Health officials from Los Angeles to British Columbia have publicly stated that radiation released in Japan is not a threat to the health of people living in the western-most parts of California, Washington and British Columbia, where the leaked radiation potentially could have been carried by winds. British Columbia’s health officer, Dr. Perry Kendall said, “Modeling of possible scenarios suggest that any release into the atmosphere of nuclear particles would take five to six days to reach British Columbia, by which time it would be so dispersed as to be not considered a health risk.” Source: (bclocalnews.com)
The Washington State Department of Health has published related information online taking the same position. In their Frequently Asked Questions page they said, “We don’t expect significant levels of radioactivity in our state, and there’s no health risk. Japan is thousands of miles from our state, and if radioactivity from the reactors there is released to the upper atmosphere it would be thinned-out by the winds before it could reach us.” (Source: DOH.wa.gov) The Los Angeles County health officer, Dr. Jonathon Fielding said, “We do not consider that there is a significant risk of exposure to harmful levels of radiation in the United States at this time.” Source: (surfsantamonica.com)
Some people living in California were buying potassium iodide pills in a rush, but they have been said to be unnecessary by the State of California, and potentially harmful if taken without being properly informed, “Cal EMA, along with its state and federal partners, would like to assure the public that there is no threat posed to California or the U.S. as a result of this situation and no need to take potassium iodide, which could cause undue health risks. ” (Source: ema.ca.gov)
Santa Clara County’s health officer, Dr. Martin Fenstersheib said, “I understand that people are afraid of the unknown. Even with earthquakes, we’re used to them. It’s a scary thing when people say ‘nuclear contamination.’ It’s something you can’t see, and because you can’t see it, people are afraid. It’s a normal human reaction. But there’s no risk at this point.” (Source: Mercurynews.com) Santa Clara County is part of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Even in Hawaii, which is hundreds of miles closer to Japan, there is no health risk yet. Their state Health department interim director said, “There is no increased risk of harmful levels of radiation exposure in Hawaii based on the situation to date at the nuclear power complex in Japan.” (Source: bigislandvideonews.com)
In response to the release of radiation several thousands of miles away in Japan, the US federal government has deployed more radiation monitors in the West for earlier detection should any radiation appear there.
Image Credit: NASA