Radiation tested in Louisiana

By Fred Childers -  bio|email

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) -  While Japan struggles with radiation levels thousands of times stronger than the legal limit, experts in the U.S. are seeing slight spikes of radiation in water and even in specific sources of milk in Washington State.

And while they're far below danger levels they're noticed - because they're monitored - like here in Shreveport.

And one of the first lines of defense against radioactivity is detection, which that takes place at LSU Shreveport  with one of only two monitors in the entire state.

It's called the Radnet air monitor.

"It intakes air from the environment, passes air through a filter, that filter is collected twice a week," said  Amanda Lewis with the Red River Watershed Management.

Lewis takes the filter to the on campus lab, tests it, then sends the results to the Environmental Protection Agency.

When asked if there have been any spikes of gamma or radiation? Lewis replied, "No, it's been regular fluctuations and ambient background."

Those are typical readings since 2009 when the program started at LSUS, but recent headlines concerning Japan puts a little more meaning behind the normal levels Lewis has been reading.

"It puts in perspective the importance our unit plays if an episode did happen," said Lewis.

Strict EPA guidelines are in place if these levels were to jump.

You can even check out the levels for yourself. The monitor continuously updates the radiation levels and sends it electronically to the EPA. The updates are placed on the website and made available to the public.

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