With news reports today that rain water in Boston shows low levels of radiation, likely from Japan’s nuclear crisis, can any state be safe from these effects? Additional reports from North Carolina’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources relate a slight increase in radioiodine in the air in that state, with similar reports from South Carolina.
The Carolinas and Massachusetts are a long way from Japan–further than Alaska, California and even Oklahoma. With central and southwest Oklahoma experiencing a severe drought, many Oklahomans eagerly await rain. With both areas forecast to receive rain tonight and tomorrow, will radiation also be part of the package?
Government officials on all levels in these states are advising that these low levels of radiation are not harmful to humans. As it turns out, scientists know very little about the effects of low doses of radiation, states Richard Knox in his NPR health blog. NewScientist, in its March 23, 2011 edition urges health officials to act immediately to begin to learn everything we can about health effects of low-level radiation exposure.
Oklahomans who may have felt safe from realizing any effects from the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster need to exercise cautious concern. Experts say a partial meltdown has likely occurred at the Japanese plant; no one can say for how long radiation will be present in the atmosphere from this episode. Debora MacKenzie at NewScientist reports that the radioactive fallout from the Fukushima plant is nearing the levels from the Chernobyl disaster.
There remain many unanswered questions about worldwide effects of radiation in the atmosphere. The current low levels of radiation exposure in the United States may be safe for humans, but what about plants and animals? Since these things have much more exposure to the elements in time and duration than do most humans, are they more likely to be harmed? Or can/will the radiation exposure interfere with DNA, resulting in changes over years and decades to species?
No one, not even those who live in the heartlands, can feel with any assurance that their lives will not be affected in some way by the nuclear crisis in Japan. Remaining informed is the one thing all citizens can do. As Americans, and as global neighbors, we are all in this together.
Smack dab in the middle of the baby boomer generation, L.L. Woodard is a proud resident of “The Red Man” state. With what he hopes is an everyman’s view of life’s concerns both in his state and throughout the nation, Woodard presents facts and opinions based on common-sense solutions.