The Virginia Department of Health said late yesterday that it would move up by one week its routine quarterly monitoring schedule for radiation levels and begin testing today.
This routine monitoring checks radiation levels in air, drinking water, vegetation and milk at multiple sites throughout the state.
In a rare Sunday afternoon news release, the Virginia State Health Commissioner Dr. Karen Remley said that the decision was made after very low levels of radiation were detected in other states. The detection of radioactive material in the United States is caused by damage to Japan’s nuclear plant.
“To date, none of Virginia’s multiple monitoring systems has detected a level of radioactive material that would pose a public-health concern,” Remley said. “Recent reports of elevated levels of radioactive material in rainwater in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts have been expected, since radiation is known to travel in the atmosphere, however, we are not seeing that in any of the monitoring data for the state.”
In addition to moving up the routine testing schedule, the state is working on a baseline testing plan for rainwater, drinking water, vegetation and milk.
The state has advised Virginians “out of an abundance of caution” to avoid drinking rainwater collected in cisterns.
Read more about the U.S. government’s response, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s radiation monitoring and the CDC’s frequently asked questions. It’s also worth noting that government officials said the detection of low levels of radioactive material in the US was expected in the aftermath of the nuclear power plant damage in Japan.