Radiation from Japan Detected in U.S. Rainwater

Liz De La Torre

Is it safe to drink rainwater? Despite recent reports of radioidine-131, a form of radiation, having been discovered in Massachusetts precipitation, the answer remains yes. Radioactive iodine has also been found in Washington, California, and Pennsylvania precipitation as well, but the Department of Public Health maintains that the level of radiation is so low that it does not pose any health risk.

As part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Radiation Network to screen any radioactivity, air samples were also collected from the same Massachusetts area. Although no radiation turned up in any air samples in Massachusetts, a low quantity of radiation has been located along parts of the West Coast, but with no indication of any threat to human health.

The radiation is suspected to have travelled airborne from the destroyed reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant following the 9.0-magnitude earthquake that shattered Japan in early March. Even with the discovery of radiation in air and precipitation in select areas of the U.S., Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach assures that regular radiation evaluation will be taking place and is looking to various safeguards for drinking water: “The drinking water supply in Massachusetts is unaffected by this short-term, slight elevation in radiation. We will carefully monitor the drinking water as we exercise an abundance of caution,” he said.