WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Fallout from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan was detected in minimal amounts in precipitation in the United States, a study released Wednesday said.
The study by the U.S. Geological Survey found levels similar to those measured made by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the days and weeks immediately following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, and determined to be well below any level of public health concern, a USGS release said.
The study was conducted as part of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program, with many NADP sites located away from major urban areas so that they are more representative of the U.S. landscape as a whole, the USGS said.
"Japan's unfortunate nuclear nightmare provides a rare opportunity for U.S. scientists to test an infrequently needed national capability for detecting and monitoring nuclear fallout over a wide network," USGS Director Marcia McNutt said. "Had this been a national incident, NADP would have revealed the spatial and temporal patterns of radioactive contamination in order to help protect people and the environment."
Precipitation was collected at monitoring sites within the extensive NADP network and USGS scientists detected Iodine-131, Cesium-134 and Cesium-137, the primary radioactive products released during an incident such as the Fukushima incident, but at levels far below any threat to human health, officials said.
This is the second time samples from the NADP network have been used to measure radioactive fallout, the USGS said. The first time was after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.