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Radiation From Japan Makes Its Way To Maryland

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Some radiation from Japan has already made its way to the United States. State health officials confirm they’ve detected small levels of radiation right here in Maryland.

Derek Valcourt explains how much radiation there is and where it’s been found.

Minuscule amounts of radiation have been detected in the air and even in the recent rains, but officials say the levels are so small, there’s no need to worry.

It was 32 years ago Monday when the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania suffered a partial core meltdown and public confidence in nuclear power was first shaken.  While a small group held a vigil to mark the anniversary, they’re also expressing concerns over the troubles at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, where leading radiation has now traveled through the atmosphere all the way to Maryland.  In fact, routine air sampling near Maryland’s Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant detected small amounts of radiation Friday.

“We are talking about exceeding small amounts of radioactivity and not something that should cause any kind of concern,” said Maryland Health Secretary Dr. Joshua Sharfstein.

Sharfstein confirms that tests of a rainwater sample in Baltimore on Monday detected a very small amount of a radioactive form of iodine called iodine 131, similar to the levels already found in neighboring Pennsylvania and further north in Massachusetts.

The EPA says those rainwater radiation levels are “about 25 times below the level that would be of concern…even for the most vulnerable infants and pregnant women.”

“We were not able — even with the most sensitive of equipment — to detect any radioactive material in any of the public water systems or in milk,” Sharfstein said.

He says any rainwater entering the reservoirs or rivers gets diluted and then goes through a filtering process through the ground or at a treatment plant before it comes to a faucet.  But in an abundance of caution, Maryland will now increase its radiation testing.

“This just allows us to be on top of it and prove information to the public if anything were to change,” Sharfstein said.

He says the state will now conduct radiation testing at least once a week.

Health officials here say our water and food supplies are safe.

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