(By Sarah Kuta,dailycamera.com)
State officials say Coloradans have nothing to worry about
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced Wednesday that it has detected minuscule amounts of radiation in Colorado from the earthquake- and tsunami-ravaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan.
The initial sample, which detected radioactive isotope iodine-131, is being sent to the Environmental Protection Agency for further testing.
Michelle Law, a radiation safety officer for the Department of Health and Environmental Safety at the University of Colorado, said Colorado residents have no reason to be concerned.
"It's a teeny, tiny amount of radiation," she said.
Thinking of running out to buy potassium iodide to protect yourself from that radiation?
"Don't," Law said. "There's actually more risk for taking it."
Dr. Chris Urbina, chief medical officer and executive director of the state health department, said in a statement Wednesday that the side effects of taking potassium iodide far outweigh the benefits. It can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, rashes, allergic reactions, soreness of teeth and gums, and inflammation of the salivary glands, he said.
The EPA measures radiation exposure in a unit called the millirem (mrem). The average Coloradan is exposed to 500 or 600 mrem per year, Law said. The EPA announced Wednesday that the levels of radiation coming from Japan are 100,000 times lower than exposure from a round-trip flight.
"If they're saying 100,000 times less than that, it's hard to even put that into a number," Law said. "There's really no reason to be concerned."