Radiation Dispersal from Fukushima, Japan: Environmental Radiation Monitoring

Environmental Radiation Monitoring

What is being done to ensure the safety of food imported from Japan?

The FDA and USDA are responsible for ensuring the safety of food in the US. FDA: Questions about Food Safetyexternal icon and FDA, USDA, NOAA Statements on Food Safetyexternal icon.

How could the leaking Japanese reactors contaminate items, like mail or cargo containers?

When radioactive particles are released into the environment, they can be carried on dirt, dust, ash, smoke, water, or other material. When those materials settle onto surfaces, they carry the radioactive particles onto the surfaces with them. Once on a surface, the radioactive particles can be transferred by contact with other surfaces, just as dirt can be transferred by contact between surfaces. This transfer can continue on to other surfaces, generally resulting in lower levels of contamination on each subsequent surface. As these particles are deposited on other surfaces, they continue to give off radiation.

What U.S. Agency is responsible for monitoring for the radiation and radioactivity?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a national network of monitoring stations that regularly collect air, precipitation, drinking water, and milk samples for analysis of radioactivity. The RadNet network, which has stations in each State, has been used to track environmental releases of radioactivity from nuclear weapons tests and nuclear accidents. In addition, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) and the EPA are currently deploying additional monitoring equipment in the Pacific and along the west coast of North America. The DOE has an aerial measurement system (AMS) consisting of several fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
http://www.epa.gov/radiation/external icon

EPA RadNet (environmental radiation monitoring network):
http://www.epa.gov/narel/radnet/external icon

Are there protective measures that workers in the Western U.S. or territories should be taking?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducts environmental radiation monitoring in the United States. EPA and NRC state that they do not expect to see radiation at harmful levels reach U.S. states or territories. (http://www.epa.gov/radiation/statement.htmlexternal icon) For current information, consult your state’s emergency preparedness web site.

Japanese Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami disaster response

United States Government 
http://www.usa.gov/Japan2011.shtmlexternal icon

U.S. Department of State
http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_5378.htmlexternal icon

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
http://www.usaid.gov/japanquake/index.html#helpexternal icon

Red Cross/Red Crescent
http://www.redcross.org/external icon

Page last reviewed: March 21, 2011