March 31, 2011 in City

Minimal levels of radiation detected in area milk during federal testing

By The Spokesman-Review
 

 Consumers were told Wednesday not to worry about low levels of radiation found by federal health and safety regulators testing milk samples in Spokane.

 “After the disaster in Japan, many of us are understandably on heightened alert about the possibility of exposure to radiation,” said state Sen. Lisa Brown, D-Spokane. “Today’s news about the infinitely small level of radiation in milk in Spokane is bound to trigger these concerns.”

 The Environmental Protection Agency performed the tests and confirmed milk sold in the county is safe to drink. The EPA did not specify where the sample was taken or the methods used.

 The tests were part of a nationwide program to monitor milk, drinking water, rain and snow, to ensure public safety in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear crisis and radiation leaks.

 A sample taken March 25 detected levels of radioactive isotope Iodine-131 that were 5,000 times below what would cause concern from the federal Food and Drug Administration, according to Gov. Chris Gregoire.

 Similar findings are expected during the week from other tests. Iodine-131 has a half-life of approximately eight days.

 “Radiation is all around us in our daily lives, and these findings are a minuscule amount compared to what people experience every day,” Patricia Hansen, an FDA senior scientist, said in a press release. “For example, a person would be exposed to low levels of radiation on a round trip cross country flight, watching television, and even from construction materials.”

 Imports of dairy products and fruits and vegetables from Japan have already been stopped. The FDA noted that seafood from Japan may still be imported and sold to the public but only after it is screened for radiation.

 The Spokane Regional Health District noted that the radiation levels should not prompt any precautionary actions.


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