Radioactive nuclide levels currently found in Northwest rainwater
(about 5 picoCuries/liter) exceed EPA drinking water Maximum Standards.
The EPA and Oregon Health Department state “While the levels in the
rainwater exceed the applicable Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of
3piC/L for drinking water, it is important to note that the
corresponding MCL for iodine-131 was calculated based on long-term
chronic exposures over the course of a lifetime 70 years. The levels
seen in rainwater are expected to be relatively short in duration.”
If you read the above document regarding the FDA’s maximum amount of
beta emitting nuclides allowed in milk here is the bottom line:
• The EPA’s MCL level is calculated so that in a population of one
million people, the radiation will result in no more than one
additional cancer (perhaps fatality).
• The FDA Maximum standard, on the other hand, accepts two extra
cancer fatalities in a population of 10,000 or about 1 additional death
per 5,000 people exposed. That could be up
to 200 more deaths per 1 million people if exposed.
Now here is how the EPA and some State agencies are measuring radiation:
The EPA’s Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for beta emitting nuclides in
drinking water per year is about 700 picoCuries or 4 rems (any source).
PicoCurie (pCi): Measures the rate of decay of a sample of radioactive
material. A rem (Roentgen equivalent man) is equal to 1000 Millirems.
Measures the biological effect (risk of illness) of a dose of radiation
on a person. Some chest or upper body x-rays can be 600 -1000 millirems
or .6 to 1 rem.
RE: Radioactive iodine 131
Iodine 131 has a half life of 8 days and decays by beta emission.
Iodine 131 was detected in Portland precipitation at levels of 161, 87,
13, and is now around 5 picoCuries per liter. ( Source:
Iodine 131 was detected in Olympia precipitation at 125 picoCuries per
liter on 3/24/11 a day before Portland was reading 87.
((EPA Radnet Precipitation Results document April 4, 2011)
Iodine 131 was detected in Boise precipitation at 242 picoCuries per
liter on 3/22/11.
Iodine 131 is the most prevalent radionuclide present in the Northwest
after the largest Fukushima release. Luckily it has a half life of 8
days so half of the Iodine 131 will be non radioactive or decayed 8
days after release, and then after 16 days 3 quarters of it will be
decayed, and after 24 days 83 percent will be decayed, and so on.
RE: Radioactive Cesium
Cesium-137 has a half life of about 30.17 years, and decays by beta
emission. Much lower levels were detected but its half life is very
Cesium 134 and 137 was detected in Boise Idaho precipitation on
3/22/11 at 11.2 and 11.6 picoCuries per liter, respectively.
((EPA Radnet Precipitation Results document April 4, 2011)
Cesium 137 fallout in Washington? Yes, the only data is from air filter
results on 3/18 for Seattle. Only 3 data results for WA is listed in
this document. (
http://epa.gov/japan2011/docs/rert/radnet-cart-filter-final.pdf ) The
State of Washington has their own data monitoring website here
http://www.doh.wa.gov/topics/japan/monitor.htm However WA and OR seem
to be using different measuring units (to confuse?).
Was there radioactive Cesium falling on Oregon from 3/18 through 4/10?
The data from
DailyAirMonitoring.aspx say yes but in small amounts.
This site measures nuclide emissions in millirems and picoCuries
although there is no easy conversion from one to the other.
RE: Radionuclides in Drinking Water
((EPA Radnet Drinking Water Results dated April 4, 2011)
Data collected up until March 28th shows that all but two sites (Boise
ID and Richand WA showed .2 and .23 picoCuries per liter, respectively)
showed no contamination. However, it is not described in EPA documents
how long radionuclides take to appear in drinking water after they hit
the ground as rain or snow.
RE: Uranium 234
Uranium 234 was detected in a Seattle air filter on 3/18/11 at .000020
picoCuries per meter squared. The EPA stated that these were likely
naturally occurring U234 amounts although there was no data shown for
U234 as background before that date.
((EPA Radnet Air Filter and Air Cartridge Results, April 6, 2011)
In this 14 page “EPA Radnet Air filter and Air Cartridge Results”
document there is no Oregon air filter data results but the Oregon
Department of Health maintains air filter data results here:
Browse the latest EPA Radnet Results data charts across the country for
yourself if you wish. It can be confusing because test results are on
different dates and you’ll notice that there is PDF document with data
for air filter samples for all of Oregon but for every state around us.
Download and Save the data sheets because they may disappear off the
EPA website soon.
RE: Best Preventative Practices for Now. Zero Exposure from breathable
or ingestible radionuclides from any source is EPA’s recommended
guidelines but other than that…….
The Best thing one could do now for your own safety and those around
you: if you were out in the rain/snow the last 10-12 days in the month
of March and first of April, wash (blast off with an outside hose first
if you wish) your rain gear, hats or shoes that you wore to remove any
particles that are still on them. Also if you have pets that were in
the rain through that time a good bath would be recommended.
Food: Thoroughly wash vegetables especially greens that were exposed to
the rain during that time.
For salamanders, frogs or other critters who live without shelter from
the rain, I am sorry to say there is not much we can do for them.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news (it was very difficult to write).
Also, if you see any errors please let me know.
Other pertinent data:
Iodine-131 (half-life 8 days) is a beta-emitting isotope, which is a
common nuclear fission product. It is preferably administered to humans
only in very high doses which destroys all tissues that accumulate it
(usually the thyroid), which in turn prevents these tissues from
developing cancer. A high dose of this isotope appears safer for the
thyroid than a low dose. Like other radio iodines, I-131 accumulates in
the thyroid gland, but unlike the others, in small amounts it is highly
carcinogenic there due to damage from beta decay
An acute whole-body dose of under 50 rem is typically subclinical and
will immediately produce blood changes. 50 to 200 rem may cause illness
but rarely be immediately fatal. Doses of 200 to 1,000 rem will
probably cause serious illness with poor outlook at the upper end of
the range. Doses of more than 1,000 rems are almost invariably fatal.