Radioactive iodine from Japan found in Russia

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (Reuters) – Traces of radioactive iodine from Japan’s stricken nuclear power plant have been detected in Russia’s Far East but posed no health threat, officials said Tuesday.

Tests of the air in Russia’s Primorye region from Saturday to Tuesday found traces of iodine-131, the head of the region’s meteorological service, Boris Bulai, said on its website.

“Its concentration is more than 100 times lower than the acceptable level, and thus presents no threat to people’s health,” he said.

Radiation levels detected in Primorye have ranged between 7 and 16 microroentgens an hour during that period, which is within the normal range, the service said. Russian authorities say up to 30 microroentgens an hour is considered safe.

Primorye’s capital Vladivostok, a city of 600,000, lies across the Sea of Japan, about 800 km (500 miles) northwest of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant.

After the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, worried residents in Russia’s Far East snatched up iodine pills, to protect the thyroid gland, and set up a string of forum sites to monitor radiation.

But meteorological service spokeswoman Varvara Koridze said wind patterns since the disaster meant the iodine-131 detected in the region had drifted eastward from the plant and all the way around the world.

“The winds blew west-to-east and the air masses moved across the United States and Europe,” she told Reuters.

Trace amounts of iodine-131, below levels of concern for human health, have turned up in areas including Iceland, Canada and several U.S. states since the magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami severely damaged the plant in Japan.

(Writing by Steve Gutterman)

Radioactive iodine from Japan found in Russia