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DHSS Press Release



Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Carl Kanefsky, Communications Director
(302) 255-9047, Pager
Email: carl.kanefsky@state.de.us

Date: March 18, 2011
DHSS-23-2011





DPH ADDRESSES CONCERNS ABOUT RADIATION


In the wake of last Friday's major earthquake and ensuing tsunami that damaged several nuclear power plants in Japan, Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) is reassuring Delawareans that Delaware is not expected to experience any harmful levels of radiation.

DPH provides the following information to address concerns about health and safety related to radiation.

A number of federal agencies, including the Department of Energy (DOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) are continually monitoring radiation levels of air, drinking water, milk and precipitation across the country. An EPA nationwide monitoring network, RadNet, will alert the agencies to any changes in radiation levels. Additional monitoring sites in Hawaii, Alaska and Guam have also been added in the wake of the evolving situation in Japan. At this time, no U.S. states are expected to experience harmful levels of radiation.

Should people take potassium iodide (KI) for protection?

DPH advises that there is no reason to purchase or take potassium iodide (KI) because of what has happened in Japan. Elevated levels of radiation are not expected in the United States. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission also has issued guidance stating that taking KI is not recommended.

KI is a chemical compound that can be used for short term protection of the thyroid gland from exposure to radioactive iodine, only one of many radioactive materials that may be released from a nuclear power plant. KI is only effective at protecting a person's thyroid gland from airborne or ingested radioiodine if taken within a relatively narrow timeframe prior to or after exposure. It does not protect any other organs in the body.

Should people take other precautions?

Because of the low threat of radioactivity exposure in the U.S., the federal government is not advising people to take any special protective measures at this time. Staying informed is the best step for people to take.

How harmful is radiation?

Radiation is present in our environment, usually at very low levels known as background radiation. In addition, people who undergo certain medical tests or procedures such as an x-ray are exposed to low-level radiation that is generally not considered harmful.

The levels of radiation being released from the damaged nuclear power plants in Japan are constantly being assessed. DPH has no reason to believe radiation from Japan will affect Delaware.

DPH will continue to communicate with various federal agencies to determine appropriate steps to take as the situation in Japan evolves, and will issue additional guidance if necessary.

More information is available at:

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.



Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.





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