Local Scientists Monitoring Levels Around San Diego County
7:50 AM, Mar 18, 2011
The Environmental Protection Agency Friday confirmed trace amounts of radioactive material from Japan were been detected in California and in other parts of the country.The EPA issued the following statement that read, in part: "The United States Government has an extensive network of radiation monitors around the country and no radiation levels of concern have been detected. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency RadNet system is designed to protect the public by notifying scientists, in near real time, of elevated levels of radiation so they can determine whether protective action is required. The EPA's system has not detected any radiation levels of concern In addition to EPA's RadNet system, the U.S. Department of Energy has radiation monitoring equipment at research facilities around the country, which have also not detected any radiation levels of concern."Experts 10News spoke to say air quality monitors set up across California have not detected any levels considered harmful.Scientists at San Diego State University's visualization laboratory are keeping a close eye on the radioactive levels, with some researchers fanning out across San Diego County with hand-held monitors."I this doubled, it wouldn't matter. If it tripled, it wouldn't matter. We could go 8 times this and it really wouldn't matter," said Dr. Murray Jennex, a nuclear power plant expert and SDSU professor.Jennex is traveling across the county with hand-held air monitor that detects radioactive material. As of Friday afternoon, his monitor displayed a reading of 14. Jennex said it could reach 500 and the air would still be considered safe."We do not live in a radiation-free world. You're near a microwave, you're near the TV, you use a cell phone, you're out in the sun. All that is radiation and this detector is reading what is our normal background radiation and if it goes up even a little bit, that's insignificant," said Jennex.The EPA has air monitoring stations set up in 12 cities across California. One station sits on top of a roof in San Diego, but the agency asked 10News not to reveal its location.The radioactive plume from Japan has a projected path of 5,000 miles. A diplomatic source told the Associated Press tiny radioactive particles were detected in California, but the EPA said none of its monitors has picked up any harmful levels.Parents at a playground in Mission Bay were not overly concerned. Ashley Garcia is six months pregnant, but realistic about the risks."I'm not really concerned about it. Just kind of live your live the way you do until people say otherwise," said Garcia."I'm not too concerned about the radiation levels as far as the thousands of miles it takes to get here. I'm certainly concerned about the Japanese people and the impact on the economy," said Tom Anderson, who was with his family at the park.Jennex said he doesn't anticipate a significant increase in any of the levels, but he'll continue carrying his monitor through the weekend.