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Health officials report no radiation threat in Southland

March 18, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Local leaders are making it clear: the Southland is not facing any fallout from the nuclear crisis in Japan.

At a news conference Friday, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Jonathan Fielding emphasized that local residents need not be alarmed by the radiation coming out of Japan's crippled nuclear facilities.

"All the scenarios that I have seen result in levels of radiation that are not harmful to human health," said Fielding. "They don't need to live their life any differently than they would if they had not heard about this."

Public health officials throughout the state also said there is no threat and there will be no threat, even in a worst case scenario in Japan.

But Friday a report from an unnamed diplomat with access to United Nation radiation tracking data, disclosed that minute radiation particles have reached California. The levels however are a billion times below what it would take to cause physical harm.

The Air Quality Management District and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are watching for any changes in radiation levels from sensors.

"We get data every hour," said Dr. Phillip Fine from the AQMD. "And so far we haven't seen any increases beyond what you would expect that we saw yesterday, or two weeks ago, or before the Japanese disaster."

And many Southern Californian residents aren't worried either.

"I think I'm more worried about taking precautions for any natural disasters headed this way," said La Verne resident Toni Hackett.

"I'm not concerned at all," said another Southland resident. "I mean we've been told that we shouldn't be concerned, so I trust our administration."

However some people are still doubtful. At SOS Survival Products in Van Nuys, a barrage of customers aren't asking about earthquake safety but about radiation.

"I would say every other phone call we've had, or just about every other person coming in to the store right now, is asking about potassium iodide tablets, radiation suits, Geiger counters," said Jeff Edelstein from SOS Survival Products. "Because they are terrified. They don't know what to expect."

Radiation monitoring will continue in Southern California on an hourly basis, but it is not expected to be dangerous to health.