Sue MA Dept of Public Health/Radiation Control
Sun Mar 27, 2011
Subject: Fukushima Radiation in Mass
Rock 'n roll, kids! The radiation from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in Japan has arrived!
I knew this last week, but had to put a lid on it because it wasn't official. It is now.
I work for the MA Dept. of Public Health/Radiation Control Program in MERL (Mass. Environmental Radiation Lab) in Boston, and I was the one who took the rainwater sample off the Gamma detector and printed out the results. I read them. I read them again. I screamed for The Boss. He read them. We both screamed (rarely do we get a hit on anything, so we got a little excited!). I called my coworker who had done the analysis (he was at headquarters that day) and he screamed over the phone. There was a lot of screaming last Wednesday 🙂
The Boss asked me to please re-run the sample and although I'm not a Radiochemist, I was able to do it. These samples analyze for 55,000 seconds, so it's not an instant result. I pulled the sample off the detector again when it was finished, and crept up to the printer. More screaming. It was a certifiable hit. We had Iodine-131 and it was probably from Japan.
We actually felt good about this because it told us that not only are our detectors first-rate (I do the QA/QC on those babies every day), but the analysts, as well. All 3 of us :)).
Now, these levels are low, but they are there. Nothing to worry about; I'll let you know if you need to head to the fallout shelter. Highly unlikely.
Just to explain: We have our own sampling station on the roof (10 stories up) and I go up there every Tuesday to collect a charcoal filter (to test for Iodine-131) and an air filter. I prepare and run the charcoal myself. The I-131 *is not in the air*. It was found in a sample of rainwater we collected as part of EPA's RadNet program; they had just installed their equipment on our roof the week before (great timing, eh?) just before I had my gall bladder surgery. That's where the 'hit' came from. So, it's not in the air, but was in the rainwater.
No worries. Honest. Folks in MA, do NOT run to your doc to get a prescription for Potassium Iodide (KI) to protect your thyroid against 'the radiation.' It's not necessary.
Further sampling is occurring today, so I think it's safe to say we'll be slammed with samples this week.
We're on it.
Here are some links you may wanna read:
From boston.com (online version of the Boston Globe).
And from the Boston Herald:
The official DPH press release:
I'll keep y'all posted on what we get.
Tags: Boston Globe Radiation, BostonGlobe.com, Fukushima Power Plant Accident, Jet Stream Radiation, MA Dept Public Health/Radiation Control, Radiation Falout over America, TEPCO Radiation Tragedy, Tokyo Electric Power Company