led to an enormous release of radioactive isotopes affecting significant parts of Europe, well beyond the proximity of Chernobyl. But Rosenberg points out that, Europe and the Ukraine are far nearer to each other compared to Japan and the United States.
Impact on the United States
According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, “Weather conditions have swept the minor emissions from the Fukushima reactors into the sea, away from populace. Given the distance between the two countries, Hawaii, Alaska, the U.S. territories and the U.S. West Coast are not expected to experience any dangerous levels of radioactivity,” as stated on their website.
Regardless, there are some experts such as Dr. Ira Helfand, a Massachusetts-based nuclear safety expert, who believe that if fuel from one of the disabled reactors in Japan were to melt down and break the containment barrier, it could trigger a massive explosion.
“The fuel rods carry huge amounts of radioactive material, each reactor capable of releasing more radiation than 1,000 bombs the size of Hiroshima,” cautioned Helfand.
For further understanding of the risks related to nuclear radiation, please refer to the University of Pittsburgh.