Monday, March 28, 2011

Radioactive snow reported by New Hampshire Public Health

The NH department of Public Health is reporting that they have detected radioactive snowfall on 3/28/11. "The level was measured at approximately 40 pCi/L (picocuries per liter)". This level of contamination is over 13 times greater than the 3 pCi/L Maximum Contaminant level established by the EPA for yearly exposure. Given the potential ongoing nature of the Fukushima releases, the reported values may be of concern.

The NHPHS identifies the source as "radioiodine, or I-131". Hopefully they actually have the ability to detect the difference between I-131 and I-129. The former has a half life of days, the latter has a half life of millions of years. In a fission reaction one atom of I-129 is produced for every three atoms of I-131. (the health risks) One thing is for certain, Ms X would not want to be eating cranberries or maple syrup from a location that is getting this kind of dosing over an entire growing season. Lets pray that there is no radioactive cesium in these snow falls, and that if there is that authorities expediently inform us.

The entire press release from New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services may be found below, followed by a link to potential radioactive Cesium fallout concentrations (relative to Japan) in the USA.

Press Release

Low Level of Radiation Found in a Sample of Snow
Public Information Office
(603) 271-6526
Division of Public Health Services
Publish Date:
March 28, 2011

Concord, NH – The Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) is announcing results of a snow sample processed by the Public Health Labs over the weekend. The sample was collected from the DPHS radiological detection equipment in Concord. The test results show low levels of radioiodine, or I-131, which are consistent with findings from other states as a result of the nuclear reactor crisis in Japan. The level was measured at approximately 40 pCi/L (picocuries per liter).

“In New Hampshire we do not typically test rain or snow samples during the winter season,” said Dr. José Montero, DPHS Director. “However, we felt it was prudent to take the initiative and do some expanded testing. This is not an unexpected finding and we may continue to see similar activity until the crisis in Japan stabilizes. I want to be clear that this does not constitute a threat to the public in New Hampshire and there are no actions people should be taking as a result of this finding.”

The results of DPHS’ radiological detection program are submitted automatically to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This is part of a national program to monitor radiation levels around the country and data are complied by the EPA. DPHS does historic monitoring of radiation across the State on a regular basis and will continue to do so. Monitoring for radioactivity in the air, waters, and soil is done on a continuing basis in New Hampshire. DPHS will conduct additional testing as necessary relative to the evolving situation in Japan.

“For those who may be concerned about this finding I would like to put this in perspective,” said Montero. “The amount of radiation detected is at least 25 times below the level that would be of concern for use as a sole source of water over a short period of time, even for infants, pregnant women or breastfeeding women, who are the most sensitive to radiation. We will be updating the public as further information becomes available.”
Displayed is a potential Cesium fallout map, follow the link for maps of other elements.

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