Unidentified sources reported findings in Tennessee of the radionuclides Iodine-131, Cesium-134 and Cesium-137… identified as byproducts of nuclear fallout.
So, how many places in Tennessee have nuclear fallout now? First article on the topic that I found:
April 6, 2011
OAK RIDGE – The first evidence of Fukushima fallout in Oak Ridge has been confirmed, with radioactive iodine-131 measured in precipitation at three sampling sites, according to information posted Tuesday on the Environmental Protection Agency’s RadNet site.
Owen Hoffman, a former researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and an expert in assessing radiation risks from environmental contamination, said data from the March 24 samples in Oak Ridge indicate low levels of I-131 that do not pose a health threat. But the samples do provide further evidence that fallout from the Japanese nuclear events is widespread, he said.
The EPA said no radiation levels of concern have reached the United States following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and subsequent problems at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan.
The I-131 levels identified in March 24 precipitation at three Oak Ridge sites were 17.7, 18.3 and 13.4 picocuries of radioactivity per liter of water, according to data released by EPA. The Oak Ridge monitoring results were similar to readings in Montgomery, Ala., and Atlanta, but significantly lower than samples taken at Olympia, Wash. (125 pCi/l) and Boise, Idaho (242 pCi/l).
Hoffman said it’s hard to do meaningful comparisons of sites in the U.S., because the monitoring results are based, in part, by the amount of rain that brings the radioactive particles down from the atmosphere.
It’s too early to know if the fallout from radioactive releases at the Fukushima plant will go up or down in the days ahead, he said.
Hoffman, the president of SENES Oak Ridge and director of the Center for Risk Analysis, said the levels of radioactive iodine found in Oak Ridge in rainwater were not a problem. He said the exposure to the public of most concern would be infants drinking milk contaminated with I-131, and Hoffman said he’d seen no data on milk.
The environmental scientist has spent decades studying the transport and effects of radioactive materials released from nuclear facilities and nuclear weapons testing. After the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident, Hoffman worked with the International Atomic Energy Agency to collect fallout data and evaluate the models for assessing risk from the radioactive exposures.
Oak Ridge received radioactive fallout from Chernobyl, as did other U.S. communities, Hoffman said. So far, the radioactivity of the fallout associated with the Japanese event is about a fifth of the maximum level that was measured in Oak Ridge following Chernobyl, he said.
Senior writer Frank Munger may be reached at 865-342-6329.
SOME READING ON THE TOPIC:
Radioactive strontium detected outside 30km zone
April 13, 2011 by Wes at Progressive Lever
Japan’s science ministry says small amounts of radioactive strontium have been detected in soil and plants outside the 30-kilometer zone around the Fukushima plant where the government has advised people to stay indoors. Strontium could cause cancer.
The ministry has been monitoring the level of radioactive substances in soil and weeds in Fukushima Prefecture.
It found 3.3 to 32 becquerels of strontium 90 per kilogram of soil in samples taken from 3 locations in Namie Town and Iitate Village, 30 kilometers from the plant.
An extremely small amount of strontium was also found in plants taken from Motomiya City, Ono Town and Otama and Nishigo Villages. The areas are 40 to 80 kilometers from the Fukushima plant.
Strontium 90 has a half-life of 29 years. It tends to accumulate in bones and could cause cancer.
The ministry says the amount found is extremely low and will not have a negative health impact even if a person ingested one kilogram of the contaminated soil.
The samples were taken between March 16 and 19.
A nuclear engineering expert says the fact that strontium was detected proves that the fuel in the reactor or the spent fuel in the pool was damaged at that point. He says a hydrogen explosion occurred at Reactor 3 around that time and the particles may have been carried by winds.”
Fallout Fears: Potential Health Impact of the Japan Nuclear Crisis | ABC News
Experts Explain Radiation’s Harmful Effects, Protective Measures
As workers hurry to cool the exposed fuel rods at the Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan’s quake-battered Fukushima prefecture, health officials are screening evacuees from the 12-mile danger zone surrounding the plant for radiation.
Nineteen people have shown signs of radiation exposure following the two hydrogen blasts at the plant’s No.1 and No. 3 reactor buildings. And 141 more are feared to have been exposed while waiting for evacuation, including a group of 60 people removed by helicopter from a high school, according to Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
Although the health impact of radiation at low doses is controversial, the National Research Council maintains that no level of above what occurs naturally is safe. Prior to the latest emergency at the Daiichi plant, radiation levels at the plant reached 3,130 microsieverts per hour — roughly half the average annual dose in the U.S.
Jacky Williams, director of the Center for Biophysical Assessment and Risk Management Following Irradiation at the University of Rochester Medical Center, called the 12-mile evacuation radius an “extremely conservative safety zone to protect against fallout.”
But even if a meltdown is avoided, the possibility of low-level radiation circulating in the air and contaminating the soil following the two steam-releasing explosions is very real, according to Dr. Janette Sherman, author and specialist in internal medicine and toxicology from Alexandria, Va.
“To assume that steam containing radioisotopes found in nuclear reactors is not going to have health effects, I think, is wishful thinking,” Sherman said.
Those radioisotopes, such as iodine-131, strontium-90 and cesium-137, get taken up by the body. As they decay, they give off energy in the form of gamma rays, beta rays that penetrate deep through tissues, and alpha rays that damage DNA. Sherman likens them to harmful chemicals that settle in various tissues of the body.
“We know that radioactive iodine, which goes to the thyroid, can cause cancer and stunt children’s growth,” said Sherman, adding that exposure during pregnancy can damage the fetal brain. “We know strontium 90 goes to bones and teeth and is linked to leukemia and immune dysfunction. And we know cesium goes to soft tissues, like muscle and breast tissue.”