The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Sunday that it has found radioactive iodine in rainwater water in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts at levels higher that those considered safe in drinking water.
“It is important to note that the corresponding MCL for iodine-131 was calculated based on long-term chronic exposures over the course of a lifetime – 70 years. The levels seen in rainwater are expected to be relatively short in duration,” the agency states in a FAQ that accompanied yesterday’s brief news release.
EPA said it is receiving “verbal reports” of higher levels of radiation in rainwater samples from other states as well, and that Americans should continue to expect short-term contamination of rainwater as radioactive isotopes spread through the atmosphere from Japan.
“We continue to expect similar reports from state agencies and others across the nation given the nature and duration of the Japanese nuclear incident.”
The agency said it has ordered samples from 78 drinking water systems. It has also ordered immediate sampling of cow’s milk around the country. Milk sampling is important, EPA said, because in situations involving large releases of radioactive iodine, cows grazing on contaminated grass will accumulate the iodine in their milk. A complete analysis of the cow milk can take three days.
EPA’s only recommendation to state and local governments is to continue to coordinate closely with EPA, CDC and FDA – EPA will continue to communicate our nationwide sampling results as they come in.