Answer to Question #10093 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Nuclear Power, Devices, and Accidents — Nuclear and Radiation Accidents

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:

Is there a screening process in place in Japan and in the United States that scans various imports for radioactivity prior to being unloaded in the United States? I am thinking specifically of cars, car parts, computers, and mobile phones. If there is a process in place, what does it consist of and what does it measure?
Products brought into the United States are screened for radiation levels by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and food products are screened the Food and Drug Administration. In Japan, food products produced near the site of the Fukushima reactors were quarantined to ensure they met strict contamination limits. 

Consumer products such as cars and electronics are also screened. Screening techniques use sensitive radiation detectors and devices designed to measure very low levels of radioactive contamination. Since most of the radioactivity outside of the immediate Fukushima evacuation zone was deposited on surfaces, simple washing removed the contamination such that any residual amounts are well within safe levels. 
Also, emissions from the Fukushima facility were terminated months ago so any consumer products shipped to the United States now are safe for use. Radiation levels in food products and consumer products are subject to strict regulations that ensure U.S. consumers do not receive excessive radiation exposure. And, in fact, none of us have.

Eric Goldin, CHP
Joel Cehn, CHP
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