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Radiation Detected!

1 Dead, 1 Injured per reports.  It was not a reactor, it was a fuel processing facility.  More than likely a chemical explosion of some type.  May or may not have involvement with radioactive materials, see:

May involve MOX Fuel, however no reports of any environmental releases fortunately. 

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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on September 12th, 2011 6:20 AMView Comments (2)

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Hello all;
Friday morning I came across an interesting app for the Android Smartphone and Tablet platform, Claus Buszello’s Original Geiger Cam. Someone has actually written a radiation detector code that works on the Android Platform. It uses the camera to detect gamma rays, cosmic rays and muons.
I downloaded it for $1.49 US and decided that if it didn’t work, I really hadn’t blown a lot of money. At least I had some toy software for my phone.
This afternoon I tested it with my Sears Tower Radium Check Source (It still glows in the dark!). My smartphone is a Samsung Galaxy S variation known as the T-Mobile Vibrant. It has a 1,000 MHz processor, 512 mb of Ram, and a 5 mp Camera. The check source measures 1 mR/hr gamma and 10,000 cpm total counts with a Monitor 4ec (LND712 gm Tube)
Drawbacks, the program measures in Hertz, not mR/hr or mSv/hr, so it is not going to be mistaken as a serious rad detector (at least at this time). It does measure events and gives a count, and how many pixels where stimulated by the event, so it seems to act like a scaler, except you cannot get counts per minute, unless you reset it and count again.
Here are my results of 5 tests over 10 minutes:
     No Source             With Source
1)   3 cpm                  14 cpm
2)   20 cpm                57 cpm
3)   7 cpm                  8 cpm
4)   42 cpm                84 cpm
5)   56 cpm                89 cpm
For some reason it appears to get more sensitive the longer it is used. I am not ready to give up my PM1703m or other GM Counters, and I have only tested this with Ra 226, however, for only $1.55 it looks like a cheap radiation detector alternative. It is not very sensitive, but it does work with my phone and is written by a gentleman that works at Cern!
It appears to be true, there is an App for everything!

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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on September 7th, 2011 5:02 AMView Comments (2)

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I have not posted in a while, my apologies, it has been a busy week for me and my primary occupation has taken up a majority of my time.

However, it has been an interesting week to say the least.  To start we had the neighborhood garage sale in our subdivision last Saturday, and it was a good time to go to garage sales.  I woke up early on saturday and began a trek around our neighborhood and was able to score two radioactive items. 

The first was a Westclock Baby Ben alarm clock, a nice vintage piece circa 1950's, early 1960's.  It will trigger the alarm on my PM1703m, and measures around 650 counts per minute on my Digilert geiger counter.  The second item is actually a really nice find, a Luminox Navy Seals wristwatch.  The Navy Seal watch is actually standard issue, and the dial is illuminated by Tritium (Hydrogen 3, or H3) Traser glow tubes.  Unfortunately I have not been able to detect any radiation from the watch, the mineral glass crystal shields most if not all the Xrays generated by the glass walls of the glow tubes.  Hydrogen 3 is a beta emitter, when the glass walls and phosphors are struck by the beta particles, the generate Xrays in a phenomenon known as Xray fluorescence, or Bremsstrahlung.  The X-Rays are very weak.  Tritium is highly regulated in the United States, and the watch is one of the few unlicensed items able to be sold to US citizens.  Other uses of the glow tubes are gun sights and bow sights.

On Wednesday I was at a Xxx's Xxxx at Penn and Memorial, and while shopping in the Pharmacy section my PM1703m alarmed.  I detected somebody who had a Nuclear Medical test of some sort.  Background at Xxx's Xxxx is quite low, 4 uR/hr.  The maximum observed count was 60 uR/hr.  This was a surprise since it has been many months since I have detected any radioactive people.  I was not able to trace the source since the store was quite busy.  There has been a shortage of Tc 99m, and it is less common for people to get tests done as a result.

I had mentioned in a precious blog that I had gotten some new scintillator probes, and thought I would test them out.  After hooking up the largest one (a Bicron 2 1/2 inch scintillator probe) to my Ludlum Model 16 I went outdoors to test it out fully.  What I was able to observe was a background rates of 100 Counts Per Second. My driveway was about 80 CPS, My Lawn 100 CPS, and finally near the down spouts of my gutters I measured 120 CPS.  I am not sure what the source may be.  It is from rainwater, and it could be from the plume from Fukushima Daiichi, or it could be from natural sources.  There is no way to tell the origin without gamma spectroscopy equipment.  By the way, the PM1703m measured higher rates on my lawn, however I was not able to tell the difference near the down spouts.  The lawn is easy to explain, phosphate fertilizers and Nitrate fertilizers have a variety of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Isotopes such as K40, Uranium, and Thorium.  The down spouts are not as easy to explain, since the I do not fertilize the roof of my house. 

Overall, an eventful week.  If anyone has questions feel free to post to the blog, or email.  Hope you had a good week as well!

PM1703m 7 uR/hr; Not wearing the geiger counter watch.

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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on May 8th, 2011 8:25 AMLeave a Comment

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I have been reading various reports in blogs, websites and news reports about radiation levels and increasing levels of Iodine 131 and Plutonium levels in food, air and in food.  By the way, Plutonium has not been found in milk or rainwater!  Some are based in fact, but the time frame is wrong, others are blatant lies and fear mongering trying to sell products that may have some health benefits, but would be of dubious utility when it comes to radiation protection.  I am even hearing radio adds for vitamins touting that we are attacked by radiation on a daily basis!  Ironic that in Oklahoma we are a low background radiation state in most areas.  There are areas that have a relative abundance of radioactive minerals in the soil and exposed geological strata, like the Foss Quadrangle, but for the most part Oklahomans are protected by our relatively low altitude above sea level (thicker atmospheric shielding) and low radon levels statewide (no need for Radon Testing in most Oklahoma homes.) 

This brings us to more reports of high radiation levels at the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichii Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, headlines state "Highest Radiation Levels Detected So Far..." Actually I suspect that these levels have been high all along, and we now are getting to the areas where the high levels can be found via robot.  Some of the areas the robots are going too one in their right mind would not send a human!  That reminds me, there are reports of animals dying in the exclusion zone.  This is not due to radiation as some bloggers have suggested, it is due to improper care.  The poor creatures are not being fed due to an absence of their human care givers.  Even the animals are suffering due to the crisis. 

In the US bloggers are writing about the increases of radioactive materials in Milk and Rainwater.  I personally feel that there is not a not a threat, after all we had much more atmospheric contamination following nuclear testing in the 40's, 50's and 60's following the hundreds of above ground nuclear tests. We didn't have an epidemic of cancer then, and we didn't have mutant babies nor people dropping dead in the streets.  I need to do find some of the archives from that era, there were levels detectable with hand held survey meters, however these archives have been pushed out of the online searches due to the plethora of reports of recent time.  I guess the internet forgets too.

This leaves me to testing, I pulled out the big guns for this, my Ludlum Model 16 and a 1 1/2 inch scintillation probe, My Dosimeter 3700 and a 2 1/2 inch pancake probe, and my Digilert.

The Big Guns




First, I got from the refrigerator a full gallon of milk that was purchased Thursday April 28th, so I was sure that it was of recent vintage.  Since Cesium 137 and Iodine 131 are gamma emitters, I should have had no problem detecting any radiation from concentrations of Cesium 137 and Iodine penetrating the thin plastic container.  Beta particles will easily penetrate plastic as well, and Cesium 137 is a beta emitter as well, so my pancake probe should have no problems measuring anything over background.  The results:

Ludlum Model 16 with Gamma Scintillator probe:

Background = 650 Counts per Second,

Milk, contact with Container = 650 Counts per Second

This was with a slow time response (longer survey setting).  650 Counts Per Second is normal.  Background was the same last summer as well.  Yes 650 Counts per second is 39,000 counts per Minute, the Ludlum with the 1 1/2 inch probe is very sensitive, Much more so than a geiger counter.

I then tried my Dosimeter 3700 with a 2 1/2 inch Pancake Probe.  The pancake, having a larger detector, and there fore more sensitive than the Digilert, came up with the same result:

Background = 40 to 60 CPM

Milk, contact with Container = 40 to 60 CPM

No Radiation levels higher than Background Detected with either instrument, it appears that the Milk is safe.


Did get some interesting results here with the Digilert, and I will explain why I did in a brief moment.  My first task was to collect rainwater from the thunderstorms early this morning, wow, where can I score some rainwater?

My wife's recently waxed black Saturn had some nice rainwater beads all over the shiny black surface.  I could have tried a puddle, but my concern was contamination of the water from Potassium and Phosphate fertilizers I have used on my lawn.  Stable Potassium is always accompanied by radioactive Potassium 40, and most phosphate fertilizers have some Uranium in them, so a puddle would not do.  I got two paper towels, folded them together, and folded them twice.  I then sopped up some of the water on the car and placed the wet towels on a plate (non radioactive of course.)

The Results of the Ludlum:

Background = 650 Counts per Second

Rainwater Swipe = 650 Counts per Second

The Dosimeter 3700 Results:

Background = 40 to 60 CPM

Rainwater Swipe = 40 to 60 CPM

This is where I decided to use my trusty hand held Digilert, with 5 minutes of counts:

Background = 14.6 CPM average

Rainwater Swipe = 16.8 CPM Average

I tested again with similar results:

Background = 14.4 CPM average

Rainwater Swipe = 16.4 CPM Average

This may be definitive.  However is it from Cesium 137 and Iodine 131?

More than likely not.  I may have detected it with the Dosimeter 3700, but the needle like most analog GM counters is a bit bouncy, so a 10% swing may not be noticeable.  Also the Digilert is Digital so small measurements are easier to detect.  The Ludlum did not detect Gamma, and 650 CPS with a slow time constant, a 10% difference is very noticeable.  My best guess is yes, there is some radioactive material in the rainwater I sampled, however it could be attributable to Radon or Radon daughters in the atmosphere, or from normally occurring Radioactive materials found in common outdoor dust.

Unfortunately some of you may feel that it is from Fukushima and we are finally feeling the effects.  Personally I would attribute the higher levels of radiation I found to normal atmospheric phenomenon.  However, I have never tested rainwater prior to Fukushima, so I have no control data.  The jury is up, and if you have any opinion, I welcome you to post to my blog.

PM1703m = 8 ur/hr; Geiger Counter Wristwatch = .12 uSv/hr

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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on May 1st, 2011 11:28 AMView Comments (4)

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Today was a rather eventful day, and very nerve racking for me.  As you may know I have software that uploads data from a geiger counter in my living room to a website that displays background radiation rates around the world.  I turn on my computer, hook up my Digilert Geiger Counter to my computer via a patch cable, open the program and viola, background radiation levels in Yukon Oklahoma are displayed for the world to see on the World Wide Web. 

Somebody clued me in to what was happening.  My data was being watched on a conspiracy website, and it did not look good.  My data was showing background counts of 300 and 900 counts per minute!  (here are the links: and ).  I was not concerned about the radiation levels being accurate, since spikes in background occasionally measure 40 cpm, I was concerned that there may be a problem with the data being inaccurate.  I immediately took a short break and called my wife. 

The first thing I asked her to do was look at the digital display on the geiger counter, she said 14, which is the normal counts per minute.  After she read what the display I asked her to shut down the computer. 

My lesson of the day was make sure all your equipment is functioning well.  The patch cable I was using may be defective, or the jack in the geiger counter may be bent, so the data was being displayed was from the cable shorting, not from radiation levels increasing in Oklahoma. 

Note to self: Check Equipment Regularly, especially if the data is visible to the entire world to see.

As for other events, background rates in Fukushima are up around the stricken power plant.  It is suspected that there may be leaks of coolant from the reactors.  This has been detected using radiation detectors and carefully plotting out the levels of radiation through the facility and on the grounds.  30 of the workers have been exposed to levels of radiation higher than previously thought.  These workers have exceeded the 25 REM (Roentgen Equivalent Man) exposure limit. Fortunately for the general population and people outside the exclusion zone they have not been exposed to levels anywhere near the dose the workers have received.  In Chernobyl hundreds of workers where exposed to high levels of radiation, however 25 years later all the cancers that where predicted have yet to appear.  

Still enjoying low background rates in Yukon, OK, Digilert 20 Counts Per Minute; PM1703m Scintillator 6 microRoentgens per hour; Geiger Counter Wristwatch .14 microSieverts per hour

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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on April 26th, 2011 8:44 PMLeave a Comment

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April 23rd, 2011 2:49 PM

The press has stopped running stories on Fukushima.  Currently not much is happening, even though normal shutdown has not occurred.  However, for many of us the most interesting things may be going on.  Robots have been put into service to take readings around the reactors and identify all sorts of trouble areas.  The robots unfortunately resemble desk lamps with tank treads on them, never the less they are providing useful measurements on the radiation levels.  Radio controlled helicopters and airplanes with cameras have been in use as well, to video the containment buildings and grounds.  fortunately it appears that the radiation levels have been dropping.  There is some major problems though that are cropping up.  What do you do with 10's of thousands of gallons of radioactive water?  What needs to be done with the spent fuel rods that have been scattered about?  The 12 mile exclusion zone  also has its own issues, looting has been occurring.  Some people have been concerned with contamination of goods from Japan. 

On everyone's favorite auction website, I have finally had a chance to browse many of the radiation detection devices that are being sold at over inflated prices.  As a consumer I have said this before, and will say it again, be very cautious before you buy, it is a mess.  There are many devices, intended to detect microwaves and radio waves, being sold to protect people from radiation.  The problem, you would get no reading from these detectors from an antique radium pocket watch nor from a spent fuel rod or nuclear blast.  They detect the wrong type of radiation.  The next category would be broken radiation detectors.  Be very wary buying that cool looking PRI scintillator, there is a good chance it will not work.  The next problem area are dosimeters and ion chambers like the CDV 715 and Pocket CDV 742's.  Assuming they work, the only places that the units would register would be in the spent fuel ponds.  Anything that measures in the Roentgen Range is going to be too insensitive to be of any value if you are concerned with food contamination or atmospheric contamination.  The last category of equipment is that of "questionable" manufacture.  I have seen some neat equipment, that a few months ago may have sold for $30 to $100, that is going for $150 or more!  My only misgivings are how long would it truly last, since it appears cheaply constructed.  However, there are some nice items that may be very expensive now, that should drop in value in the future.

This leaves me to my atmospheric tests.  I have stopped.  The primary reason I have stopped is this, I have not detected anything in the past month, and those that have detected the plume have detected it using equipment I understand may be 100,000 times more sensitive than what I have (by the way I mean that literally!). 

I will continue to test different items, and I will test the rain, if it ever falls here in Oklahoma.  I will also have more to blog about when that occurs.  Recently I have also received some very interesting items as well, a vacuum tube that contains Cesium 137 and some small diameter scintillator probes, I intend to write about those as well, and add photos. 

I also have been uploading data to Chris Smolinski of Black Cat System's Rad Map, , my PM1703m is always on, and I often wear my geiger counter wristwatch.  My point, if you are reading this because of my radiation test for the plume, I am always testing for any source of radiation.

PM1703m = 7 uR/hr; PM1208 = .11 uSv/hr 

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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on April 23rd, 2011 2:49 PMLeave a Comment

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No new news from Fukushima Japan, cleanup of fuel rods, radioactive water, and the overall health of the heroic workers must not be interesting to the press.  There is much insanity in the world of Geiger Counter and Radiation Detector sales, during this time one must be careful of buying overpriced equipment, busted equipment, high range equipment or the wrong equipment sold as detectors of ionizing radiation (ie, microwave testers and low frequency electrical wave testers sold as Geiger Counters).  In short, if you are still in the market, be wary of sellers if you are buying something you don't truly understand.  Ask people who know and research what you are about to buy.  If you are concerned about radiation and do not trust current sources of information, and feel you can wait, I highly recommend waiting to buy a geiger counter or scintillator until the craze dies down.  Use this time to learn more, and to make a knowledgeable decision based out of knowledge rather than fear. 

That leaves me to my numbers:

04-10 04-11 04-12 04-13 04-14 04-15 04-16

Driveway 11 13.4 14.4 12.6 14.4 15.6 9

Indoor 10.6 14 15.4 15.2 14.4 14 12.6

Swipe 11.4 13.2 12.4 15.2 11.2 14.4 11.6

Another issue with noting, as you can see my radiation levels change from day to day, wind, barometric pressure and solar phenomenon all cause changes in background rates.   If you do buy a geiger counter, become familiar with it, test different items in different areas, since background rates are usually different indoors from outdoors, on your lawn or on your driveway.  If you are measuring radiation do not make a mistake that may panic you or your neighbors.  In other words, know what you are measuring.

PM1703m (in my livingroom) = 7 uR/hr; PM1208 (in my livingroom) .16 uSv/hr  

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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on April 17th, 2011 9:33 AMLeave a Comment

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More has happened and Fukushima, less reporting has occurred. The TEPCO reactors still have not had adequate cooling for weeks on end.  Radiation levels have not been low enough for workers to really get close enough to see what exactly is going on, but the US press has quieted down on the topic.  On Sunday I read an article that stated that the radiation levels in the exclusion zone at Fukushima where 400% higher than Chernobyl.  A shocking revelation if one does not question the article.  First of all I will mention that the reactor at Chernobyl released 10 times the amount of radioactivity that the four reactors at Fukishima and their fuel ponds have released so far.  Chernobyl's core was actually exposed to open air!  Chernobyl had a lead cooled reactor, with graphite moderator control rods, so they actually burned too.  The reactor exploded, none of the reactors at the Daiichi power plant have, all though they have vented tritium gas that blew up the containment buildings.  Chernobyl had no concrete containment buildings.  Why recap, Chernobyl was 25 years ago.  The article I read was comparing the current levels of radiation at Fukushima to those of current Chernobyl.  Over the two and one half decades since the explosion radioactive material has decayed, the wind, water and soil have diluted the radioactive materials.  Currently there are many places on earth that are naturally more radioactive than Chernobyl.  The beaches of the French Riviera, Some beaches in India, and Ramsar Iran all have natural background radiation levels that are higher than Chernobyl is currently.  The article is clearly poorly researched.  My best guess, if you measured the background rates of Chernobyl 25 years ago, after the accident, they would be just as high if not higher than Fukushima.  Also, the big question is 4 X What? 4 X 2 microRoentgens per hour is significant, but probably attributed to natural sources, 4 times 2 milliRoentgens per hour is very significant, and 4 times 2 Roentgens per hour is scary.  My humble opinion, post the measurements without comparisons, or if they must compare, compare the levels to something the average person can relate to, like a dental X-Ray, a chest X-Ray, or a CAT Scan.  A good Example, 10 Roentgens per hour would be like getting 10 full body CAT scans in one hour.  The average person can understand that that would not be a good thing.  There is a little more to the exposure rates at Fukushima than that, obviously there are issues of air, water and foodstuffs that are contaminated by radioactive dust, liquids and gasses, and each isotope involved can act on particular organs.  A good example, Iodine 131 and the Thyroid, but it only has a halflife of 8 days.   Cesium 137 has a halflife of about 31 years, and is absorbed in muscle.  What really has surprised me is no Mention of Strontium 90?  Strontium 90 acts like calcium, and ends up in ones bones.  However, most people understand that chemical exposure is bad, so if you are wearing protective gear, you should be safe, unless you ingest the isotopes.

There is still another major leak that hasn't been found.  10,000 gallons of radioactive water has been dumped in the ocean (however it should dilute very rapidly).  TEPCO states two reactors, 5 and 6, not involved may be salvageable, yet the Japanese government says they are scrap.  Oh, and I forgot to mention, the disaster has been upgraded to a Level 7 on the IAEC's one through seven scale, which means it is as bad or comparable to Chernobyl.  There has also been some speculation regarding U.S. GE engineers at the plant and the use of MOX (Mixed Oxide Fuels that have Plutonium in them).  I do not find that unusual considering the reactors where designed by GE in the United States.  Also MOX is an accepted nuclear fuel in these days of nuclear disarmament, a noble use for an element made for such a nefarious use.  Besides, none of that caused the disaster, remember it was a magnitude 9 earthquake followed by a tsunami, which took out diesel generators and swept away backup generator fuel tanks after the reactors scrammed.  By the way, there where borated water supplies on site, however heat is needed to allow the boron compounds to be mixed with water, and pumped into the reactors.  No diesel generators, no pumps, no hot water to keep the boron hot, no way to get it into the reactor where it belongs after a hard shut down.

This leaves me to my numbers for 4 10 2011, 4 11 2011 and 4 12 2011:


04-10 04-11 04-12

Driveway 11 13.4 14.4

Indoor 10.6 14 15.4

Swipe 11.4 13.2 12.4
Note: All Counts are in Counts Per Minute Using an SE International Tickler, Gross alpha beta and gamma

Well, that is it for today! Situation Normal, at least in Yukon Oklahoma.

PM1703m Rad Pager = 8 microRoentgens per hour, Geiger Counter Wristwatch .12 microSieverts per hour

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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on April 12th, 2011 8:16 PMLeave a Comment

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The EPA and Press makes it sound like we are all doomed from Iodine 131.  They talk about levels 10,000 times the legal limit and amounts of I-131 (Iodine 131) in amounts of fractional picocuries per liter.  The highest level of Iodine 131 in the US found in rainwater was .2 picoCuries per liter of water.  What is a picocurie?  It is not much at all, it is a measure of activity.  To start with each radioactive substance has its own level of Specific Activity, or how many particles are released when it decays.  The Curie is equal to 37 billion disintegrations per second.  This number was arrived at when Radium 226 (Madam Marie Curie's discovery) was studied.  As a tribute to Marie Curie they named the measurement the Curie.  Radium although radioactive does not decay as fast as fast as many Radioactive materials, it has a halflife of 1,620 years.  So 1 gram of radium decays at a rate of 1 Curie, or 37,000,000,000 disintegrations per second.  Elements and Isotopes with shorter halflives decay faster, for Example, 1 gram of Iodine 131 has a halflife of 8 days, so it decays at a rate of 124,000 Curies.  This leads us to the question of what a picoCurie is, it is 1/1,000,000,000 of a Curie.  Is it a dangerous amount?  Well one Liter of water weighs 1 kilogram, or 1,000 grams, the Iodine 131 in that rainwater rainwater only weighs .000000000000000000161 grams, or 1.61 X 10-18 grams.  No scale can measure amounts that low.  If you use a little chemistry and molar equations it works out to about 7,399  atoms (Thank D. Emer).  That is out of the trillions of atoms in a Kilogram of rainwater.  Half of those atoms of Iodine 131 will not be there after 8 days as well. 

Some of you may still be worried, however I 131 does exist in nature.  It is formed when uranium atoms spontaneously split, and in high energy collisions of cosmic rays in our upper atmosphere.  My best guess, we have nothing to worry about.  We should celebrate the fact that we can measure quantities of a substance that are that small!

Here are my much larger numbers:

Not worried in Yukon, OK.  Don't dink the Iodine!

 PM1703m = 7 uR/hr; Geiger Counter Wristwatch = .04 uSv hour.


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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on April 10th, 2011 10:16 AMLeave a Comment

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The cleanup may be able to be started, however there are problems that need to be resolved or explored further.  The first is "flashes" of intense radiation coming from the reactors.  Some attribute this to meltdown (more than likely the heat has damaged the cores of the reactors, but it is debatable if they have truly melted down), however it is worth mentioning.  There are periods when neutrons are detected, and why some feel it is symptomatic of a meltdown is fission reactions do release prolific amounts of neutrons.  However, there are also lots of highly energetic alpha particles being released from the decay of many radioactive materials.  When the alpha particles strike light elements (present from core damage or from seawater pumped into the reactor), neutrons can be released as well.  There are also massive releases of gamma rays. Criticality (the buildup of lumps of fissionable material in sufficient quantities to cause a fission reaction) may cause this, however TEPCO and other sources say that the radiation detection equipment may have issues with the software, or may be failing from weeks of exposure to large quantities of radiation.  So what does it all mean? The jury is hung depending on who is speaking and what sources you read.

In a previous blog I had mentioned that the explosions had more than likely scattered spent fuel rods, and yes, I was correct in my assumption.  Currently dirt is being bulldozed over any spent fuel rods that are found, since they are "too hot to handle."  As I mentioned before, a small six inch fragment of a fuel rod would emit upwards of 20,000 Roentgens per hour, it would be fatal to simply pick one up. 

On my side, I have begun to upload geiger counter readings to Rad Map.  I am using their Software, Rad 3.0 which is a Beta Version with my SE International Digilert.  Here is the map if you would like to view it .  At one time one needed to have one of their excellent geiger counters in order to participate in Rad Map, now any geiger counter can interface with the map.  I highly recommend Rad 3.0, and I also recommend the Rad Map App by for Android, they have the most complete map of private individuals around the world uploading geiger counter data.  The App is only $.99, and is the best performing Android App I have.  The mapping is the best of all the apps with radiation data.

This leaves me to the numbers, note the Data from 4/6/2011, statistically I may not have detected any of the plume deposited on my window, but it is interesting data to say the least:

Hope all is well for my readers, keep the Iodine handy, and don't drink it!

PM1703m = 7 uR/hr; PM1208 = .06 uSv/hr

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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on April 7th, 2011 8:40 PMLeave a Comment

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Interesting fixes are being used in Fukushima, and from the reports there is worldwide concern that contaminated items may reach the shores of foreign countries.  Ironically less emphasis has been spent on limiting the spread of viruses, bacteria and fungal infections than the concern for a little radioactive material.  One person with an infection flying abroad gets less notice than somebody with a little radioactive material on their shoes or clothes.  Scary stuff, people fear a little radiation more than a bacterial or viral infection that could cause an epidemic.  Radioactive materials wash off and are not contangeous, bacteria and viruses are contageous. 

You may have read about the contamination in the ocean, and very interesting as to the source, it is very interesting when one sees the source, here are the links:

The leak is from the bottom of one of the one of the spent fuel ponds. 

Here is a diagram: 

What you may be wondering is how could they have missed the leak?  Answer, no one wants to get near it!  The top of the pond measures 100 Roentgens per hour, 6 hours exposure = DEATH.  By the leak the measurements are 40 Roentgens per hour.  25 Roentgens of exposure and one can no longer work around radiation again.

The leak is flowing into the cooling water channel into the ocean.  Not good if you are planning on going for a swim.  However, the answer for decreasing some of the radiation is being filled, dilution and time. 

The leak is being being fixed with Sodium Silicates.  The sodium silicate (liquid glass) builds up and stops the leak.  Interesting trivia, with the cash for clunkers program, Sodium Silicate solution was poured into motors to clog the cooling channels and seize the motors.  In addition bath salts are being used (yes, bath salts) to detect other leaks.  The salt builds up and can be seen, and the water is colored by the bath salts.  To bad that they do not use a scintillation material, that way the leaking water would glow in the dark. 

This leads me to my results for yesterday and today:




Well, that concludes my report for today.  No impact here.  Radiation levels in Yukon, Oklahoma and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma are all normal.  Do not worry, the EPA is testing as well with equipment much better than mine.  Also remember this, just because you can detect it, does not mean it is dangerous!

PM1703m = 7 uR/hr; PM1208 Geiger Counter watch = .13 uSv/hr.   

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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on April 5th, 2011 7:03 PMLeave a Comment

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The last two days of tests have been uneventful.  However uneventful is good, also uneventful is boring. However, I will take the opportunity to talk about some other amateurs that have helped me out.  There are many others who buy, collect, restore, rebuild and modify geiger counters, and some even make their own from scratch.  There are also others that are monitoring background radiation rates, and helping to analyze the data. These are the men and women of the CDV700Club and GeigerCounterEnthusiasts in the Yahoo Groups.  If you have any interest in Geiger Counters, Scintillators or Radiation Detection Check them out!  There are even some professionals in the groups.

As I mentioned some of the others have been monitoring and processing some of the data.  One gentlemen in NE Mississippi has been doing a graph on his website and overlaying my data with his.  What it shows is there appears to be some correlation between Central Oklahoma and NE Mississippi, his records indicate that background rates may be traveling with either the winds or changes in barometric pressure.  I do not think this is due to radioactive Cesium 137 or Iodine 131, it may be from Radon that leaches from the ground due to changes in barometric pressure.  His graph may be seen at , his site also is pretty interesting, since he has a rather eclectic interest in science.  Check out Robert's site .

This leaves me to a brief update on Fukushima.  In an effort to make the spell of water more manageable a resin, similar to what is found in diapers is being used to sop up the radioactive water. As a result it is blocking the concrete they have been trying to fill the crack, and they have been unable to seal the leaks.  Not a good situation, and one way to look at it would be akin to putting butter on a burn.  Not a good idea, and it makes it harder to treat a wound, and can cause infection.  If you go to the hospital, the butter needs to be cleaned off the burn before it can be treated. 

This leaves me to my numbers:

What I found interesting, today all three 5 minute averages where the same!  I wonder what the odds of that are!

Still counting!  No radiation.  All is normal.

PM1703m 6 microRoentgens per hour; PM1208 .09 microSieverts per hour

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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on April 3rd, 2011 5:29 PMView Comments (1)

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As for the 4 stricken reactors the plan is to encase the reactors and containments in concrete.  The soil around the plans will be sprayed with an adhesive and high tech fabric mats will be laid on top of the earth to prevent contamination from spreading by the wind.  In other words, the proverbial towel is being thrown.

Probably not a bad plan, however with seawater contamination it may not be the best policy, unless they can identify the source of contamination and block it off.  I am not saying that the radiation being released into seawater is hazardous, it just doesn't make sense to compound a problem by making it less accessible!  If it continues after they have sealed off the plant, Fukushima will be fodder for environmentalists for years to come.  Also it will devalue the price of fish from Japan, and maybe even Alaska. 

Here are some high definition photos of the destroyed buildings, check it out here. 

As for your background counts in Yukon Oklahoma, here are my results:


The most interesting result was Saturday, 3/26/2011.

Still monitoring, and monitoring 24/7 with the PM1703m, 7 uR/hr and PM1208 .14 uSv/hr...


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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on March 31st, 2011 10:13 PMLeave a Comment

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Yesterday I had hear about the Plutonium found in the mountains and soil in Japan, and thought that I would offer a brief and simple explanation as to a likely cause.  Believe it or not Plutonium, if one looks hard enough, may be able to be found worldwide!  It is possible that some is from the stricken reactor Number 3, however there is another possible source.   

The radiation detection equipment that is being used to find Plutonium is extremely high tech.  It is many thousands of times more sensitive than a geiger counter, or even my scintillators. This is very notable in the detection that is taking place in the US.  In Japan they are picking up very minute trace amounts.

Where did the trace amounts come from?  Some may be from the reactor, although a more likely source put the Plutonium in the soil long before the reactor vented.  This is where a little knowledge of history is helpful.  What happened in Japan in 1945?  What happened in the Pacific from 1946 until 1962?  From 1946 until 1962 there where 105 above ground nuclear tests!  These took place in the Marshall Islands, in the near vicinity of Japan.  This is just a fraction of all the nuclear tests.  The US has detonated 1,054 nuclear weapons, 331 of those where above ground.  The Soviet Union, 715, 219 of those above ground.  The United Kingdom, 45 tests.  France, 210 nuclear tests.  China, 45 nuclear tests, 23 above ground. India, 6 tests, all underground.  Pakistan has had 2 tests, both underground.  Finally, North Korea with 2 tests, both underground.  A total of 2,070 Nuclear tests, With more than 600 Nuclear tests above ground.  Many of these devices used plutonium as the fissionable, or bomb material.  An atomic bomb or a hydrogen bomb (which uses an atomic bomb as a trigger) at best is only 20 to 30% efficient.  A majority of the Plutonium or Uranium is scattered or found in fallout.  Is a nuclear war survivable?  We are all still here!

See my blog on Plutonium .  Also for a well written article on human exposure to plutonium, read The Human Plutonium Experiments.

Now for my 15 minute test results:

Situation normal!  Note to self, if I ever hit the lotto I need a Super Cooled Germanium Gamma Spectroscope and a Ludlum Instruments Pocket Saver!

PM1703 M = 6 microRoentgen / hr; Geiger Counter Wristwatch .06 microSieverts per hour       

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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on March 29th, 2011 8:26 PMLeave a Comment

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Well, here are today's results, in graph form and raw numbers:


After working on this for some time a bit of statistical analysis really needs to be applied to my numbers.  Admittedly, I was a bit over excited about what I had seen on Saturday, and like many people jumped to an improper conclusion about what I was seeing.  My original hypothesis was that if the window swipe count was higher, then "bingo" the smoking gun, or in this case fission products from Japan!  However, the more I learn about statistics the Swipe count from Saturday was simply a statistical anomaly.  This is where it gets a bit complicated.  The first day I used a dirty window, so I will remove that test from the bunch.  This leaves me 11 days of testing, so just using the swipe test the average it is 12.3 CPM.  Now a bit of statistics needs to be applied (the Poisson Method), so adding together all the counts (remember, 5 minute count average) is 677.  If I take the Square Root, 26.0192236625 and divide by 5 I get the sigma, or in other words, I need to see 5.2 counts per minute average more to have anything that is statistically significant and indicates "yes" the plume is detectable with the equipment I have.

Obviously, that puts a damper on my Saturday "discovery".  So now what am I testing for?   The EPA says that what they have found is a very small amount, if I detect it then I will know without a doubt that there is a greater amount of radioactive contamination, since I am not using as high tech equipment as they are.  They are using continuous filtration of air and very high dollar germanium detectors (I saw one on eBay once, $10,000!).  Also they need to be cooled with liquid nitrogen.  So even operating one is expensive.  At least now I know what I am looking for.  However, even if I do get the expected count, that doesn't necessarily mean that the radiation is coming from contamination from Japan. 

Still Monitoring in Yukon Oklahoma, PM1703m Pocket Scintillator 7 microRoentgen per hour; PM1208 Geiger Counter Wristwatch .05 microSieverts per hour      

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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on March 28th, 2011 6:20 PMView Comments (1)

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Here are the numbers from last night's test.  Weather conditions wher cold and Drizzling. 


Driveway 15.6 12.6 13.6 13.2 9.6 13.6 9.8 11.4 12.2 11.8 15.2

Indoor Count 15.8 14.4 14.2 14.2 11.2 17.4 14 15.6 15.6 13 12

Swipe 14.2 11.6 13.2 13.6 10.8 14 9.8 11 11.2 14.2 14

Note: All Counts are in Counts Per Minute Using an SE International Digilert, Gross alpha beta and gamma

More tests are needed, this does not look as compelling as 3/26/2011.

PM1703m = 7 uR/hr; pm1208 .10 uSv/hr




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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on March 28th, 2011 4:58 AMView Comments (2)

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Yesterday evening I did my 15 minute test as usual and yielded some interesting results. I may have detected some "fallout" or radiation from particles in the Plume from Japan. 

However, there are some problems with my numbers that I will address up front.  First of all, I have two controls, the outdoor "Driveway" count that I am using since my lawn is slightly radioactive from NORM (naturally occurring radioactive materials) in the soil and use of phosphate fertilizers.  The other Control group is my indoor count, which typically has been higher than outdoor and swipe test counts.  This is more than likely due to brick construction of my home.

Another factor is the number of tests I have done. Unfortunately I do not have weeks or months of data.  I have only started 3/17/2011.  It would be nice to have done this months or years in advance, however time and attention has not been allocated towards the project.  Also, this is my first abnormal test that meets my hypothesis that the swipe test would have a higher 5 minute average counts per minute.

My numbers do not square with statistics quite yet either.  Statistically I should have 18 or more Counts per minutes to indicate the presence of radioactive materials.  This may change, we have actually an accumulation of rain on the ground this morning.  Rainwater also may contain radioactive materials from the air and natural sources, like radon, and manmade sources like fallout, assuming my higher count yesterday is attributable to radioactive materials in the air.

Even if my count was higher, lacking long term data, I cannot be 100% sure that the source is "fallout" or the plume form Japan, I lack lots of lead shielding and gamma ray spectroscopy equipment.

In defense of my data, it meets my hypothesis that the window swipe 5 minute count average would be higher than driveway average count rate and indoor average count rate (due to the concentration of dust and dirt in the air collecting on the window glass).  Also, this has been the first time that the five minute average of the window swipe has been higher on a daily basis than the previous 9 tests of the control group's 5 minute averages.  This also coincides with the date that the plume, "fallout" from Fukushima Japan is supposed to arrive in Oklahoma.   

Never the less, I am curious about what today's test results (3/27/2011) will reveal.  I will also continue to test after today.


Raw Data:


03/17/11 03/18/11 03/19/11 03/20/11 03/21/11 03/22/11 03/23/11 03/24/11 03/25/11 03/26/11

Driveway 15.6 12.6 13.6 13.2 9.6 13.6 9.8 11.4 12.2 11.8

Indoor Count 15.8 14.4 14.2 14.2 11.2 17.4 14 15.6 15.6 13

Swipe 14.2 11.6 13.2 13.6 10.8 14 9.8 11 11.2 14.2

Note: All Counts are in Counts Per Minute Using an SE International Digilert, Gross alpha beta and gamma

This test is not definitive, however it may indicate something. If it is radioactivity from the Japanese Nuclear Power Plant, it is definitely at a level that is not dangerous.  I am not trying to create an alarm or worry with any readers.   

PM1703m = 7 uR/hr; Pm1208 Wristwatch = .11 uSv/hr

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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on March 27th, 2011 9:31 AMLeave a Comment

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The press is having a field day with throwing out all sorts of scary numbers.  Radiation levels 10,000 times background, Iodine levels in the water off the coast of the Fukushima Daiichi Complex 1,250 times normal, all sorts of multiples.  Problem with the numbers they state there is no perspective. 

A good example is iron compounds or vitamins.  A small amount of iron for example is a good thing, it is healthy, helps your body to transport oxygen throughout your system.  In larger amounts it is very toxic, and you will die.  Same with Vitamin A, too much, and one will die.  A little bit of sunlight is healthy, it helps the body to synthesis vitamin D, too much, and you will be sunburned and fatigued for a couple of days. 

Radiation in large quantities is bad for you, however in the amounts that are being detected outside of Fukushima, it may be good to limit quantities of exposure, but it more than likely may have no detrimental effects on the long term health of the individuals.  For example, the Iodine found on the leafy vegetables is not in them (yet).  If vegetables are washed or rinsed well they should be safe to consume. With the pesticides and fertilizers used today, washing your vegies is a good idea.  It is a good idea for children to avoid exposure.  Longer term it may be a good idea to avoid vegetables if they are radioactive, since the radioactive materials will be absorbed by the plants.  Iodine 131 should not be an issue long term since it has a very short half life and decays into non radioactive Iodine after 10 half lives, 80 days.  Isotopes of concern are Strontium 90 since it mimics Calcium, and Cesium 137, since it mimics potassium and is absorbed throughout the body.  However, again trace amounts do not mean that one will get cancer, or suffer any ill effects.  I suspect that long term property within 10 miles of the plant will be considered a loss, however I think that it could be habitable without issue. 

That leaves me to the results of my swipe test:


03/17/11 03/18/11 03/19/11 03/20/11 03/21/11 03/22/11 03/23/11 03/24/11 03/25/11

Driveway 15.6 12.6 13.6 13.2 9.6 13.6 9.8 11.4 12.2

Indoor Count 15.8 14.4 14.2 14.2 11.2 17.4 14 15.6 15.6

Swipe 14.2 11.6 13.2 13.6 10.8 14 9.8 11 11.2

Note: All Counts are in Counts Per Minute Using an SE International Digilert, Gross alpha beta and gamma

PM1703m = 8 uR/hr, PM1208 .13 uSv/hr

Today a very light rain is falling, maybe I will detect something today.

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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on March 26th, 2011 12:21 PMLeave a Comment

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According to the map I posted a few days ago the plume from the stricken Japanese reactors and fuel ponds should be arriving in a few days.  It has already passed through Seattle, Washington. This was yesterday, the results?  EPA Claims .1 disintegrations per secondover background!  That is an infinitesimally small amount. 

The reactor and or pools have stopped smoking, good news.  However, two workers standing in water were exposed to radiation, water seeped through their suits, and the radiation burned their legs.  Definitely not a good thing, however they are alive and more than likely will recover.  If you are reading this blog you may be up to date with all this news, however if you are looking for up to date summaries by the pros, and not the general media, check out this link: .  Looks as though more drama could unfold, but all indications seem they will be able to get coolant flowing again.  At Three Mile Island in Hershey, PA the full extent of the damage to the reactor was not known until 5 years after the incident.

As for the results for Oklahoma, here is my updated spreadsheet:


03/17/11 03/18/11 03/19/11 03/20/11 03/21/11 03/22/11 03/23/11 03/24/11

Driveway 15.6 12.6 13.6 13.2 9.6 13.6 9.8 11.4

Indoor Count 15.8 14.4 14.2 14.2 11.2 17.4 14 15.6

Swipe 14.2 11.6 13.2 13.6 10.8 14 9.8 11

Note: All Counts are in Counts Per Minute Using an SE International Digilert, Gross alpha beta and gamma

Currently on my PM1703m = 7 uR/hr; PM1208 Dosimeter Watch .17 uSv/hr  

Situation Normal, I will be performing the next test tomorrow around 5:30 PM CST.

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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on March 24th, 2011 10:50 PMLeave a Comment

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I am still doing my daily test and one might wonder if I will detect any radioacive materials from the reactors and burning fuel ponds, an I am beginning to wonder the same.  Unfortunately I am not monitoring 24/7 with a geiger counter, and I am hoping to capture some of the radioactive material on my west facing front window.  I also have a secondary source of data, my PM1703m logs background counts and stores them in its memory.  I will be downloading that data and posting as well. 

Another issue that one might wonder is why the SE International Digilert?  That is a very simple answer, it detects alpha, beta and gamma, has an alarm that can be set to go off at different background rates, and it gives me a precise count over one minute or any time period.  I chose 5 minutes feeling that a longer count would be more effective at detecting small variations in background rate, however it may not be the ideal setup, and I may not be detecting anything except for natural variations in background rate.  Note to self, test for radon!  My indoor count is much higher than outdoor counts.

Another thing I have learned is 24/7 monitoring can be invaluable.  There is software available for 24/7 monitoring, free and paid for versions.  However, the free software only works on Window XP, I run Windows 7 64 bit.  Mineral Lab and SE International have software that uploads data to a national map found here: .  They also have a Android Cell phone apps (paid and free) called "A Radiation Monitor US."  A nice map, however I have yet to invest in their software. Problem with the map is that it is a mix of devices nationwide, and only the US.  Also, one cannot zoom in on the particular location of an online geiger counter.

An even better online map: .  This is from Chris Smolinski of Blackcat Systems ( ) .  On his map one can zoom in, and he sells his geiger counters with software for Mac and PC to people around the world.  It also appears that his Geiger Counters have a broader coverage and he has sold them worldwide! Black Cat Systems has an Android app too which is in my humble opinion superior to the Mineral Lab offering called "Radiation Map Tracker." He will soon have an iPhone or iPad version available as well.  Currently he has some really neat software for the iPhone as well.  Radiation Map Tracker allows one to zoom in on a particular online geiger counter so you can see the city and major streets the geiger counter is located near, and also one can see some data from Japan and other countries.  The geiger counters are all his, so there is more standardization of data.  Note to self, need to get a GM 10 or GM 45 for continuous monitoring of radiation data.

Speaking of data, here are the test results from yesterday:


03/17/11 03/18/11 03/19/11 03/20/11 03/21/11 03/22/11 03/23/11

Driveway 15.6 12.6 13.6 13.2 9.6 13.6 9.8

Indoor Count 15.8 14.4 14.2 14.2 11.2 17.4 14

Swipe 14.2 11.6 13.2 13.6 10.8 14 9.8

Note: All Counts are in Counts Per Minute Using an SE International Digilert, Gross alpha beta and gamma

PM1703m = 6 uR/hr ; PM1208 = .14 uSv/hr

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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on March 24th, 2011 7:11 AMLeave a Comment

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Today I am just reporting the numbers.  The Test I did last night had some interesting results, the indoor count was quite high.  Here is a spreadsheet that has my results from the past 6 Days:


03/17/11 03/18/11 03/19/11 03/20/11 03/21/11 03/22/11

Driveway 15.6 12.6 13.6 13.2 9.6 13.6

Indoor Count 15.8 14.4 14.2 14.2 11.2 17.4

Swipe 14.2 11.6 13.2 13.6 10.8 14

Note: All Counts are in Counts Per Minute Using an SE Internationl Digilert, Gross alpha beta and gamma

Not sure why my in house count was so high, I will keep testing.

PM1703m = 7 uR/hr PM1208 = 10 uR/hr 




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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on March 23rd, 2011 7:03 AMLeave a Comment

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The University of Maryland Dept. of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science prepared an Excellent (yet small) map of the expected path of the plume from Fukushima, Japan. If you are interested in the path click HERE .  As for the expected date March 24 through March 26 would be my best chance of detecting it, although from the map it may be passing to the north and hitting Kansas.

Today I did the 15 minute swipe test a little later than usual.  The weather was 70's, winds from the south, and it was overcast and looked as though it was about to rain.   Here is the raw data:

Driveway = 9.6 CPM (counts per minute)

Swipe (from front window) = 10.8 CPM

Interior House = 11.2 CPM

Not sure why the radiation levels have been dropping. Could be solar X-rays are sheilded by the clouds, the wind has blown a lot of the dust out of the air (soil contains naturally occurring radioactive materials) or I may have missed the plume! 

PM1703m Scintillator = 7 microR / hr; PM1208 Geiger Counter Watch = 13 microS / hr. 


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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on March 21st, 2011 8:39 PMView Comments (1)

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Last night ay 6:00 PM I did the swipe test. 

The Driveway = 13.2 CPM;

Window Paper Towel = 13.6

Inside = 14.2

Overall the counts have dropped the last couple of days.

PM1703m = 7 uR/hr, PM1208 13 uSv/hr  

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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on March 21st, 2011 6:39 AMView Comments (1)

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I did do my 15 minute test yesterday, I just did not post until today.

I thought I would mention that the plume may have hit the US, and depending on what one reads, it may or may not be over Oklahoma.  Walgreen's does have Iodine, there where a couple of bottles on the shelf.  I did not ask about ThyroSafe or KI pills.  However, I would suspect if there was a nuclear accident, or event that would effect people in the US, Iodine pills would not be available as one would think. Am I instructing you to take Iodine now?  No.  However if you feel sluggish or tired you just may try it! 

I thought I might post a few words about other protective agents for fallout, plumes, and other mythical cures for radiation sickness or ingestion of radioactive contaminants.

Salt, table (NaCl, sodium chloride) or No Salt (KCl or Potassium Chloride):  What it is supposed to do is block absorbtion of Cesium 137 or other Radioactive Isotopes that mimic salt or electrolytes.  Expect to have to ingest 6.6 pounds of it.  You would die before you ate enough!

Seaweed:  Works somewhat, however it works because it has Iodine in it, so liquid Iodine on the skin or KI (Potassium Iodide Tablets) are a far better source.

Red Wine: May or may not be effective:  The tannins found in red wine do help somewhat to bolster your immune system, however wether or not it is effective for ingesting radioactive contaminants or radiation exposure has yet to be seen.

Beer: Actually, since beer is a diuretic, it is and has been used to "flush" Tritium from ones body.  However fresh or bottled water is just as effective.

That leaves me to my test, done 6 PM yesterday afternoon:

765 sq inch window swipe with paper towels and a name brand blue amonia window cleaner: 13.2 CPM (Counts Per Minute) average;

Driveway Count: 13.6 CPM average

Indoor Count: 14.2 CPM average

Guess I am not detecting the plume, however I will keep testing over the next few weeks!

PM1703 = 7 µR/hr; PM1208 Geiger Counter Wristwatch = .10 µSv/hr

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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on March 20th, 2011 11:36 AMLeave a Comment

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March 19th, 2011 1:07 PM

The topic and statement that Plutonium fuel is being used in Reactor #3 and worries of release have been planted in the psyche of news followers.  Just last night I heard this concern voiced again onm one of the major news stations (I critique all the news networks as a whole, and do not single them out, they need to employee fact checkers!).

The fuel used is this reactor is a mix of elements, when it was fresh it had both Uranium and Plutonium in it as an oxide (rust essentially) mixed into ceramic material.  This fuel is called Mixed Oxide Fuel, or MOX for short.  MOX fuel is very useful, in fact it is a way to get rid of weapons grade Plutonium.  As for the exact mixture I am not privy to that knowledge, however it would be in the ballpark of 5 to 7 % plutonium Oxides, with some fissionable Uranium and depleted uranium oxides, and of course some sort of Ceramic binder. 

This is where people start fear mongering.  Plutonium Burns!  It has a half-life of 500,000 years! It is the most toxic substance on Earth!  It's radioactive!  Oh my gosh it is used in nuclear weapons! 

Isotopes of plutonium are used in nukes, however when used in MOX fuel it is an oxide, so it is already burnt (chemically) and would not be able to used in a bomb (it is not pure enough) and finally it is mixed with other ellements which make it unuseable for a bomb.  As for its halflife, Plutonium 239 has a half-life of 24,110 years, and even if you look at it from a decay standpoint there will be zero plutonium 239 after 241,100 years (10 half lives), hardly 500,000 years,but definately a long time. Plutonium does exist in nature (look up Oklo, Africa, or natural nuclear reactor) through a peculiar chemical combination of naturally occuring radioactive and non radioactive minerals. As for the toxicity of Plutonium 239, this is a safety precaution that was taken during the first production of it  for the fat man bomb.  Because chemists new Radium was a toxic metal, they assumed because Plutonium had a higher atomic number, it would be many times more toxic.  This has been proven wrong.  One needs to ponder this with their morning cup of coffee or while sipping or chugging their favorite energy drink.  14 grams of caffiene is toxic (the approximate weight of 14 small paperclips).  14 grams of Plutionium 239 is also toxic.  Unfortunately there have been people who have accidentally and even worse, purposely (without their knowledge and even with their knowledge) ingested Plutonium!  What did scientists find out?  In extremely small quantities (micrograms and nanograms) the exposed individuals lived longer than the general population!  As for the dark side, there was a slight propensity for a rare form of bone cancer (it could not be determined with such a small sample group if it was caused by the plutonium).  Think about this, there have been many atmspheric nuclear tests.  Nuclear bombs using Plutonium are no where near 100% efficient at using up all the Plutonium.  There has been pounds of it spread throughout our atmosphere.  We do not have people dropping dead all over the earth.  The anti nuclear folks and news (also the movie "Silkwood") say that the amount of plutonium that you cannot see, that would fit on the point of a pin, will kill you.  Just drama, don't get involved with the hype.           

Digilert 12 CPM (Counts Per Minute), PM1703m 6 microRoentgens/hr, PM1208 12 microSeiverts/hour 

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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on March 19th, 2011 1:07 PMView Comments (1)

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This Video was posted on YouTube, somewhat scatiacle, and in Japanese but it is subtitled:

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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on March 19th, 2011 10:39 AMLeave a Comment

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Well, again an eventful day for Japan.  The good news is as follows, it appears that the Japanese where correct with the 19 mile evacuation zone.  The IAEC (International Atomic Energy Commission, part of the UN) has surveyed the affected areas and found that the highest areas of contamination are within those areas.  A 50 mile buffer zone may not be needed. 

As for not so good news, contaminated people have been found outside of Japan, one passenger set off radiation alarms after deplaning at Chicago O'hare airport yesterday.  The Japanese have also upgraded from a 4 to a 5 on the IAEC's 1 to 7 scale.  1 is a very minor incident, 5 is on par with Three Mile Island, and 7 is Cherynoble.  In my humble opinion this was a 5 from the start, and is now a 6, or maybe Three Mile Island should be considered a 3 or a 4.  There were no explosions at Three Mile Island, some tritium was released into the air, and no radioactive contamination was found in cow's milk or food products in Hershey, Pennsylvania following the accident.  

The DOE folks are currently recommending a mix of sand, boron and lead shot be thrown in the fuel ponds. The ponds where damaged in the earthquakes from recent reports, and water either leaks out or boils away, or a combination of the two.  Again very frustrating to hear of plans, but not knowing exactly why they are doing it.  If there was better reporting by TEPCO and the Japanese government maybe some nuclear engineer or reactor worker could come up with a brilliant simple idea.

Am I still pro nuclear?  Absolutely!  Remember this was an unusually large earthquake compounded by a tsunami, and unforseen structural damage to the reactors.  Reactors can be built better, containments can be designed stronger, backup generators can be designed better, and new procedures can be created to assure the safety of the public. If borated water where available and pumped into the reactors right after they where scrammed, attention could have been paid to the fuel ponds.  In the 19th century hundreds if not thousands of people where killed in steam engine explosions, we overcame that and now it is the basis of all power generation.  Nothing is without risk, and anything worth having entails risk.

This leaves me to my 15 minute test (actually it takes longer than that).  I call it my 15 minute test because I am taking three sets of 5 minute counts from three separate areas.

The intention is that the tests will be done approximately 24 hours apart.  Here are today's measurements:

765 sq. inch window swipe (paper towel measured indoors) = 11.6 CPM

Driveway = 12.6 CPM

Interior Home = 14.4 CPM

I cannot account for the drop in outdoor count, my current theory is this, it was sunny yesterday, today it was somewhat overcast, and the winds where more from the north.  I do feel that the interior count was higher due to the presence of brick and "stale air."  More tests should yield more usable data. 

PM1703m = 7 microRoentgen per hour, PM1208 "James Bond" watch = .08 microSieverts per hour

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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on March 18th, 2011 8:04 PMView Comments (1)

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In this blog I will briefly go over the events of the past couple of days (I did not blog yesterday, my bad).  Evidently the spent fuel ponds where above the primary containment.  A major mess.  #3 may have a containment breach, and # 4 spent fuel pond has had either the water boil away, or fractures have occurred and water has drained.  Not a good scenario, the cleanup will take years.  There is a fire, and to cool one of the reactors and add water to the spent fuel pond the Japanese have tried dumping water via helicopter, and that has proven relatively futile.  They are currently trying high pressure water cannons to get the water to where it needs to be.  Unfortunately the best way to cool the reactor and pond must not be accessible, either due to damage or intense radiation, pumping it directly where it is needed.  From what I have heard radiation in the vicinity of the pond may measure anywhere between 100 Roentgens per hour and 450 Roentgens Per Hour (600 Roentgen exposure to a man or woman is fatal 0ver 50% of the time). 

Worth mentioning, the "Fukushima 50," the 50 men and women who are heroically working in this nightmarish industrial disaster.  They have evacuated and went back at least once. 

Is this situation serious?  Absolutely.  Is it as bad as the press makes it sound? Probably not.  After all, it is a good sign that none of the 50 have succumbed to illness caused by radiation.  These are ordinary humans, not superheroes, however acting heroic in the worst of situations.

A crew from the U.S. DOE arrived in Japan, and last I heard where in Tokyo.  Their assessment was that instead of evacuating people in a 19 mile distance from the plant, people should be evacuated that are within 50 miles of the plant.  It appears that the DOE is much more conservative about radiation exposure than the Japanese.  However, in a densely populated country ravaged by earthquake, tsunami, facing fuel and food shortages, the feasibility may be questionable.  Also if exposure estimates are over, the people may not be in as much danger as the DOE believes.

There is no chance of a nuclear explosion.  It is a mess, but even if there is a meltdown at any of the stricken reactors, the fuel will not melt fast enough nor in the proper geometry to cause an atomic explosion.

This leaves us with the question, will there be fallout here in the US?  Actually fallout is a very bad characterization of the radioactive substances that have been wafted into the atmosphere.  The best description would be a radioactive plume.  Fallout is highly radioactive, it consists of radioactive particles and ash from buildings, soil, bomb casing and most everything that has been either blown into the atmosphere or vaporized after a nuclear explosion.  it falls to the earth as ash, liquids and particles.  Contact with it can cause burns if you are exposed for any length of time. 

The cloud and plume from Fukushima plant is radioactive, but it will be diluted, and a large portion of the solids and liquids should have condensed and fallen into the ocean, however experts expect some to hit the coast of California. 

That leaves our safety in question.  Some people are panicking over this info, and needlessly so.  Unless we are being lied to, there should not be anything to worry about.  You may feel the urge to get a geiger counter, however now may be the most expensive time to get one.  Also, you may follow the advice of a website, and end up with a "geiger counter" that will only alarm if you are at the gates of the TEPCO plant.  If you have disposable income, buy a good low level geiger counter or scintillator, if you wish. Are KI Pills a good idea?  Yes, but you can also protect your thyroid with Tincture of Iodine almost as effectively as taking the pills.  If there is radioactive material in the rain, Remove your shoes at the door, take a shower, wash your clothes and filter your drinking water, no worries.

Now, I personally live in the middle of the US, quite some distance from the coast. I am going to try to measure the plume here in Yukon, Oklahoma.

To start with I wiped the dust from one of my front windows using paper towels and a name brand blue glass cleaner, the window surface area is 765 Square inches, Using my digilert geiger counter, which is alpha, beta and gamma sensitive I measured the paper towel over 5 minutes after cleaning the window.  The gm counter averaged 14.2 Counts per Minute.

Next, I measured the air, over 5 minutes over the concrete surface of my driveway.  The average was 15.6 Counts per Minute.

As another control I measured the air in my living room.  There was an average of 15.8 counts per minute. 

These numbers are my baseline.  If the plume hits Oklahoma, I would expect to have a high count on my front window from radioactive particles stuck to the glass, a somewhat high count in open air, and a relatively low count in my living room.

Window = 14.2 CPM, Driveway = 15.6 CPM, Living Room = 15.8 CPM

PM1703m = 8 microRoentgens per hour, PM1208 .10 microSieverts per Hour.

Posted in:General
Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on March 17th, 2011 8:14 PMLeave a Comment

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Well, people have begun to sort things out with the Japanese Reactors and what is going on.  By people I mean educated, credited and credible nuclear professionals.  Currently if you want to see the best summary and most accurate check here: - The Massachussets Institute of Technology Nuclear Science and Engineering Nuclear Information Hub.

The folks from the United States sent to Japan are from the DOE.  Amazingly the Japanese are looking to the US for expertise in Nuclear Accidents and Nuclear Technology.

Radiation Levels are dropping ath the Nuclear Power Plant Now, and in Tokyo as well.

PM1703m 7 uR/hr; PM1208 12 uSv/hr; Digilert 20 CPM

Posted in:General
Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on March 15th, 2011 8:03 PMLeave a Comment

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Yesterday I made an error, however initial reports where in error.  The radiation level just outside the gates of the earthquake and tsunami ravaged nuclear power plant are 1.2 Roentgens per hour.  As for the 40 REM/hr measurement that is inbetween reactors 3 and 4.  I will also provide you with another update, the 50 workers on site are currently leaving.  Does this mean that they have given up, no.  A group of people from the US is or has flown to Japan to help out.  I must also report that it appears that Hillary Clinton may have shipped Generators to Japan, but again reports are sketchy. 

I have received reports from Great Britain, Italy and Japan from other hobbyists monitoring with geiger counters.  Those two areas are normal background with similar instruments.  GB is .10 microSieverts per hour, and Italy is at .16 microSieverts per hour background.  I have received a report that background is elevated in California from 1 hobbyist there, however there may be other factors at play, so I would disregard that report for now.  

I am also adding to my instructions if you are worried about contamination, be aware of the source of your water.  Currently in Oklahoma City and Yukon the tap water is resevoir fed.  I do not know about filtration or purification processes here so I naturally filter all drinking water.  My water filters consistantly come up with no elevated levels of radiation, so if fallout does arrive it may be interesting to test my water filters periodically.  The US army Survival Guide suggests that bathing with lightly contaminated water is not hazardous.

If you are concerned, even though radiation may be barely detectable from fallout from the powerplant, filter your water or drink spring and or distilled water.  Nevertheless, drinking filtered tap water is always a good idea.

PM1703m 7 MicroRoentgens Per Hour; PM1208 .10 microSieverts per Hour, Digilert 10 Counts Per Minute - All Normal.

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Posted by Chris Cavanaugh on March 15th, 2011 8:58 AMView Comments (1)

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