Entries in West Coast (3)


Radiation from Japan Disaster Found Along California Coast

Hemera/Thinkstock(LONG BEACH, Calif.) -- Kelp along the California coast was found to be contaminated with radioactive material from a nuclear plant damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, according to a recent study.

Researchers at California State University, Long Beach found that the kelp contained radioactive iodine, cesium, xenon and other particles at levels unlikely to be detrimental to human health but much higher than the amounts measured before the disaster.

The levels were also about the same as those measured in British Columbia and Washington state after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion.

The researchers also expressed worry that the radioactivity could have made it into the coastal food chain, although they weren’t sure what impact that could have.

“Radioactivity is taken up by the kelp, and anything that feeds on the kelp will be exposed to this also,” said co-author Steven Manley in a news release.

Medical experts, however, said the disaster’s impact on U.S. public health was likely insignificant. Exposures of large numbers of people in past nuclear accidents, such as Chernobyl, have indicated that any radiation that reached the West Coast wouldn’t have much of an effect.

“But in Japan, the effects are as serious as we thought.  There’s still a lot of contamination there,” said Dr. Nagy Elsayyad, an assistant professor at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine.  “Some areas are still getting contamination in the fish, and some of the radiation is very long-lasting.”

Manley and his co-author, Christopher Lowe, wrote that exposures along the North American coast should continue to be monitored.

“The resulting data would reveal the pattern of plume dispersal and the degree of contamination of the coastal community.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Baby Born in Stuck Elevator after Snowstorm Delays Hospital Arrival

File photo. (Photodisc/Thinkstock)(TACOMA, Wash.) -- A newborn baby boy in Washington State can already lay claim to having survived two unexpected disasters: one of the worst winter storms to ever hit Washington State, and being delivered in a hospital service elevator.

The harrowing series of events surrounding the arrival of Blake Michael Thacker had a happy ending: he came into the world at the St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, around 5:45 Wednesday morning.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

It began with his parents, Katie and Luke Thacker, leaving their home in nearby Graham hours before when Katie started to go into labor with her second child.

The couple’s drive to St. Joseph took twice as long as usual because of the snowy and icy conditions created by the winter storm that unexpectedly walloped the state this week, local ABC affiliate KOMO reports.

By the time the Thackers managed to pull into the parking lot of the hospital’s emergency room, Katie was ready to push, so hospital staff rushed her into a service elevator to whisk her to the maternity ward on the 14th floor.

The group, now comprising the Thackers, four nurses and Katie’s mother and sister, rode the elevator to the 12th floor where they had to switch elevators to continue on to their 14th floor destination.

Luke, Katie’s mom and sister and one nurse stepped out, only to watch the elevator’s doors close, leaving Katie and the three remaining nurses trapped inside the elevator and now stuck between floors.

While hospital staff called emergency crews to rescue them, Katie and the nurses proceeded as Mother Nature demanded, delivering Blake inside the elevator.  He was a healthy 7 pounds 15 ounces, and 21.5 inches long.

According to KOMO, the elevator remained stuck for about two hours before two technicians could pry the doors open.

Luke reportedly stayed in touch with Katie during the delivery via walkie-talkie, before climbing down to cut the umbilical cord of his newborn son.

Mom, nurses and baby all made it out of the elevator safely and unharmed, and with a good story to tell.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Radiation in US Milk: What It Means

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Milk from America's West Coast containing trace amounts of radioactive iodine is safe to drink, health officials say.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration reported higher-than-normal levels of radioactive Iodine-131 in milk samples from California and Washington Wednesday. But the levels are 5,000 times below the danger threshold.

"These types of findings are to be expected in the coming days and are far below levels of public health concern, including for infants and children," the EPA said on its website.

A March 25 radiation reading from milk in Spokane, Wash. -- 0.8 picocuries per liter -- is more than 4,000 times less than that of a normal banana, which naturally contains radioactive potassium.

Agencies will continue to measure radiation levels in milk and other food products in the U.S. during Japan's ongoing nuclear crisis.

"Radioactivity levels in milk products are monitored, so it is unlikely that any significantly contaminated milk would make it to the marketplace," said Dr. Timothy Jorgensen, associate professor in the department of radiation medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center. "The U.S. population need not be concerned about this level of Iodine-131."

On March 28 the EPA reported very low levels of radiation in the air over Alaska, Alabama, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Saipan, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and Washington state.

On March 22, the FDA banned milk and produce imported from Japan's Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma prefectures.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio