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Radiation found in rain water over US: Report

The radiation level is too low to be a health threat and water supply is not contaminated.

Written by Agencies | Boston |
March 28, 2011 8:35:07 pm

Radiation has been detected in rain water over Massachusetts that could be a result of the breakdown of the Japanese nuclear power plant damaged earlier this month by an earthquake and tsunami.

Health officials,however,said the radiation level was too low to be a health threat and the state’s water supply had not been contaminated.

“The drinking water supply in Massachusetts is unaffected by this short-term,slight elevation in radiation,” the ‘Boston Herald’ quoted Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach as saying.

“However,we will carefully monitor the drinking water as we exercise an abundance of caution,” he added.

Routine sampling of rainwater last week in Massachusetts,Pennsylvania and Washington all showed similar elevated levels of radioiodine-131,said Auerbach. However,air samples in the same Massachusetts location showed no elevated levels.

Radioiodine reportedly only has a half-life of eight days,which means only half the level of radiation will be present in eight days.

Even if the nuclear plant in Japan was to melt,the radiation over Massachusetts would be dangerous to humans,said Ronald Ballinger,a professor of nuclear science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“The concentrations are so low as to be absurd,” said Ballinger. “The event is pretty much contained,right now. They have power back to the site.”

Radioactive material,however,continues to leak from the damaged nuclear site.

“Certainly if there is additional significant radiation release in Japan,that would have an impact on the larger environment,” Auerbach said.

“That would be something that would be closely monitored by the US officials who are paying very close attention to that in Japan. So we will know that ahead of time if that occurs,” he added.

On a daily basis,state health officials stressed,Americans are exposed to radiation from natural sources like the sun and bricks with doses that are 100,000 times higher than what has been detected in the US coming from Japan.

Daiichi power plant,located 220 kilometres northeast of Tokyo,has been leaking radiation since a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami on March 11.

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