No threat from radiation now reaching the West Coast from Japan - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

No threat from radiation now reaching the West Coast from Japan

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(AP/CBS 8) - Federal and state officials say testing indicates there are no health threats along the West Coast from radioactivity spewing from Japan's crippled nuclear reactors.

A radioactive plume reached Southern California Friday, but authorities say it has dissipated so much it poses no health risk to residents.

 Health and radiation experts say any radioactive materials that may have been carried the 5,500 miles across the ocean from Japan to the United States are highly diluted and harmless.

"Everything that you can get exposed to right now is much less than what you would get with a typical chest X-ray," said Dr. Richard Clark, director of the UCSD Division of Medical Toxicology.

Dr. Clark told News 8 that typical exposure to the outside - including sunlight -- poses more of a threat. "I would say it is more harmful to have your child exposed to the sun without sunscreen than it is to walk outside with anything that's coming over from Japan right now," he said.

The U.S. Department of Energy said minuscule amounts of the radioactive isotopes had reached a Sacramento monitoring station, but again the readings were far below levels that could pose any health risks.

The DOE says a detector at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington State earlier this week detected trace amounts of xenon-133 - a gas produced during nuclear fission.

Federal officials say the doses that a person normally receives from rocks, bricks, the sun and other natural background sources are 100,000 times the dose rates detected at either location.

In Alaska, Dr. Bernd Jilly, director of state public health laboratories, also said monitoring had shown no readings of above-normal levels of radiation.

Some are taking unadvisable action, by stockpiling potassium iodide tablets to protect against radioactive exposure. It's a move medical experts are strongly warning against.

"Rather than spending money on potassium iodide, they should take that money and spend it on an emergency preparedness kit for something that's really more of a risk: an earthquake in San Diego, "said Dr. Eric McDonald, deputy director of the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency.

Information contributed by News 8 Reporter Richard Allyn.


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