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Federal officials monitor radiation levels around the clock - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Federal officials monitor radiation levels around the clock

SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) - Federal officials are trying to ease concerns about the threat of radiation exposure in the U.S., and are monitoring radiation levels around the clock at several locations.  

Federal authorities have repeatedly said that any radiation that might reach the West Coast will not pose a threat to the public.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is able to monitor the radiation levels around the clock on behalf of the deployed radiation monitor.

"It's basically in place to ensure that if there are any changes in the background radiation levels that we know about it quickly and can take effective action," said Eric Stevenson with the EPA.

There are more than 100 of these devices fanned out across the country, and federal officials are saying traces of radiation from Japan may start showing up within the next couple of days.

The threat has created anxiety that has made potassium iodide fly off the shelves.

Potassium iodide can have serious side effects if it's not taken correctly.

The EPA is hoping a transparent view of its radiation collection system will ease unwarranted panic.

Philip Fine is a scientist reviewing the data collected in southern California.

"We don't really know how much is being emitted from the reactor in Japan but even if it was almost worst case scenario, it appears that by the time it crosses the Pacific over four, five, six days, there's a lot of dilution and even though these are very sensitive instruments, and may pick up a little bit, what we are being told is that the radiation risk will be minimal or non-existent," Fine said.

The EPA added seven more of the monitors from Alaska to Hawaii. If there is any spike in radiation, it will know instantly.

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