Health officials: No increased radiation risk in L.A. County
"We understand there is concern over the nuclear power complex situation in Japan, and we want to reassure everyone that multiple agencies at the local, state and federal levels are working together to monitor this situation out of an abundance of caution," said Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding, Los Angeles County's public health chief. "Our position has not changed: We still do not expect to see an increase in harmful levels of radiation in California."
In a Friday statement, his office noted that "plume models" forecasting the path of radiation do not track actual radiation levels, but predict where radiation may be carried based on weather patterns.
"Given that more than 5,000 miles separate Southern California from Japan, any radiation from Japan is expected to disburse well before reaching the West Coast," the statement said. "The public should be reassured that L.A. County is equipped with highly sensitive, redundant monitoring systems capable of detecting any significant elevation in radiation levels."
Fielding reiterated earlier warnings against taking potassium iodide, or KI, to ward off radiation poisoning, noting that it is ineffective and could cause side effects.
Although usually benign, potassium iodide can prove harmful to people with allergies to iodine or shellfish, those with certain skin disorders or those with thyroid problems. Possible side effects include nausea, intestinal upset, rashes, inflammation of the salivary glands and severe allergic reactions.
-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske
Photo: Potassium iodide pills. Credit: Justin Sullivan /Getty Images