Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Trace amounts of radiation from the nuclear nightmare in Japan have now been found in South carolina and other parts of the country. But experts here say they're nothing to worry about.
Both SCE&G and Progress Energy say their nuclear plants have detected trace amounts of radiation right here in the Midlands. Specifically, low levels of Iodine-131, which is a radioactive by product of nuclear fission. Experts say the levels of radiation found over the weekend comes as no surprise.
At USC, Dr. Dan Zurosky and his assistant are using the equipment to scan boxes for particles that may be contaminated by radiation. "And we'll take wipes like Allison was doing here today to see if there is any loose contamination present."
Zurosky admits the amount of Iodine 131 radiation discovered in South Carolina from Japan's Fukushima Nuclear Plant is so small, it wouldn't even register on his equipment.
In fact, experts say the level of radiation found in South Carolina is so low, it's a thousand times less than your typical chest or dental x-ray.
"But the issue is, they're there," says Thom Berry with DHEC.
He says they're currently checking water, soil and air samples from around the state.
News19 asked how they know the radiation detected in SC is from Japan and not from one of our own nuclear plants.
"Because of the fact that we are seeing it in so many different places rather than isolated to one particular area, that is why we are of the belief it is from the Fukushima facility. We recieve radiation everyday from numerous sources, but this is just one more," says Berry.
DHEC is also working with the EPA whose "rad-net system" can detect a rise in radiation levels.
Dr. Zurosky says the half life of Iodine-131 is eight days, the time it takes for a substance undergoing decay to decrease by half.
"And Iodine 131 is rather volatile, it has a very high vapor pressure so if you have a vile of I-131 here today and open up the vile, it would permeate the room rather quickly," said Zurosky.
The Gulf Stream is what Dr. Zurosky's believes brought the radiation to the state. He says the present levels are certainly a concern to keep an eye on locally, but nowhere near the level of radiation that Japan is seeing. "The amount we've had here is just so small it's not of any concern."
Radiation in rainwater around the country is also a concern, a statement from the Centers for Disease Control says, "while short-term elevations in radiation such as these do not raise public health concerns, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has taken steps to increase the level of monitoring of precipitation, drinking water, and other potential exposure routes to continue to verify that."
Official DHEC lab results will come back in a couple of days, but again they say the numbers are so low the radiation would not effect anyone including pets.
If you would like more information you can visit the EPA's website.