IEMA continues sampling to track Japanese radiation levels

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

(April 8, 2011) –- The Illinois Emergency Management  Agency (IEMA) today said the latest round of testing to assess the extent of radioactivity in Illinois from the Fukushima nuclear power plants in Japan found trace amounts of radioactive iodine in air, grass, milk and rainwater samples as well as minute levels of cesium in some milk samples.

 The agency stressed that these findings are still far below established limits and present no health hazard to citizens in Illinois.

 “The results from our continued sampling reinforce the fact that radiation from the Fukushima nuclear power plant poses absolutely no danger to people in Illinois,” said IEMA Director Jon Monken. “We will continue to collect and analyze samples from around the state until the situation in Japan is resolved.”

 New test results include:

• Air samples taken at IEMA’s lab in Springfield  between March 28 and April 4  showed lower levels of iodine-131 levels than samples taken between March 21 – 28.  The concentrations detected are more than 2,000 times less than the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC) limit for airborne emissions.  (Note: due to a unit conversion error, this was previously reported as more than 200,000 times less than the limit.)

• Grass and vegetation samples collected in southern Illinois last week were found to have trace amounts of iodine-131, cesium-137 and cesium-134. Grass and vegetation samples collected in central Illinois only showed minute levels of iodine-131. The iodine-131 was less than 25 percent of the FDA guideline for human consumption, while the cesium-137 and cesium-134 were less than one percent of the FDA guideline.

• Milk samples collected in southern Illinois last week were found to have trace levels of iodine-131. No radioactivity was detected in milk samples collected in northern Illinois. The highest concentration measured is more than 240 times less than the guideline established by the FDA.

• Rain water samples collected at IEMA facilities in Springfield and West Chicago within the last week had minute levels of iodine-131.  The concentrations detected are more than 30 times less than the limit  for liquid effluents released from operating nuclear power plants.

A report on the findings to date as well as information about sampling procedures and regulatory limits for these radionuclides has been posted on the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov and the IEMA website at www.iema.illinois.gov. This report will be updated periodically as new results are available.