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Hawaii News

Low levels of Japanese radiation found

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Trace amounts of radiation from Japan’s nuclear crisis were detected in Hawaii for the first time Monday night as fallout spread as far as Iceland, officials said yesterday.

A monitor on the roof of the state Health Department building on Oahu detected "minuscule levels" of an undetermined isotope consistent with the Fuku­shima reactor complex radiation release, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said.

The isotope was "far below any level of concern for human health," the EPA said. It added that the "detection varies from background and historical data in Hawaii."

The sample is being sent to the EPA’s national radiation lab in Ala­bama for identification.

"Once we get further analysis done and more information, we’ll definitely let everyone know," said EPA spokes­man Dean Higu­chi.

Over the past several days, the EPA’s RadNet monitors in San Francisco and Seattle, and in Riverside and Ana­heim, Calif., detected similarly small amounts of radioactive particles consistent with the Japa­nese nuclear incident, including cesium-137, tellurium-132 and iodine-131 and 132, the agency said.

John Learned, a physics professor at the University of Hawaii, said the radiation "will eventually get everywhere in the world," carried by wind and the sea.

"The bulk of their (Japan’s) radioactivity is going into the ocean," he said. That radiation will be "tremendously diffused," but it will go up to Alaska and down the West Coast before it reaches Hawaii.

Learned added that the radiation is "nothing like the air burst nuclear testing that went on in years from the past."

Iceland was the first location in Europe to detect the fallout from Japan, Reuters reported.

The EPA set up mobile RadNet detectors in Lihue on Kauai and in Kahuku on the North Shore. Radiation data from the Health Department and Kauai monitors is available to the public at https://cdxnode64.epa.gov/radnet-public/showMap.do. The EPA said it is working to provide public information from the Kahuku monitor.

The Health Department RadNet detector provides information in CPM, or radiation counts per minute, for energy ranges that represent different radionuclides, officials said. The Kauai detector measures millirems per hour.

The EPA said in a typical day, Americans receive doses of radiation from natural sources like rocks, bricks and the sun that are about 100,000 times higher than the radioactivity detected coming from Japan.

The levels from Japan are 100,000 times lower than the radiation received from taking a round-trip international flight, the agency said.

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