Local Milk Producers Getting Questioned About Radiation

SPOKANE, Wash. - The Washington State Department of Agriculture says milk that tested positive for minute amounts of radiation came from the Spokane Darigold plant, which processes milk from all over the region.

The Spokane Regional Health District says the level of Iodine-131 found in the milk is 5,000 times less than what would be considered to be a threat to health.

Some people say no radiation is safe radiation, but doctors say we are exposed to radiation everyday.

Mike Viera owns Spokane Family Farms, and is raising 30 cows which produce hundreds of gallons of milk a day. Food safety is his number one concern. Ever since a small amount of radiation was found in local milk Viera has been getting questions from customers.

?This is all kind of new, even us, the dairy farmers and producers,? he said.

Viera says it?s all speculation as to how the radiation got into the milk. The prevailing theory is that the radiation came from the nuclear crisis in Japan, possibly through contaminated rainwater.

However Viera says right now, in Spokane, cows are eating stored food, harvested last year, most dairy farms used a well to water their cows, and if the cows are absorbing the radiation by being outside then he thinks he is just as much at risk.

?So if the cows are susceptible to it, then I am susceptible to it, and anybody else that works outside,? he said.

The health district says right now little is known about where the radiation came from and their message is that there is no health risk because, according to Dr. Joel McCullough, ?its 5,000 times below what we would consider a concern even for infants and children.?

Viera says his milk undergoes routine tests but as far as he knows his milk was never tested for radiation, a test he welcomes.

?It?s not something we would be isolated from if its coming from the Jet Stream and falling here in the area, short of finding a hazmat suit that will fit our cows,? he said.

The EPA routinely tests milk for radiation several times a year but since the nuclear incident at Fukushima in Japan they have increased testing to more closely monitor levels of radiation.