Radiation Dispersal from Japan and the Effect on U.S. Workers
On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami caused significant devastation in Japan. The disasters caused cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to fail.
On March 17, 2011, President Obama, speaking outside the White House, stated "We do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the United States, whether it’s the West Coast, Hawaii, Alaska, or U.S. territories in the Pacific. ..Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health experts do not recommend that people in the United States take precautionary measures beyond staying informed." [More...]
Radiation occurs in many forms at low levels as a part of everyday life, from residual cosmic radiation in the atmosphere to medical applications such as x-rays and CT scans. Taking extraordinary steps to prevent exposure to radiation in the absence of a known risk can create problems of its own. For example, potassium iodine pills, which are one such preventive measure, can cause intestinal upset, allergic reactions, and other symptoms, and should only be taken on the advice of emergency management officials, public health officials, or your doctor.
OSHA is working with other federal agencies to monitor domestic reports of radiation concerns and provide up-to-date worker protection information. This includes working jointly with NIOSH on a worker information page. This page provides information to help workers, employers, and occupational health professionals regarding the release of airborne contamination from the damaged Japanese power plant. If you have further questions, please contact the OSHA hotline at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) | TTY 1-877-889-5627.
- Frequently Asked Questions About the Japan Nuclear Crisis [62 KB PDF, 3 pages]. This is a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) document addressing common questions on radiation, exposure, precautions, travel, etc.
- Radiation Basics. CDC/NIOSH Workplace Safety and Health Topics Page. Provides answers to questions on radiation, specific to this incident.
- Japan 2011 Earthquake/Tsunami. USA.gov. USA.gov is an interagency initiative administered by the U.S. General Services Administration's Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies. It has links to various Government offices and their resources.
- Radiation Dispersal from Japan. CDC/NIOSH Workplace Safety and Health Topics Page. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health also provides updated information for workers.
- Radiation Protection.US Environmental Protection Agency. The US Environmental Protection Agency's website for air monitoring data.
- CBP Statement Concerning Radiation Monitoring of Travelers, Goods from Japan. US Customs and Border Protection is monitoring developments in Japan and has issued field guidance reiterating its operational protocols and directing field personnel to specifically monitor maritime and air traffic from Japan.
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