Tiny amounts of radiation have apparently reached California, but scientists say it’s not dangerous. The readings so far indicate levels far below those that could endanger people.
If the crisis in Japan worsens, and the crippled plants discharge huge amounts of dangerous particles, it will still take almost a week to reach California, said Lee Cantrell, Pharm.D. from the UCSD Poison Control Center.
"We have plenty of lead time to mobilize and activate all the emergency services that we've had in place for decades," said Cantrell.
You can track radiation levels yourself. The website, radiationnetwork.com, collects data from around the nation and displays it in almost real time. The website also explains how the data is gathered and what the numbers mean.
"At this point the amount of radiation that's been detected is not even close to coming to levels that would cause harm to humans," said Cantrell.
A United Nations diplomat with access to radiation tracking says initial readings show radiation levels at one-billionth of what could cause health problems. Scientists say the radioactive particles lose energy and are diluted as they travel across the Pacific Ocean.
"We're 5,000 miles away, which would have a major dispersal effect on any radiation that reaches the atmosphere. We do not anticipate any amounts of radiation that will cause any ill health effects," said Howard Backer from the Calif. Department of Public Health.
Experts say don't waste your money on Geiger counters, facemasks, iodine pills or protective clothing.
"We're not recommending that people go out and do any of those things," said Cantrell. “"There's minerals in the earth that just naturally release trace amounts of radioactive energy, so we're exposed every day to it."
Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration is monitoring foods imported from Japan. The agency is collecting information on where those foods are grown, harvested and made, so it can make sure those products are not dangerous.