Milk from Little Rock and drinking water from Philadelphia contained the highest levels of Iodine-131 from Japan yet detected by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to data released by EPA Saturday.
The Philadelphia sample is below the EPA’s maximum contaminant level (MCL) for iodine-131, but the Little Rock sample is almost three times higher.
Nonetheless, the EPA does not consider the milk dangerous because the MCL is set for long-term exposure, and the iodine-131 from Japan’s Fukushima-Daichi nuclear accident is expected to be temporary and deteriorate rapidly.
The state Health Department later issued a statement:
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has analyzed and released information that shows a level of 8.9 picoCuries of iodine-131 (I-131) per liter in processed milk samples taken by the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) on March 30. I-131 is the element that has been associated with the accident that occurred at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan last month. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines used by EPA, protective action would not become necessary until the level of iodine-131 reaches 4,600 picoCuries per liter. This sample reflects a level that is more than 400 times lower than the level that would be cause for concern for effects on human health.
William Mason, MD, ADH branch chief for Preparedness and Response, said that these levels are not cause for alarm. “We know that people are concerned, but these levels are very low and pose no threat to our health. Arkansas milk is safe to drink,” Mason said. “We are continuing to monitor the situation carefully, working with our partners in the EPA.”