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Trace Amounts of Radiation Reach California; No Health Risk, Experts Say
Date:3/19/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, March 18 (HealthDay News) -- Trace amounts of radiation apparently from the crippled nuclear power plant in Japan have started to reach California, but they pose no health risks, according to news reports.

A diplomat with access to radiation tracking by the United Nations' Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization told the Associated Press that initial readings are "about a billion times beneath levels that would be health threatening." The diplomat spoke on the condition of anonymity because the organization doesn't make its findings public, the news service said.

Federal officials and radiation experts in the United States insist there's no threat to public health from the radiation plume, but they are still closely monitoring the situation with detection monitors along the West Coast, the AP said.

The chances of any radioactive plume reaching the United States are "close to zero," Jacqueline Williams, program director for radiation medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center's Center for Biophysical Assessment and Risk Management Following Irradiation, told HealthDay earlier this week.

"Obviously, what's happening [in Japan] is changing from moment to moment," Williams added, "but there seems to be very little in the way to fear."

Levels of radioactivity that have already been released in Japan "are very much dissipated, so by the time it gets to California or the U.S., it would be extremely low levels," agreed Barry Rosenstein, a professor of radiation oncology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

The reason for that, simply, is that "Japan is a long way away," said Williams, who's also vice president of the Radiation Research Society.

While considerable amounts of radiation have escaped from the four damaged reactors in Japan -- and with experts predicting much more, perhaps soon -- any of th
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