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No danger foreseen from radiation in Nevada

CARSON CITY — A state radiation physicist said Thursday that radioactivity from damaged nuclear reactors in Japan does not pose a health risk in Nevada.

Eric Matus, the state Health Division’s radiation physicist, said he has been fielding 30 to 40 calls a day from concerned Nevadans.

Any material released in Japan must travel 10,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean, and would be dispersed in the atmosphere. While it might be detectable, it would pose no health risk and would not affect food or water supplies in Nevada, he said.

He also said it’s unnecessary to take anti-radiation drugs, such as potassium iodide, and noted that the drugs do have unwanted side effects.

The state Health Division and the Department of Public Safety issued a joint statement Thursday saying there is no official prediction that any hazardous levels of radiological material will reach the U.S. Anything else is speculation, they said.

Matus said the radioactive plume now reaches more than 100 miles east of the Japanese coast. He said the Chernobyl accident in the northern Ukraine in 1986 was much more dangerous, and while winds blew radiation around the world background radiation levels in Las Vegas increased only slightly.

The federal government is monitoring the air for radiation in Guam, Hawaii and Alaska, Matus noted, and there are monitoring sites in Las Vegas, Reno, and at 29 places in communities around the Nevada Test Site. The state Desert Research Institute operates these sites and posts real-time radiation information on its website: http://www.cemp.dri.edu/.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900.

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