Though radiation sampling in recent weeks has shown fallout from Fukushima in rain, drinking water and milk, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced yesterday that it is returning to its regular program of quarterly sampling.
After a thorough data review showing declining radiation levels related to the Japanese nuclear incident, EPA has returned to the routine RadNet sampling and analysis process for precipitation, drinking water and milk.
As always, EPA’s RadNet system of more than 100 stationary monitors will continue to provide EPA scientists near-real-time data on the slightest fluctuations in background radiation levels. Due to the consistently decreasing radiation levels, EPA is evaluating the need to continue operating the additional air monitors deployed in response to the Japan nuclear incident. EPA’s will continue to analyze air filters and cartridges from all air monitors as they arrive at the laboratory and will post the data as available..
In accordance with normal RadNet protocol, EPA will be analyzing milk and drinking water samples on a quarterly basis and precipitation samples as part of a monthly composite. The next round of milk and drinking water sampling will take place in approximately three months.
It is important to note that all of the radiation levels detected by RadNet monitors and sampling have been very low, are well below any level of public health concern, and continue to decrease overtime. EPA continues to work with federal partners to monitor the situation in Japan and stands prepared to accelerate radiation sampling and analysis if the need arises. Data will continue to be available on EPA’s public website.
During the stepped up sampling EPA identified radioactive iodine (I-131) in rainwater at levels that exceed limits for drinking water and in some areas milk was found to have more I-131 than allowed by EPA.
Researchers at the Dept. of Nuclear Engineering at University California Berkeley have documented radioactive cesium in the topsoil in California, which has given rise to concerns that radioactive particles may enter the food supply.
Nuclear experts at Fairewinds Associates are providing ongoing reports on the Fukushima situation, including information on independent testing for fallout in the U.S.