Americans on the West Coast are still concerned that radiation from the damaged Fukushima nuclear facility in Japan could make its way to US shores. Potassium iodide pills, which can help prevent cancer in cases of exposure to radiation, have been flying off store shelves and selling out at online retailers. Several government agencies, meanwhile, have released statements downplaying the danger in hopes of controlling the panic.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency released such a statement, saying they mare monitoring the situation and tracking levels of radiation at a number of different locations across the western portion of the country. The agency says it has not discovered any major increases in radiation as of Friday.
The EPA utilizes an extensive network of radiation detecting monitors called RadNet, which gather information about radiation levels in real time. If there is a spike in radiation levels, the system immediately notifies scientists who can then determine the significance of the threat and release appropriate alerts to the public.
The US Department of Energy, meanwhile, has its own radiation monitoring system that is reportedly so sensitive it can detect even the smallest amount of radioactive presence in the air. A monitoring system in Sacramento did detect trace amounts of radiation in the air late last week, but authorities said the amounts were so small that they posed no threat to human health. Another detection sytem in Washington found tiny amounts of Xenon, a gas that is typically produced from nuclear fission, but again the amounts were not significant enough to pose a threat.
While the news of radioactive substances being discovered is alarming, officials say that the normal daily dose of radiation is 100,000 times higher than anything that has yet been detected.