Adventist Medical Center Keeps Citizens Informed About Radiation Questions

March 18, 2011

3/18/2011 - Adventist Medical Center Keeps Citizens Informed About Radiation Questions

Adventist Medical Center (AMC), a nonprofit, 302-bed acute care hospital is collaborating with the State Public Health Department in monitoring and communicating health information related to the current situation in Japan.

Although there is a great deal of concern related to the events surrounding the nuclear facilities in Japan state officials indicate that there are NO elevated levels of radiation detected in Oregon. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission reports that the situation poses no significant health risk beyond the surrounding area in Japan at this time. The Department of Health is continuing to monitor the data, but they emphasize that even if a much larger release of radiation happens in Japan, it would be so dilute by the time anything spread to the Northwest that you would not need to take any additional safety precautions.

Dr. Lynne Dawson, Radiation Oncologist at Adventist Medical Center states that everyone is exposed to some amount of background radiation. The Oregon Health Department reports that a typical person is exposed to approximately 1 milliseivert per year of natural radiation. A milliseivert is a measure of radiation that is equivalent to the average accumulated amount of background radiation a person would be exposed to over the course of a year. A person working with radiological materials can safely receive
50 milliseiverts per year.

Japan is thousands of miles away. Even with winds that people have feared may reach the states, radiation dilutes and disperses with distance until it reaches normal levels. Since the explosion, there have been no elevated radiation readings detected in Oregon and air sample results remain normal. The Oregon Public Health Department receives hourly reports of atmospheric data and will continue to monitor the situation.

Buying potassium iodide tablets is unnecessary and potentially dangerous. Potassium iodide tablets are used during emergencies involving radiation exposure. Potassium iodide tablets are NOT recommended at this time. Using potassium iodide when inappropriate could have potential serious side effects. These may include abnormal heart rhythms, nausea, vomiting, electrolyte abnormalities and bleeding. They can present a danger to people with allergies to iodine, shellfish or to those who have thyroid problems. Potassium iodide is ONLY appropriate within a very close proximity to a nuclear event. Dr. Dawson is advising patients that it is inappropriate and potentially unsafe for those residing in western states to take potassium iodide tablets in this particular situation.

To reiterate, radiation levels that would present a health risk are NOT expected to reach Oregon. The Oregon state health department will continue its monitoring work and will update the public if there are any changes.

For more information about the health impact of this situation in Japan on Oregonians log on to

About Adventist Medical Center (AMC)
Adventist Medical Center (AMC), located in southeast Portland, is a nonprofit, 302-bed acute care facility, offering a full range of inpatient, outpatient and emergency services throughout the Portland/Vancouver metropolitan area. AMC is a member of Adventist Health, headquartered in Roseville, Calif. The organization represents regional delivery networks spanning California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington.

Adventist Medical Center is part of Adventist Health, a not-for-profit, faith-based health care system operating in California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. Founded on the Seventh-day Adventist heritage of Christian health care, Adventist Health is comprised of 17 hospitals with more than 2,600 beds, approximately 18,600 employees, numerous clinics and outpatient facilities, the largest system of rural health clinics in California with additional sites in Oregon and Washington, 14 home care agencies and four joint-venture retirement centers. For more information, visit or

10123 SE Market St, Portland, OR 97216(503) 257-2500