japan-earthquake-image.jpgBay Area officials said that it is “very unlikely” that radiation leaking from Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station would reach the shores of California.

“It would take a much larger blast than what has occurred for radiation from the power plant to get into the jet stream,” said Eric Stevenson, the director of technical services for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

“Even if that were to happen, we still expect radiation moving west would dissipate before reaching California shores,” he said.

The Air District, which operates a radiation monitor in San Francisco, has been following the radiation levels using its equipment, which is capable of identifying very small changes in ambient air levels of radiation.

Last week, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami pummeled the northeast coast of Honshu, Japan’s largest and most populated island. Entire communities were swept away by the natural disaster, which heavily damaged the nuclear power station located about 180 miles north-northeast of Tokyo.

“It is very unlikely that the radiation from the tragedy in Japan will impact the United States,” Stevenson said.

To date, all measurements in the Bay Area are within normal background levels, according to the Air District.

The monitor operated by the Air District is part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s national radiation monitoring network, which regularly collects air, precipitation, drinking water and milk samples for analysis of radioactivity.

The EPA and the Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission have both indicated that there are no harmful levels of radiation expected to reach the United States.

The California Department of Public Health is urging the public not to take potassium iodide tablets as a precautionary measure.

The tablets can be dangerous, the public health department said, if they are ingested by people with allergies to iodine or shellfish or those who have thyroid problems.

Taken inappropriately, the tablets can have serious side effects, including abnormal heart rhythms, nausea, vomiting, electrolyte abnormalities and bleeding.

The Air District said it will provide updates on its website at www.baaqmd.gov.

Patricia Decker, Bay City News

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