How the FDA and EPA are Protecting US Consumer's Food and Water Supply from Japan's Nuclear Disaster's Cancer Causing Radiation
So just how is the FDA and EPA protecting the US consumer's food and water supply from cancer causing radiation fallout from Japan's nuclear disaster? Do American consumers need to be concerned? In a joint statement issued by the FDA and EPA on March 30, the word is that in response to the ongoing nuclear disaster in Japan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has taken steps to increase the level of nationwide monitoring of milk, precipitation, drinking water, and other potential exposure routes.
As the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has said, they do not expect to see radiation at harmful levels reaching the U.S. from damaged Japanese nuclear power plants. The EPA is utilizing the existing nationwide RadNet radiation monitoring system, which continuously monitors the nation's air and regularly monitors drinking water, milk and precipitation for environmental radiation.
As part of the federal government's continuing effort to make their activities and science transparent and available to the public, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will continue to keep all RadNet data available in the current online database. The RadNet online searchable database contains historical data of environmental radiation monitoring data from all fifty states and U.S. territories. The EPA is working with its federal partners and has deployed additional monitors to Hawaii, Alaska, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
The EPA conducts radiological monitoring of milk under its RADNET program, while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has jurisdiction over the safety, labeling and identity of milk and milk products in interstate commerce. States have jurisdiction over those facilities located within their territory.
Results from a screening sample taken March 25 from Spokane, WA detected 0.8 pCi/L of iodine-131, which is more than 5,000 times lower than the Derived Intervention Level set by FDA. These types of findings are to be expected in the coming days and are far below levels of public health concern, including for infants and children. Iodine-131 has a very short half-life of approximately eight days, and the level detected in milk and milk products is therefore expected to drop relatively quickly.
“Radiation is all around us in our daily lives, and these findings are a miniscule amount compared to what people experience every day. For example, a person would be exposed to low levels of radiation on a round trip cross country flight, watching television, and even from construction materials,” said Patricia Hansen, an FDA senior scientist.
The EPA’s recommendation to state and local governments is to continue to coordinate closely with EPA, FDA and CDC. The EPA will continue to communicate their nationwide sampling results as they come in. You can stay updated by checking in on the EPA's daily data summary page.
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Sources: NRC, EPA, FDA,
Picture Source: Alexander Higgins Blog