Health experts say damaged Japanese nuclear plant poses no risk to California

As Japan scrambles to secure a nuclear power plant damaged in last week’s earthquake, public health agencies in the U.S. are emphasizing that there is “no risk expected to California or its residents.”

Worldwide relief efforts are underway following the massive temblor and subsequent tsunami that struck Japan on March 11. (For information on how you can help, click here.) At the same time, officials with the California Department of Public Health and the California Emergency Management Agency have issued the following statement confirming Californians’ safety from radiation exposure, as well as the risks associated with taking potassium iodide as a precautionary measure:

The safety of all Californians is our highest priority, and we are in constant contact with the federal agencies responsible for monitoring radiation levels across the West Coast. 

We want to emphasize that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have all stated that there is no risk expected to California or its residents as a result of the situation in Japan.

We are actively monitoring the situation in Japan and are ready to take all steps necessary to protect Californians should risks develop.

We urge Californians to not take potassium iodide as a precautionary measure. It is not necessary given the current circumstances in Japan, it can present a danger to people with allergies to iodine, shellfish or who have thyroid problems, and taken inappropriately it can have serious side effects including abnormal heart rhythms, nausea, vomiting, electrolyte abnormalities and bleeding.

Our thoughts are with the people of Japan at this tragic time.

Again, this statement comes from Dr. Howard Backer, who serves as interim director of the California Department of Public Health, and Mike Dayton, who is acting secretary of the California Emergency Management Agency.

Meanwhile, the Orange County Department of Education is continuing to post updates on its webpage, as is the county’s Health Care Agency. For a list of Frequently Asked Questions about radiation on the California Department of Public Health’s website, click here.