Airman 1st Class Dakota Parker, left, of Brownsboro, Texas, and Senior Airmen Brittany Sculley, of Blair, Neb., both assigned to Misawa Air Base, Bioenvironmental Engineering Department, recalibrate a radiation detection instrument following an air sample test at Misawa Air Base. The department's field team is conducting frequent tests of atmospheric radiation levels and water contamination to ensure the safety of service and family members as efforts continue on base in support of Operation Tomodachi. Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Devon Dow
The Bioenvironmental Engineering Department at Misawa Air Base stepped up its efforts to ensure local water and air conditions remain within standards, March 21.
The department’s field team is conducting frequent tests of atmospheric radiation levels and water contamination to ensure the safety of service and family members as efforts continue on base in support of Operation Tomodachi.
“We have not detected any changes in either air or water, but we will continue to constantly monitor,” said Technical Sgt. Laura Andrews of Eastlake, Ohio, assigned to Misawa Air Base, Bioenvironmental Engineering Department. “The test we are conducting are routine, we are just performing more. With that said, we already have a good idea of what the radiation levels in our area should be.
“We are here to protect the people and want to ensure levels stay within the status quo, while continually keeping our chain of command informed of our findings,” she added.
Air samples are being taken every three hours from various areas on base using a radiation detection instrument. The team checks the filter on the instrument and posts their findings in a logbook to catalog the radiation levels for any changes.
For water, the team conducts samples of water resources on base in search of any traces of bacteria. When the sample is taken, it is brought back to their lab, and goes through a series of tests, placed in an incubator for 24 hours and evaluated for any abnormalities.
While there have been no substantial findings of uncommon increases in radiation or water contamination, Andrews said the amplified testing is important.
“This is the right thing to do,” she said. “We have had an influx of military personnel arrive to the base in the past week and we need to do our part in ensuring that they and everyone on base are working in a safe environment.”
Andrews acknowledged that there is a lot of misinformation about radiation on the Internet, but with her unique perspective, she says Misawa residents need not panic.
“There are a lot of concerns [about radiation] from individuals and families back home; I still have my family here,” she said. “If I thought my children were in danger for a minute I would make the necessary arrangements to send them back to the U.S. where family could take care of them.
“I believe that most people don’t have a full understanding of what radiation is, and find it hard to wrap their mind around it,” said Andrews. “Our testing helps validate the safe conditions here.”
Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Devon Dow