Frequently Asked Questions About Iodine-131 Found in Surface Water
Several states have reported finding Iodine-131 in surface water (e.g., lakes, rivers, and reservoirs) and rain water. What does this mean for the public’s health?
Highly sensitive radiation monitors operated by EPA and others have detected very low levels of radioactive material in the air in the United States. These levels are consistent with estimated releases from the damaged nuclear reactors.
These findings were expected, given the sensitivity of our monitors and the fact that radioactive material is known to travel in the atmosphere. Federal, state, and local authorities will continue to monitor levels.
Is it safe to drink rain water?
If someone uses rainwater as a drinking water source, they could be exposed to radiation at higher levels than someone who drinks water from a public system. However, the levels being seen now are 25 times below the level that would be of concern for use as a sole source of water over a short period of time, even for infants, pregnant women or breastfeeding women, who are the most sensitive to radiation.
CDC Radiation Emergencies | FAQs About Iodine-131 in Surface Water