Radiation Detection


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I am probably going to have mud on my face in a few moments, but I will take that risk and wait for the deluge of criticisms.

After the Fukushima disaster, a little team formed. I have not introduced everyone but in time, I will. So far, I think you only know Dr. Hiranuma through the Japanese version of (which for the record is completely different from the English site.) Our third member was going to take radiation measurements but laying our hands on a device has been an exercise in patience. The first of several devices ordered came today and I got to play with it for a few minutes before he made off with it.

Thanks to youtube, here is what I managed by way of preparation. I ordered some stones that fluoresce and some green beads that look like radium dials on clocks. The beads really get the detector chirping. In short, it works.

Basically, the inside of the house is quieter than outside. Just so you are all as clear possible, this was to be expected and is the reason people near Fukushima were advised to stay indoors. However, with the EMF fields, the inside is way hotter than outside. Let's see if I can make this clear: nuclear radiation is atmospheric and is worse outdoors than inside. Non-ionizing radiation is more associated with your household wiring and gadgets and is therefore worse indoors.

Onward! In general, it seems the geiger counter chirps more as it gets closer to the ground. The major exceptions were plants that did not lose their leaves, like the rhododendrons. If you are not familiar with these, the top is almost like an umbrella and the ones in my front yard are about as high as the middle of my chest so it's an easy reach to see what happens. The device chirped more on top and less underneath because the leaves got more fallout. Well, that is my preliminary conclusion. On things that have new leaves, there is a tiny bit of good news and that is the readings are a bit lower, suggesting that the bulk of the fallout hit before the new leaves appeared. Interestingly, one of the slowest to leaf out has been the ginkgo, which, of course, is famous for its relationship to radiation. It seems to have spared itself exposure, just fascinating to me. It is just now sporting leaves and only a few. On the other hands, the burdock has absolutely enormous leaves but it is the roots that will be harvested so the leaves are protecting the ground underneath. I am simply in awe of Nature. I love Her and feel so blessed to be able to observe these fine points.


The geiger counter was 100% silent in the greenhouse. Hear ye, hear ye! Guess where the leafy greens and oka hijiki are growing!

So, this started to become more and more intriguing. I tested the tourmaline, remember the hair-brained experiment. Just like granite, there were subtle hot spots on the stones so turning and turning and turning them elicited a few chirps but the water in which they had been sitting since the day I hemorrhaged (April 19th) was ever so slightly radioactive. The selenite which is used to clean tourmaline did not set off the detector. I am probably going too fast. I have been thinking about these experiments for two months so they mean something now that the detector is finally in our hands (well, Carl has it.)

Next, I checked the spinach I bought at the farmer's market on Saturday. As I turned the bag around and around there was in fact one hot spot, very loud. Are you listening? You need to be thinking about the food you can grow. So, animal lover than I am, I checked the bird seed, but the detector was 100% silent. This is actually to be expected because the seeds would have been from last year's harvest.

I don't want to go on and on. These are very preliminary readings with an incredibly simple device, am analog geiger counter, not a dosimeter. I got it on eBay for more than the list price but the manufacturer is back ordered so there are many sellers on eBay exploiting the spread between demand and supply. I think this is called capitalism?

Quite a few people have written asking advice on detectors and while clearly not an expert, a few points might make the picture come into focus. If you live in Japan, especially near the reactors, your primary concern is cumulative exposure. The fluctuations from one room to another or one plant to another are secondary in importance to biological thresholds. For such purposes, people need dosimeters that are capable of measuring potentially quite high levels. Normal dosimeters are not designed for nuclear disasters, but for working in proximity to radioactive materials. Their accuracy fails when the exposure is "off the scale" but to track cumulative exposure, many in Japan are leaving the dosimeters on 24/7. Some of these devices have computer tracking software, but they are mainly intended for use by a single individual. The bottom line is that except for people with high risk levels, dosimeters are not necessary.

For others, geiger counters are more revealing. These come with varying degrees of sophistication. Some only measure x-rays and gamma rays, some measure those plus beta radiation. Only a few are capable of detecting alpha particles. What is important about this is that some detectors will not be as reliable as others. For instance, most of the initial concern was with radioactive iodine. Iodine-131 emits 90% beta radiation and 10% gamma rays. Cesium is, however, even more of a beta emitter whereas the plutonium in the MOX fuel reactor (#3) is mainly an alpha emitter. Strontium-90 is nearly a pure beta emitter. Keep in mind, this is what was found in Moscow so if it could travel that far, it could be elsewhere also. Uranium is an alpha emitter with a very slow rate of decay so the type of device needed for detecting it must be designed with this in mind. Practically nothing that is presently somewhat available to the general public can measure alpha particles. The Gamma Scout used in some of bionerd23's videos is back ordered for months.

I am taking a bit of risk in posting this but I know some of you have been waiting months so even if this tiny report is based on only a few minutes use of a tiny geiger counter, it might be enough to encourage you to grow at least your own salad and leafy green vegetables under some sort of cover. The oka hijiki seemed to resonate with some readers so I have an encore planned but it might take a few days to find the interludes to present this material.

Personally, I don't think it is realistic to expect that the food industry will police itself nor is it reasonable that everyone brings a geiger counter to the grocery store. It does however make sense to assume that there is some fallout and that some of the fallout might be quite dangerous. You are therefore well advised to think through what will make you and those you love as safe as possible.

Many blessings,



Ingrid Naiman's Personal Web Site



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