Thursday, March 31, 2011

Radiation Monitoring... Part II

Updates (4/2/2011)

  • UW has published a paper on the magnitude of airborne fission products arriving from Fukushima (1)
  • UC Berkeley Nuclear engineering department is now testing rain water and commercial milk supplies (1,2)
  • Japan has apparently communicated to the DOE that two reactors have suffered partial meltdowns (1)
  • There is discussion of localized and intermittent criticality inside the damaged reactors (1)
  • "Film is Truth" in Bellingham, WA has in its catalog an informative, and touching 2007 film: 
    Heavy Water

    A film for Chernobyl
    Directed by David Bickerstaff and Phil Grabsky

Am I the only one who isn't quite willing to believe that Fukushima poses no threat to the West Coast? Yesterday, radioactive iodine was found in milk in Spokane.  I can think of at least four dairy regions on the West Coast that are regularly buffeted by jet stream winds that often pass over Japan including Whatcom County which has one of the top dairy producing areas in the United States. The EPA is telling us that these trace amounts found in their filters are "thousands of times below" any levels of concern. However:
  • There is quite a legitimate debate about the dangers of low-level radiation  and
  • Fukushima crisis is not just "far from over" (1,2,3).  In reality, there is a possibility it could release considerable amounts of radiation in the future.

To see a truly scary video about the "cover-up" at Chernobyl and the international study that reveals nearly 1 million people have died due to radiation releases from that accident, watch toxicologist Janette Sherman, M.D in this interview discuss this publication.

Whatcom County is more open to ground level winds coming from the Pacific because (unlike Seattle), it is not so blocked by the Olympic Pennisula. The nearest EPA monitoring station is Seattle, practically a different micro-climate and located 90 miles south. Since no health authority is publishing or monitoring radiation levels in Whatcom County currently, I put together this crude experiment below with my Aware Electronics RM-80 (There is monitoring with equipment from the same manufacturer going on in Seattle and Vashon Island and in Japan.) The usual disclaimers apply - I am not a physicist, health professional, or statistician, I am using a home PC geiger counter designed to measure background radiation levels, accept these results at your own risk, etc.

Collected rain water for 24 hours. I then measured:
  • rain water
  • milk from a local grocery store
  • soil(wet) from my garden plot
  • tap water
  • bottled water
  • empty jar (control)

 for (25 each) 30 second periods and recorded micro-Roentgen/HR averages. The experiment looked like this:

From top left counter-clockwise: 24 hr rain water, local milk(?), soil, water.

Results for my experiment looked like this:
  • empty glass jar 8.18 average micro-Roentgens/HR
  • bottled_water 8.27 "
  • milk 8.27 "
  • tap_water 8.61 "
  • (rain) water 24 hr. 8.70 "
  • soil (wet from rain) 9.27 "
Here are the chart results. It can be downloaded in high resolution from here.

An excellent article I found on using anti-oxidants as protection from low level radiation can be here:
"Rationale for using multiple antioxidants in protecting humans against low doses of ionizing radiation.".  The disaster at Fukushima may well turn out to be the engineering and systemic disaster of the 21st century to date.

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