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No increase in radiation levels in Southern California air

March 19, 2011 | 11:31 am

Environmental officials say radiation in Southern California's air remains below levels of concern.

The Environmental Protection Agency has been providing daily updates on its website. On Saturday morning, the EPA reported that its nationwide radiation monitoring system, RadNet, which continuously monitors the nation's air, drinking water, milk and precipitation for environmental radiation, showed typical fluctuations in background radiation levels.

On Friday, the Associated Press, quoting an unnamed diplomat in Vienna, reported that radioactive fallout from Japan's damaged nuclear reactors had reached Southern California but that readings were far below levels that could pose a health hazard.

As of 5 p.m. Friday, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the smog control agency for Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, said there was no increase in radiation levels. On Saturday morning, AQMD spokeswoman Tina Cherry said radiation levels had not changed. "There's no increase of risk detected through the monitor," Cherry said.

The agency has detectors in Anaheim, Fontana and Riverside monitoring airborne radiation; the California Department of Public Health operates a fourth detector in the downtown Los Angeles area.

The four detectors are part of the EPA's radiation-detection network, which operates 24 hours a day. The system was developed in the 1950s during the Cold War.

-- Ruben Vives