It looks like the radioactive crisis in Japan has reached as far away as our Eastern border and New York City. According to New York state officials, small traces of radioactive iodine have been detected in air and rainwater in New York, and they point to the nuclear crisis in Japan as a likely cause. While some are wondering what is being done to protect us from the radioactive iodine, experts agree that the amount is so miniscule, parents should not be concerned with it.
Similar to the radioactive particles that have also been detected in California and Massachusetts, they seem to have drifted with the jet stream eastward from so that when it rains or snows, some of the radioactive particles can fall to the ground.
My Fox NY reports that officials say there is no need to be alarmed:
“New York continues to have safe public drinking water supplies,” said Health Commissioner Nirav Shah. “New York State is closely monitoring the potential health impact from the release of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan,” Dr. Shah said, “but to this point, only trace levels of radiation in the air and in surface waters have been found, and they are far, far below levels that would trigger any health concerns.”
Some New Yorkers are reluctant to believe it. For many, the reassurance that we should not be concerned with the impact on our health is reminiscent of what we were mistakenly told about relief workers who rescued people from the rubble on 9/11. This case is different in that there are advanced technologies available that measure radioactivity. In fact, some say the technology is so advanced that we are even able to detect these trace amounts is outstanding. So when these mere traces are reported, the actual reality of the situation gets lost in the sensationalism surrounded by the findings.
On Good Day NY this morning, Dr. Steve Gardiner, Chairman of the Radiology Department at New York Methodist Hospital says “this is something that is a no-brainer. Don’t lose any sleep over this. Radiation is everywhere. It’s not something that is foreign to us.” He says no one should go out and buy iodine pills which could be even more dangerous, as one out of 40,000 people may have a severe reaction that could kill them.
Furthermore, Dr. Gardiner says the amount is one one-thousandth of a chest x-ray. What he says parents and people in general should be more concerned about is x-rays. Pilots, he points out, get the equivalent of a chest x-ray every time they fly cross country which is why they wear radiation detectors. Even President Obama gets more radiation that the rest of the population, he says, because the White House is made of granite and therefore has twice as much radiation.
“You know what people should be worried about? CAT scans, medical radiation, that’s when you get the most radiation. When you start getting more than 5 CAT scans in your lifetime, you begin to approach a Hiroshima type risk for cancer. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get a CAT scan if you need it, but out of the 80 million CAT scans done last year, it’s estimated that up to 30 percent were not needed,” explains Dr. Gardiner. He advises people to ask their doctor if a CAT scan is absolutely necessary and if the test can be done with a sonogram or MRI instead. If you have a CAT scan, ask the technologist if they are using the lowest possible does which can vary.
As for the particles still hovering over New York, continuous air monitoring is being conducted at 12 sites across upstate New York and at an additional 12 stations located at nuclear facilities, including those in metropolitan New York and Long Island.
Image: D. Sullivan