Low-level radiation found in Massachusetts rainwater

BOSTON, March 27 Sun Mar 27, 2011 4:59pm EDT

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BOSTON, March 27 (Reuters) - Trace amounts of radioactive iodine linked to Japan's crippled nuclear power station have turned up in rainwater samples as far away as Massachusetts during the past week, state officials said on Sunday.

The low level of radioiodine-131 detected in precipitation at a sample location in Massachusetts is comparable to findings in California, Washington state and Pennsylvania and poses no threat to drinking supplies, public health officials said.

Air samples from the same location in Massachusetts have shown no detectable radiation.

The samples are being collected from more than 100 sites around the country that are part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Radiation Network monitoring system.

"The drinking water supply in Massachusetts is unaffected by this short-term, slight elevation in radiation," said Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach.

"We will carefully monitor the drinking water as we exercise an abundance of caution," he said.

At concentrations found, the radioiodine-131 would likely become undetectable in a "relative short time," according to a statement issued by agency.

Trace amounts of radiation believed to have originated from damaged Fukushima Daiichi reactors in the aftermath of Japan's devastating 9.0 earthquake on March 11 have also been detected in air samples in several western U.S. states, but at levels so small they posed no risk to human health. (Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Steve Gorman and Todd Eastham)

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