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Low-Level Radiation From Japan’s Damaged Nuclear Plant Detected As Far Away As U.S.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Monday said U.S. government sensors had detected radiation believed to be from the damaged nuclear plant, Reuters writes. But those levels are significantly lower than what is considered dangerous for people, according to the agency. “The EPA said 12 air monitoring locations across the country have identified trace amounts of radioactive isotopes believed to have come from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant hit by an earthquake and tsunami on March 11,” the news service reports. In a press release, the EPA said, “These types of findings are to be expected in the coming days and are still far below levels of public health concern” (Gardner, 3/28). 

Also on Monday, officials in parts of southeastern China said they “have detected ‘extremely low levels’ of radioactive material from Japan’s stricken nuclear plant in the air,” Agence France-Presse reports. However no added preventative measures were needed because the level of radiation was not strong enough to be considered a threat, China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection said in a statement (3/28).

On Tuesday, “[t]races of radioactive iodine from Japan’s stricken nuclear power plant” were detected in Russia’s Far East, but officials said the radiation did not post a health threat to people in those areas, Reuters reports (3/29).

AP Article Highlights Need For Radiation Treatment

“Japan’s nuclear emergency highlights a big medical gap: Few treatments exist to help people exposed to large amounts of radiation,” the Associated Press writes in a story examining some of the treatments and preventive measures being developed to address excessive radiation exposure.

“The U.S. calls these potential products ‘countermeasures,’ and they’re part of the nation’s preparations against a terrorist attack, such as a dirty bomb. But if they work, they could be useful in any kind of radiation emergency,” the news service writes. “Japan’s crisis – where last week two nuclear plant workers were hospitalized for radiation burns – is sure to renew attention to a field that’s long been overshadowed by the hunt for protections against bioterrorism, not radiological emergencies,” according to the AP (3/29).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.