So, is the radiation in the air harmful? Not in this case, since the amount is small and the spike in radiation didn't last long, said Eleanor Blakely, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
The radioactive sulfur in question is more harmful through internal exposure, such as when it's eaten, than when people are exposed to it on their skin, explained Dr. Kory Gill, an assistant professor at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. "The concern here, however, would be if these radioactive elements were in the water and atmosphere at higher than originally thought levels," Gill said, since that could expose people to radiation through food and water.
Authorities reported last spring that they'd found radiation from Japan in milk in California and Washington state, but there's such a tiny amount that it's thought to be extremely far from posing a health risk.
The new study appears in this week's online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Learn more about radiation exposure from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Antra Priyadarshi, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher, University of California at San Diego; Kory Gill, M.D., assistant professor, Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, and physician, Texas A&M Physicians, Bryan, Texas; Eleanor Blakely, Ph.D., scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, Calif.; Aug. 15-19, 2011, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online
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