BY JIM DOOLEY – There have been no public health threats generated so far in Hawaii by ongoing nuclear radiation leaks in Japan, officials of the state Health Department and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration told a Senate committee today.
Lynn Nakasone, administrator of the state Environmental Health Division, said tests are being conducted of air, rain water, drinking water and milk by her office with negligible results to date.
Slightly elevated levels of radioactive materials were detected in air quality and in milk, she said.
The air quality radiation levels rose slightly after three explosions at the Fukushima nuclear energy facility in Japan but have been dropping since then, said Nakasone and Jeffrey Eckerd of the DOH.
Similar findings were made after samples of rainwater were taken here and sent to an Environmental Protection Agency lab in Alabama, they said. Samples taken April 4 showed two picocuries of radiation per liter.
Eckerd called that “trace levels” and said the EPA “action level” of three picocuries per liter could only be attained by drinking two liters of rainwater every day for 70 years.
Extremely low levels of radioactive iodine 131, cesium 134 and cesium 137 were detected in milk supplies here and reported to the public April 10 by the Health Department.
Drinking 4,000 cups of milk with those levels of radioactivity would produce the same amount of radioactivity as a dental X-ray, said Nakasone.
FDA personnel from the Mainland said via a speakerphone connection that the United States has blocked importation of “food and field” products from four Japanese prefectures and has increased screening of other imports.
“We don’t have any record of any objectionable findings,” said John Verbeten, Acting Director of the FDA’s Import Operations Branch.
The testimony was delivered before the Senate Health Committee, chaired by Sen. Josh Green, D-3rd Dist (North and South Kohala, North and South Kona).
The Health Department and FDA officials said close monitoring and inspections will continue into the foreseeable future and will be ramped up further if additional large radiation releases occur in Japan.