Is our milk radioactive? Well, we have determined that many radioactive materials from Japan’s nuclear meltdown will be too heavy to make a trip of thousands of miles to the West Coast of North America. At least two of the lighter radioactive elements, Iodine-131 and Strontium-90, still have the possibility of showing up in detectable amounts on our shores. Special concern has been voiced over the milk supply in this event.
Why milk instead of, say, grape juice? Milk from cows who have been exposed to radiation in the air or in contaminated feed will go to those who can tolerate being exposed the least! Our children drink large amounts of milk, and will be affected by radiation effects well before adults are.
Is Radiation Really a Danger in Our Milk?
In 1966, a nuclear bomb test conducted by China wafted fallout so far that cows in Oak Ridge, Tennessee gave milk with elevated level of radiation. Also, the Chernobyl incident in 1986 caused cows in Washington State to have even higher levels. You never heard about either incident because the radiation levels didn’t go high enough to meet the federal government’s criteria for notifying the public! Preparedness means knowing a bit more.
The RADNET Pasteurized Milk program monitors the milk supply in 36 separate locations in the United States. They specifically look for the radioactive elements that are of concern: Iodine, Strontium, Cesium and Barium. RADNET also monitors radioactivity levels in the air, in rain and drinking water. Go to www.epa.gov/narel/radnet/programs.html#air for more information.
We can thank divine Providence that we have not been thrust into the predicament that our Japanese friends are experiencing. I’m not sure we would handle the multiple catastrophes nearly as well. Our prayers and best wishes go to the people of Japan.