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State radiation readings now online

Health officials say no reason to worry

Oregon health officials still say there is nothing to fear about the radiation from the damaged nuclear reactors in Japan, and they are posting daily local radiation readings online to prove it.

'We do not expect any reading above normal. This will be a way for people to see the levels on a day-to-day basis,' says Gail Shibley, administrator of the Office of Environmental Public Health, Oregon Public Health Division.

The daily updates are taken from air monitoring stations in Portland and Corvallis. They are displayed in a chart that shows a radiation measures known as 'gross beta' over time. The term refers to all radioactive materials that emit beta radiation, a measurement that is used because it gives the fastest indication of any change in radiation levels. They're measured in 'counts per minute.'

According to Shibley's office, since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the monitoring stations have continually shown normal background levels of radiation. They would have to be at least hundreds of thousands of times higher than those readings before state health officials would recommend protective actions.

For example, on March 21 the reading in Portland was 24.50 and the reading in Corvallis was 37.80. The highest reading last month, 669, was taken before the nuclear plant was damaged.

The Web page showing the readings can be found at http://tiny.cc/sngmd/. It also links to monitors in the state of Washington.

Shibley encourages anyone with questions about radiation resulting from the Japan disaster to visit the Public Health preparedness website at http://tiny.cc/xde48 or call the Radiation Information Hotline at 1-877-290-6767 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.