Risk to Montana from radiation in Japan is very lowHealth officials continue to monitor
Tuesday, March 22, 2011: Governor Brian Schweitzer and the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS),) is continually monitoring the situation in Japan regarding their nuclear reactors. Along with working with our Federal and State counterparts, Governor Schweitzer is in touch with the Idaho National Lab who are part of the EPA program to monitor environmental radioactivity in the United States. According to officials, at this time there is no immediate or anticipated indication of radioactive material reaching Montana in any quantity sufficient to produce health concerns. We will continue to monitor the situation and notify the public through regular media channels and this website should the situation change.
In addition, DPHHS and local health agencies have received inquiries concerning radiation and any threat Montana may experience if Japanese nuclear power plants fail due to damage from the recent massive earthquake. In a press release from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (attached), U.S. territories are “not expected to experience any harmful levels of radioactivity.” As such, Montana does not expect to see any impact if Japanese nuclear plants lose containment of their radioactive material. Therefore, there are no current recommendations for people to take protective measures in Montana or any part of the U.S.
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From the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services
Frequently Asked Questions:
Why the nuclear incidents in Japan are not a health threat in Montana
How much radioactivity do you expect to come to Montana from Japan’s reactors?
We don’t expect significant levels of radioactivity in our state, and anticipate 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. We could see a very small increase in radiation levels — well below levels that would be a health concern. We’re working with federal, state, and local agencies in a coordinated effort to monitor radiation levels in the air and rainwater.
Would increased radiation levels cause health effects?
At present, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) says Japan’s nuclear emergency presents no danger to the United States. The NRC is involved in the Japan emergency both at home and in Japan. There’s no need for people here to take protective action.
Does the state stockpile potassium iodide (KI)?
The events in Japan do not indicate a need for anyone in Montana to take protective action like using KI. The state does not stockpile KI; there are federal stockpiles of medical supplies including KI for distribution to all states if an emergency made that necessary.
Will taking KI be necessary in Montana in the wake of Japan’s nuclear problems?
We don’t expect significant levels of radioactivity in our state, and anticipate no health risk. Potassium iodide is typically given to people who are very near the source of high levels of radioactive iodine, such as nuclear plant workers or residents near the plant who may not be able to get out of the area soon enough after a nuclear incident. In Japan, for example, the evacuation zone is within 20 kilometers, or about 12 miles, of the plant. We’re thousands of miles away. Due to potential harmful side efforts, DPHHS recommends against KI for people in this state concerned about radiation from the nuclear event in Japan.
How does the state measure radiation in the environment?
RadNet is a national network of monitoring stations that regularly collect air, precipitation, drinking water, and milk samples for analysis of radioactivity. Montana has two RadNet stations (Helena and Billings) that regularly samples environmental sources.
Will the radiation from Japan affect our drinking water in Montana?
No. We do not expect contamination to be detectable in our drinking water supplies.