PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Massachusetts health officials say they have detected low levels of radiation in rain water samples, likely from the Japanese nuclear power plant. They also say similar levels have been found along the east coast, even here in Pennsylvania. What does it mean?

Dr. Arthur Motta, chair of Nuclear Engineering at Penn State, says what has been detected in rain water here on the east coast is Iodine-131, or radioiodine. He says, while it is not ideal, you can have higher levels of radiation without a serious health risk; which is the case here, so far.

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Dr. Motta adds that if it is only this type radiation that is being released, then most of the radiation is contained in the plant and damage to the actual fuel source is not as bad as it could be.

“It’s only the very gaseous things that are dissolved in the water that are escaping,” Dr. Motta said.

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However, clean-up at the power plant will take years and additional problems could arise, especially as sea water is pumped out of the plant. But again, health officials say the levels we are seeing so far in rain water here in the U.S does not pose any major health risks.

Reported by Jim Melwert, KYW Newsradio

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