Iodine-131 detected in Vermont

RUTLAND-MIDDLEBURY-Atomic radiation from the Fukishima nuclear power complex in northern Japan was was found in atmospheric monitors in Vermont last week.

The particles-0.03 to 0.05 picocuries per cubic meter-are far below levels that would pose a public risk, according to state health officials.

Radiation monitors at the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant, as well as a monitor in downtown Burlington, detected an iodine isotope called iodine-131. The isotope is a product of nuclear fission and has a short half life.

Harry Chen, M.D., the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health, said the iodine-131 measured here was minuscule and posed no immediate health threat.

The radioactive iodine detected last week probably left Japan four to five days earlier. Global winds carried the hot particles to the east of the nuclear site.

The Japanese radiation detected in Vermont is nearly identical to the iodine-131 that traveled here after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine in 1986.

Other, heavier isotopes of nuclear fission are less likely to travel as far as iodine-131, according to a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission news report.

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