Although west coast radiation levels continue to be “far below levels of concern,” the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it will increase monitoring nationwide due to concerns over the ongoing radiation release in Japan.

The EPA announced plans to monitor milk, precipitation, drinking water and other potential exposure routes under its RADNET program.

Results from a screening sample taken March 25 in Spokane, Wash. detected 0.8 pCi/L of iodine-131, which is more than 5,000 times lower than the Derived Intervention Level set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“These types of findings are to be expected in the coming days and are far below levels of public health concern, including for infants and children,” according to a statement issued by the EPA. “Iodine-131 has a very short half-life of approximately eight days, and the level detected in milk and milk products is therefore expected to drop relatively quickly.”

“Radiation is all around us in our daily lives, and these findings are a minuscule amount compared to what people experience every day,” said FDA senior scientist Patricia Hansen. “For example, a person would be exposed to low levels of radiation on a round trip cross country flight, watching television, and even from construction materials.”

EPA’s recommendation to state and local governments is to continue to coordinate closely with EPA, FDA and CDC. EPA will continue to communicate our nationwide sampling results as they come in.