State: Washington milk is safe, despite radiation concerns
April 12, 2011
State agriculture and health officials said Washington-produced milk is safe, despite low levels of radiation detected March 25 in a milk sample from Spokane.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency is conducting radiological testing for Washington-produced milk. EPA results announced March 30 confirmed the presence of miniscule levels of radioactive iodine-131.
Sampling results from Tacoma and Spokane taken during the same week — and posted online April 4 by the EPA — did not detect any radioactive elements in milk, even in trace amounts.
“EPA monitoring confirms that Washington milk is safe to drink,” Dan Newhouse, state Department of Agriculture director, said in a statement. “These results raise no concerns for food safety or public health. Milk and other dairy products remain a healthy choice in your diet.”
In the sample indicating the presence of iodine-131, the levels found in the milk amounted to 5,000 times less than the level the federal government considers a health concern, even for children.
State agriculture and health officials said drinking a pint of milk with the low levels of radiation exposes the consumer to less than half the radiation from a five-hour airplane flight.
The state Department of Health continues to monitor air for radiation due to ongoing nuclear disaster in Japan.
“There’s a lot of monitoring underway to see how much radiation from Japan can be found in the environment here, and as expected all of the results show very low levels that are well below any health risk,” Secretary of Health Mary Selecky said in a statement. “We understand people are concerned, and it’s important to know that only trace levels have been detected. The state continues to monitor air and rainwater, and in fact we expect to have results from our own state milk tests later this month.”