EPA Boosts Nationwide Radiation Monitoring, Proves Worth to Naysayers


Photo credit: Nomad Tales via Flickr/CC BY-SA

In response to concerns from many Americans that radiation levels were too high in milk, the EPA announced it would be boosting radiation monitoring across the nation in order to ensure that the health and safety of the public was adequately protected. The EPA does stuff like that; addressing health concerns of the public by doing the regulatory work that nobody else will. And yet, the GOP still seems intent on shrinking its budget and hindering its ability to protect the American people from such threats... CNN reports:

There is no health risk from consuming milk with extremely low levels of radiation, like those found in Washington state and California, experts said Thursday, echoing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "When we have a disaster like we've had with a nuclear power plant in Japan, we're probably going to find things that are truly not a public health risk, but I think it's very difficult for the public to assimilate this information and understand the risks," said Dr. Wally Curran, a radiation oncologist and head of Emory University's Winship Cancer Center.

The federal agency said Wednesday it was increasing its nationwide monitoring of radiation in milk, precipitation, drinking water, and other outlets. It already tracks radiation in those potential exposure routes through an existing network of stations across the country.

This is the kind of thing that the EPA does. True, the Nuclear Regulatory Committee does more in the nuclear plant-monitoring department, but the EPA is designed to address precisely such potentially widespread threats to public health and the environment. The American people show a clear concern for a perceived environmental threat, and the EPA responds by investigating the matter and making sure it's under control.

I can't drive this point home enough. Yes, the EPA is a sprawling bureaucracy. Yes, it's far from perfect. It may qualify as 'big government'. But what other kind of body is going to address concerns like this? The FDA? The NRC? That's still 'big government'. Private enterprise? Please. Not a whole lot of money to be made in the radiation-monitoring biz these days. The EPA may have the image of some monolithic gray government agency, but in the end, it's doing a bunch of stuff the vast, vast majority of Americans are really glad it does. And it couldn't do that stuff as well with 29% of its budget cut.

And that's why the GOP-led efforts to sap its strength are so misguided -- they're trying to dismantle an agency that exists entirely to protect us from things like radiation and pollution.

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