Experts address Fukushima-related radiation concerns

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Updated: 2/06/2014 9:18 am
RENO, Nev. ( & KRNV) -- Unconfirmed reports across the internet say radiation levels in the U.S. are spiking. Some sites say it's as high as 1400% of normal levels, but radiation experts say those numbers are being skewed.

"There's a lot of information that's put out there on the internet and on blogs and whatnot that doesn't really have a basis," said State of Nevada Radiation Control Specialist Jon Bakkedahl.

Bakkedahl said online reports saying radiation is reaching dangerous levels because of the 2011 nuclear meltdown in Japan have no scientific basis. "Modern technology shows that there is no increased level of radiation due to Fukushima," he said.

Argonne National Laboratory Principal Nuclear Engineer Roger Blomquist has been in the business since the 1970's and he agrees.

"You could say that something is much higher than normal, and that's presumably never good," Blomquist said. "But the question is, is it high enough to cause any health effects and the answer to that question has always been no, as far as Fukushima and the west coast of the United States goes."

University of Nevada Radiation Safety Officer Myung Chul Jo has been observing radiation in Reno for more than two decades.

"Radiation is everywhere and we cannot escape it," Jo said.

He said air, ground, water and cosmic radiation exposure is part of life, and he set up a measurement of the local natural radiation for this story.

"That's probably between 15-20 microroentgens per hour," which Jo said is average. "This one we measured from '99 to 2008 just the ambient background level. The average was about 15 microroentgens per hour."

Jo said the average person is exposed to about 300 millirems of radiation each year from nature - well below dangerous levels.

"It would be one hundred thousand millirems," he said. "Below that we don't expect any adverse health effects."

Fukushima was a different story, but Blomquist said it's still not a threat here.

"By everyday standards there's an awful lot," Blomquist said. "But if you took all of the radiation in all of the Fukushima reactor cores that were involved in this mess and dump all of that radiation into the Pacific Ocean, it would still be a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of the radioactive material that's already in the Pacific Ocean from natural sources and from the nuclear weapons tests, the atmospheric tests, during the early part of the Cold War."

Blomquist also said the radioactive isotope that's causing many of the concerns - Iodine 131 - has a half-life of only eight days. So three years later, the amounts would be miniscule.

"The only conceivable way anyone could ingest an unusual amount of contamination would be from seafood," Blomquist said. "Although I think that's very unlikely."

"I'm not going to speak for them, but for me nope, I'm not going to worry about it," Jo said.

If you have a Geiger counter and see something fishy, call Bakkedahl's office and they'll see if there's a reason to worry.

"If there is, we are actually able to run spectroscopy on it, which is like a fingerprint for that particular material, and we can determine what it is, at what level and if it's actually a concern for them or anyone else," Bakkedahl said. 

If you're concerned about radiation levels, Bakkedahl said the place to start checking is at your home. It's National Radon Action Month, so through the end of February you can get a free testing kit through the University of Nevada by calling 1-888-Radon-10 or clicking here.
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kebiryfy - 2/4/2014 6:49 AM
0 Votes
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wilson - 2/3/2014 4:32 PM
0 Votes
Kramer, Kramer, Kramer! There you go again. You are right and everyone else is wrong. I'm sure you have worn a Dosimeter but I am wondering if it was working. Was it an EPD, QFD or TLD? Or was it a Film Badge Dosimeter? And this makes you an expert? You the man!!!!! I'm so impressed!

ella281 - 2/3/2014 2:26 PM
0 Votes
Start working at home with Google! Just work for few hours and have more time with friends and family. I earn up to $500 per week. It’s by-far the best job Ive had. Online jobs give new hope during recession. You could check here

steven - 2/1/2014 12:02 PM
0 Votes
Experts ? capitilizm is at risk by lack by them. trust is non-exsistant the entire pacific ocean is now contaminated .they do have any credibility Now. Paid Pointless bloogers

Kramer - 1/30/2014 1:37 PM
0 Votes
Wilson, you're 'drifting' again. I have worn a radiation monitoring badge and used a Neutron Probe (densitometer). Did U know a smoke detector emits radiation?. It takes a little college or tech training (a few hours) & some faith in our scientific establishment to understand the reality. The rest is ranting, useless conjecture.

Parthasarathy - 1/30/2014 5:46 AM
0 Votes
Lack of domain knowledge can lead to paranoia. Trust people who knows. If this sort of radiation phobia can take over public's mind in USA, what will be the fate of people in other countries. Every one near any beach in the West coast of USA conjures up the presence of the usual suspect the long shadow of the nuclear accident in Japan in March 2011! Please see the panic created by the presence of high radiation levels in Californian beaches.This writer noted that the US geologists discovered monazite, a mineral containing thorium, a naturally radioactive material in those beaches over 109 years ago. D T Day reported it in 1905. The monumental book titled "The Geologic Occurrence of Monazite" by William C Street, referred to it. No news outlet cared to locate such an authentic source of information and convey it to the concerned public.You do not need a Ph D to be an expert in environmental radioactivity. All soils contain radioactivity. The top one meter soil in any area, of 0.1 acre, contains mainly the following important, naturally occurring radioactive materials. Potassium: 11,200 kg (it has 1.28 kg of potassium-40, a radioactive isotope of potassium); thorium: 3.6 kg and uranium: one kg. In high level natural radiation areas of Kerala, a State in the south west corner of India thorium levels are ten times more. I tried my best to place some of these issues in mainstream news papers. They do not care. Every one wants sensation. (Environmental radioactivity is one of the topics I specialized in!) K S Parthasarathy Ph.D

fblocker - 1/29/2014 7:43 AM
0 Votes This guy doesn't have a Ph.D. This country is full of people with doctoral degrees. I am one. It seems to me that a story looking for experts would find a scientist with a Ph.D. and peer reviewed articles on the subject in question.

Dankster - 1/28/2014 8:37 PM
0 Votes
Starfish, sometimes called Sea Stars, have been dying off along the entire west coast of North America and observers have seen them literally "melting" in place. One day healthy looking, the next disintegrated. There are also reports of the entire Sardine population in the western Pacific completely disappearing this year. Google it! It's even being reported in the MSM. Not to say it's known that these incidents are resulting from Fu**shima radiation, but what could it be? Warming oceans? Something is happening and nobody seems to know exactly why. By the way, why wasn't I allowed to post my comment with the word F.U.K.U.S.H.I.M.A spelled out? The message I get is "Your comment text contained a form of the censored word Fu***shima" and cannot be posted" Good grief!

MartinSansone - 1/28/2014 7:13 PM
0 Votes
Quote: "Modern technology shows that there is no increased level of radiation due to Fu ku," he said." So the EPA had no need to raise safety levels for radionuclides by 24,000 times in the last two years then ? By the way, before nuclear weapons and power stations - so called "background" radiation was virtually zero. show spikes regularly happening in waves across the country reaching 400 clicks per minute. But hush hush... its clearly all good for us.

charlie155 - 1/28/2014 4:28 PM
0 Votes
These experts speak like fools, so i suspect there creditials. First off it isnt the radiation that is the worry, its the radioactive particle that this radiation uptick is evident of. Inhaling or ingesting these particles is deadly. "Normal" radiation like the kind they tell you isnt bad, has nothing to do with radioactive particles. That is just radiation, already emitted energy that passes through you. You cant inhale or ingest radiation The other wrong thing said is if all of nuclear material got into the ocean it would be no problem. Who is that guy???? There is 150 TONS of molten cores, what they call coruim, unaccounted for and admittedly have no idea where they are. 150 tons, and it would only take a few pounds of this stuff to contaminate the entire earth, let alone 150 tons. As for the previous nuclear testing and mishapps. Those was one time releases/explosions or accident, except for chynobl. But at daihci the release has been continual and unchecked for 3 years now. In the air, ocean and soil. Not just one release... continual. Not good. Soon it will be in the rain. That japan shut off the social media in oct 2013 and then in nov passed that secrecy law. That tells you where there head is. They contaminated 30 mill people in toyko, and now its starting to show. They had to keep the lid on it as long as they can. I hope they are held responsible for there deeds. Doubt that will happen. NOw that this is all history, its best to educate yourself. Go to the real sources and gain the knowledge to get a little understanding of this problem and how to deal with it, if at all possible. With the misinformation out there it is hard to tell what is right. Then you will be armed with the knowledge to make a informed personal decision concerning nuclear problems. Only smart way to approach this.

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