Japan 2011 Earthquake/Tsunami – U.S. Government Information

In the United States

Environmental Monitoring

The EPA has its radiation air monitoring (RadNet) data, frequently asked questions, and other resources on Here you can:

Food Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has deemed that based on current information, there is no risk to the U.S. food supply.

In response to the ongoing situation in Japan, the EPA has taken steps to increase the level of nationwide monitoring of milk, precipitation, drinking water, and other potential exposure routes.

  • EPA conducts radiological monitoring of milk under its RADNET program
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has jurisdiction over the safety, labeling and identity of milk and milk products in interstate commerce.
  • States have jurisdiction over those facilities located within their territory.

Results from a screening sample taken March 25 from Spokane, WA 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.
  • 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 miniscule amount compared to what people experience every day. For example, people are exposed to low levels of radiation on round trip cross country flights, watching television, and even from construction materials.

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has jurisdiction over 80 percent of the food supply, including seafood, dairy, and produce. The U.S. Department of Agriculture regulates meat, poultry, and processed egg products, while FDA regulates all other food products.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture has stated that Japan has not exported any beef products to the United States for nearly a year.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture has stated that Japan is not currently eligible to export any poultry or processed egg products to the U.S.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Customs and Border Protection carefully screen all food products for unsafe substances, including radiological material at Ports of Entry.
  • Learn more about keeping food safe during an emergency.

Potassium Iodide (KI)

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does not recommend that people in the United States take potassium iodide supplements (also called KI) in response to the damaged nuclear reactors in Japan.

  • Only take KI on the advice of emergency management officials, public health officials, or your doctor.
  • There are health risks associated with taking KI.

Food, Mail, Ships, and Cargo from Japan

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is monitoring developments in Japan carefully and uses several types of radiation detection equipment in air and sea ports, mail facilities, and elsewhere to ensure safety.

  • CBP and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration carefully screen all food products for unsafe substances, including radiological material, at Ports of Entry.
  • All inbound travelers, baggage, and cargo are screened for radiological materials.
  • CBP employs radiation monitors at international mail facilities.

American Citizens in Japan

American Embassy in Japan

All U.S. citizens in Japan should continue to carefully monitor the situation and follow the guidance of the U.S. and Japanese governments.

Authorized Departures

The U.S. government has authorized the voluntary departure from Japan of eligible family members of U.S. government personnel assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, the U.S. Consulate in Nagoya, the Foreign Service Institute Field School in Yokohama, and U.S. Forces Japan.


Travel to and from Japan

Disaster Preparedness

The tragic events in Japan remind us that disasters can strike at any time. The best way to make sure your family is taken care of when disaster strikes is to be prepared.

Additional Information

  • Earthquake in Japan – See facts from the U.S. Geological Survey about the 9.0 earthquake.
  • Earthquake Preparedness and Response – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides helpful tips on how to prepare for an earthquake and what to do during a quake.
  • Earthquakes, Flooding, and Radiation – The National Institutes of Health provides information and resources about natural disasters and their effects.
  • Tsunami Health Effects – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes the immediate, secondary, and long-term health effects of a tsunami.
  • Tsunami Preparedness – The Federal Emergency Management Agency explains what a tsunami is and provides guidance on what to do during a tsunami watch or warning.
  • Radiation – Read about the assistance and expertise that the U.S. Department of Energy is providing to Japanese response and recovery efforts.