Buying a Radiation Detector


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This email will address the questions people have raised in private emails to me. If the subject doesn't interest you, you can skip it.

As you know, we are rapidly heading towards the three-month mark with the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Worse, there is as yet no plan for how to end the nightmare. I am personally very committed to using the next years of my life to find solutions for the diseases that will arise because of exposure and for helping others who are working on water and soil remediation. There is a plan and I will discuss this later, but for those who want to buy a personal dosimeter or geiger counter, I will recount some of my adventures.

A few weeks ago, there were no new models available. If you went to the manufacturer's web site, you saw (and usually still see) various messages about out of stock with estimated ship dates 4-6 weeks or nine months into the future. There was nothing available for immediate shipment and eBay had less than 200 Chernobyl vintage units, most of which required new certificates to prove they were in working order. Since the basic design is not unique, the shortage was due to components, all of which had been bought up.

The first new contender is Soeks from Russia. There are lots of videos on showing how it works. It totally flooded eBay. At first, the prices were $300-400, then the availability was so much greater than the demand that prices dropped below $300 but they seem to have stabilized now around $299-330. This is today the most readily available model, but delivery takes a while. Dr. Hiranuma got one more than a week ago. I ordered one a few days after she did but mine has not arrived yet.

The Soeks model has some nice features and some limitations. The problem we are facing is that initially we were made to believe that radioactive iodine was the main concern. If you recall, I wrote several posts saying "not yet" or "cesium" but let's pause for a moment and get the picture in focus.

There is background radiation so what we need to do is measure levels above background. We then need to check for all the types of radiation. Every radioactive material has not just a half-life but a specific way of decaying. Iodine emits 90% beta particles and 10% gamma rays. Cesium-137 is also a beta emitter. So, if we only need to check for these two kinds of radiation, the Soeks and many of the Chernobyl models would probably do the job. However, very soon after the disaster, there was a report that strontium-90 was found in Moscow. All heads should have been reeling at that point because the highly sophisticated nuclear monitoring agencies can actually determine not just the type of radioactivity but the source, this because each decay material has unique characteristics that can be interpreted like fingerprints.

Strontium-90 is also a beta emitter, but its presence as far away as Moscow suggested that there had not only been a meltdown of the MOX fuel reactor (#3) but an explosive force powerful enough to lift this material into the atmosphere (as opposed to landing on the ground near the reactor). This also meant that uranium and plutonium had most likely been released. When uranium decays, it emits alpha particles. These are less penetrating but they are more dangerous if inhaled or ingested. In short, failure to inform the international community of risks was, in fact, unconscionable — and few consumer-priced gadgets available for radiation detection were designed to detect alpha radiation.

Let's keep moving: plutonium is even more complicated because there are many different isotopes in MOX fuel. Most emit alpha particles but there is one that could be released, not sure if it has been released, that is a beta emitter.

Now, if you do as I have done and watch some videos, you will also discover that personal dosimeters that are designed to alert wearers to threshold limits are more suitable for those who want cumulative data, i.e., since day one, how much exposure have you had and how close are you to needing to relocate? These are intended for use by people with specific risk factors and they are less suitable for testing foods and soil and other potentially contaminated items.

In contrast to dosimeters, geiger counter type devices are either analog or digital. The analog models have a needle that is quick and responsive. The digital models have LCD screens that are, for the most part, quite slow. Moreover, once again, nearly all models have to be in quite close proximity to the test substance in order to register anything.

As you probably realize, we divided up the work a bit. Carl was the one researching devices and testing so I only used the first unit for a couple of hours before surrendering it to him. I think it is a useful device in an affordable price range. The spinach test is the easiest to understand. There was a bulky bag of spinach and only one hot spot so I had to keep turning the bag or moving the geiger counter. What I want to do next is see whether or not I can actually isolate a single leaf that is radioactive and whether or not washing it will make a difference. Then, of course, I plan to cook it and test it again, but we need to have a geiger counter for this. I'll ask Carl to come over so we can experiment and report.

For the moment, there are only a couple of points I want to underscore. If radioactivity is due to alpha particles, most devices will not detect this and ingesting the particulates would be very unhealthy, not a little unhealthy but seriously unhealthy. The second point is that most "wearable" devices only work when placed very close to the test object. They provide information on background radiation and allow you to perform simple tests of materials and food that might be radioactive. Dr. Hiranuma and I have collected a few minerals and other objects like lantern mantels and beads for comparative purposes. The geiger counter works when placed very, very close. This is true to one degree or other of all units. They function within a range. Practically speaking, this means that no governmental agency, farmer, or supermarket has the capacity to test our food supply. If any relevant testing is done, it will be done by individuals.

At this point, we are waiting for delivery of detectors that were pre-ordered and/or shipped. There will be more reports as these devices arrive. Meanwhile, as mentioned a few days ago, I am looking for a way to convert the assets of Sacred Medicine Sanctuary to a research institute. Then, we will be looking at what is required to correct damage to health and to the environment from radiation and other threats of modern civilization. Yesterday, we set up the guidelines for researching transfer of electrons from antioxidant food and herbs to known radioactive substances. The goal is to see whether the radioactivity will stop and the substances rendered harmless. Some of this work will be done here and some in Sri Lanka, relying on the training in ancient Ayurvedic alchemy received by Dr. Indunil Anuruddhika and her instructors. If I am right, what we learn will make it possible to decontaminate Lady Gaia.

On a highly personal note, I want to say that I don't see my response to this disaster as something "new" but rather a culmination of years of preparation. Like everyone else of my vintage and later, I grew up in a world that was hostage to the threat of nuclear war. In Hawaii, students were demonstrating against the testing of weapons in the South Pacific. I visited both Hiroshima and Nagasaki when living in Japan as a student (1962-62). Then, when working in Vietnam in the 60s, there were high ranking Vietnamese officials who were clamoring for a bomb to drop on Hanoi. It seemed insane that everyone wanted a bomb and a nuclear deterrent. India and Pakistan would rather invest in nukes than in solving the problems of poverty and, when we are realistic, we see that this is what the U.S. has done. We have invested so heavily in destructive forces that our social infrastructure and quality of life are crumbling.

I began researching the food and herbs suitable for recovery from exposure to radiation when I was still living in Santa Fe. Then, when I was consulting in Europe, I saw exactly what radiation looks like when it gets into the body. So, friends, it is time for me to move into a new phase of activity and I hope to do so with your blessings. Meanwhile, I assure you that I am cautious enough to make sure that the transfer of responsibilities for the herbs is done conscientiously and smoothly.

In quest of the highest good!


P.S. I have a extra geiger counter in case there is anyone interested in running experiments or performing tests.


Ingrid Naiman's Personal Web Site



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