Local News

State: No elevated health risk from radiation in NC

Posted March 31, 2011 2:10 p.m. EDT
Updated March 31, 2011 2:33 p.m. EDT

— State environmental health officials said Thursday that daily monitoring of radiation levels in North Carolina has found nothing to indicate any public health risk.

The Radiation Protection Section of the Division of Environmental Health began checking this week for radioactive isotopes in the air and water statewide, as well as in samples of milk, shellfish and vegetation.

Last week, both Progress Energy and Duke Energy reported trace amounts levels of iodine-131, a radioactive byproduct of nuclear fission, at some of their nuclear plants. The radiation came from a nuclear reactor in Japan that was damaged three weeks ago by an earthquake and tsunami.

“What we are seeing in this situation is similar to what states across the country, including North Carolina, saw following the 1986 incident at the Chernobyl plant in Russia," Gerald Speight, environmental program consultant in the Radiation Protection Section, said in a statement. "Now, as it was then, these results indicate no risk to public health.”

State officials said someone would have to breathe air with the elevated levels of radiation reported for 2,000 years to get the same exposure as a single X-ray. Still, they plan to continue monitoring radiation levels in North Carolina to see if anything changes in the coming days and weeks.