Japanese radiation now detectable in B.C.

Minute levels measured but considered no risk, more monitoring stations coming

View from above of the Fukushima nuclear power complex in northeastern Japan

Health officials say sensors in B.C. have now detected “minute” levels of radiation coming here from Japan’s leaking nuclear reactors.

But they continue to assure the public there is no cause for residents here to worry  because of the dispersal of radioactive particles across thousands of kilometres of ocean.

“These amounts are negligible and do not pose a health risk to British Columbians,” the B.C. Centre for Disease Control said in an update posted Monday.

“We are expecting very slight increases in radiation until a week after the reactors are stabilized,” it said. “These are not cause for concern, and are smaller than the normal day-to-day fluctuations typically seen in B.C.”

BCCDC officials say the radiation levels arriving from Japan are tiny compared to other natural sources of exposure for B.C. residents, including rocks and soil, ultraviolet radiation from the sun and cosmic radiation from space.

Levels so far detected are at 0.0005 microsieverts per day, according to data from Health Canada’s Radiation Protection Bureau and released by the BCCDC.

By comparison, a dental x-ray is about 10 microsieverts – or 20,000 times as much.

Passengers on a cross-country airline flight can be exposed to 30 microsieverts or 60,000 times as much.

And a CT scan can expose a person to between 5,000 and 30,000 microsieverts – more than 10 million times as much as the increased daily exposure in B.C. from the Japanese radiation plume.

In other words, it would take more than 27,000 years of exposure at the current slightly elevated levels of radiation from Japan in B.C. to equal the exposure from a single CT scan.

“It’s minute, to the point of insignificant,” said a Health Canada official.

Canadians on average are exposed to 5.5 to 8.2 microsieverts per day, or 2,000 to 3,000 per year, from all sources, most of which are natural.

Before the nuclear crisis, baseline radiation readings at stations in Vancouver, Victoria and Sidney were well below the national average, ranging from 0.22 to 0.44 microsieverts per day.

Health Canada is also adding nine more radiation monitoring stations in B.C., in addition to six units already in place along the coast.

Residents are urged not to take or stockpile potassium iodide, which should be taken only when recommended by doctors and can otherwise cause side effects.

The Japanese nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has caused partial meltdowns at multiple reactors, releasing large amounts of radiation and triggering a massive evacuation of that region.

The crisis is currently rated as severe as the Three Mile Island disaster in the U.S. but still well short of the 1986 Chernobyl reactor fire that contaminated large areas of eastern Europe.

Just Posted

Maxime Bernier makes stop in Chilliwack for fundraiser event

Leader and founder of the People’s Party of Canada speaks during brunch fundraiser for own party

UPDATE: Reports of rashes prompt pool closures at Harrison Hot Springs

Public pool available after all five mineral pools closed until further notice

Oil pipeline company offers cash to expand under two Chilliwack school yards

District offered $136,500 to widen from 18 to 42 metres through Vedder middle and Watson elementary

Chilliwack’s Chief Ernie Crey a firm pipeline supporter

Crey lauds NEB focus on marine safety in his role representing Indigenous oversight committee

Sarah Wark’s run just about done at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

With an overall record of 5-5, Wark’s Team B.C. won’t be qualifying for Saturday’s playoff round.

VIDEO: Iconic ‘snow cone’ takes shape at B.C. park near Clearwater

Snow cone forming at Wells Gray Provincial Park one that would make Disney’s Queen Elsa proud

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

Legislation to protect B.C. farmland comes into effect

Regulations enhance food security, encourage long-term farming

Have you heard the legend of Shuswaggi, the Shuswap Lake monster?

Witness accounts as old as 1904, and as recent as 2018, place a creature in the lake’s depths

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

B.C.-based ‘Team Tardi’ brings home gold in junior curling worlds

In a 9-4 victory over Switzerland, a Langley-based curling team earned its 2nd straight world title

People gather for funeral of seven children killed in fast-moving Halifax fire

Traditional portion of the service will be followed by words from community members

B.C. weavers to help Alaska Native project honouring survivors of violence

Dozens of Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers from all over North America will be weaving 5-inch-by-5-inch squares

B.C. skip Sarah Wark and team eliminated at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Nontheless pretty impressive stuff from the 24th-ranked team in the country

Most Read