According to reports from the New York Times and Associated Press, low levels of radioactive iodine from the compromised Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan have been found in milk in California and Washington state. Last week, tests of milk in Spokane, Wash. turned up some contamination. Tests done at a dairy in San Luis Obispo County on March 28 showed the same level of contamination, according to the California Department of Public Health. However, the Environmental Protection Agency assures that the levels are far below those at which action would need to be taken. In fact, the contamination levels would have to be 5,000 times higher to reach the “intervention level” set by the Food and Drug Administration.
“These types of findings are to be expected in the coming days and are far below levels of public health concern, including for infants and children,” the Times quoted the EPA as saying. Furthermore, production of iodine 131 stopped when the Fukushima reactors were shut down March 11.
If iodine in the air is deposited on grass eaten by cows, the cows will reconcentrate it in their milk by a factor of 1,000, according to the Times. Exposure to large amounts of iodine 131 has been linked to thyroid cancer. That's large amounts, not miniscule amounts.
Hopefully we won't be watching Anderson Cooper broadcasting from a California dairy farm tonight. There's still enough to cover in Libya, it sounds like.