(Re. Zaporizhia NPP: see Dec. 15’s “Was there a causal link between the Nov 28 2014 Accident at the Zaporizhye Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine and recent Radiation Spikes...” and additional posts linked from there. EXTRA FINDINGS HAVE BEEN ADDED)
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Crestone, Southern Colorado‘s San Luis Valley (USA), elevation about 8,100 feet. (Aside from the high altitude, local mountain soil and rocks contain Thorium and other radioactive minerals.)
I was cleaning up random notes laying around, scraps of paper from this past month, and decided to just type up some recent measurements with my Medcom Inspector Alert (Geiger Counter) before I toss them. The idea was: maybe some day they come in handy as a reference to gauge an incident, for which it would be essential to know the local background radiation. Because of what appeared to be high Beta (20% or bigger CPM differences between readings taken with open or closed window Dec 11-12), I ran some Radnet queries for Albequerque, New Mexico (in the extended region south of here).
Part of me was wondering -What if? would I be able to determine this independently?- about a worst case scenario meltdown somewhere (not necesarily in the Ukraine), accompanied with full-scale cover-up mechanism in full swing: media silence, DDOS attacks on alternative media sites, blog access interference, cyber attacks gallore, and so forth, all included. “Total sci-fi armageddhon! ;-)” Just a very simple inquiry: could I figure it out? (Short answer: no) Long answer…
The apparent high Beta I suspected, I saw mirrored in Radnet data, which only increased my wondering. But the the truth is: I haven’t been measuring much this past year (aka lack of baseline data for this higher elevation mineral-rich location), and those Radnet Queries are ridiculously time consuming, without a long-term graphing setting to spot abnormalities more easily. Eventually, I found very similar highs (of Beta, Gamma 3, 4 & 5) in Radnet Queries in various spots, prior to November 28, 2014, for instance (but didn’t screenshot everything, as all this takes quite some time…), so from my amateur level of understanding:
As far as a hint of evidence of an nuclear accident somewhere, NOTHING (whatsoever) can be concluded from these raw data shown below. Nothing. They are just that: raw data. DISCLAIMER.
Photo from the other day:
Some background on why this can be useful data anyhow:
I’ve come to regard Geiger Counters as ‘almost useless’ to gauge dangers from ‘radiation’, especially when it comes to food, but also when it comes to air/soil measurements, as they’re insufficient to determine the specific factors that cause elevated readings. And yet: when you know what changes can be natural, as well as to what extend a small increase in background level can correspond with an amount of fallout (deposited or in-air), then it can, possibly, at least suggest some level of danger. To get thére requires a lot of measuring to establish baselines for varying background situations: You have to know the effects of cosmic ray fluctuations on your Geiger Counter to be able to determine if the cause of an uptick can be attributed to thát natural cause. Same with effects of the weather. Dry wind can kick slightly radioactive dust up into the air, rain can clear it out, while thunderstorms often also bring down natural radioisotopes like radioBerrylium (Be7 and Be10, which are produced in the atmosphere in nuclear disintegrations initiated by cosmic radiation). (To REALLY figure it out, many lab tests would have to accompany the Geiger Counter tests. That would get extremely expensive quickly.) Anyhow, just to see if I’ll find out something, sometimes I take some fairly random measurements, just for a couple days, here and there. It adds to my ‘field experience’, so that next time a reactor spews its toxic brew into the atmosphere and the governments shift into their predictable denial and cover-up mode, I’m hoping that I’d be able to make a slightly more useful “educated guess” as to whether or not they’re probably lying.
Since I had food samples from Japan tested (See my January 2014 Lab Tests Summary of 9 samples (store-bought in Japan in November 2013: mostly nutritious kelps from Hokkaido), I know it takes radioisotope lab tests to actually gauge a radiation situation with precision. A food or soil sample that tests “very radioactive” with a Geiger Counter, may just be high in potassium (which always contains the radioactive isotope Potassium-40 as part of its make-up), which is actually healthy and cancer-preventative (See my blogpost, Cs-137 versus K-40, for more about that); and yet… a seemingly benign increase in dose rate of air can correspond with a very significant uptick in activity of dangerous manmade radioisotopes in that air. To better understand this puzzle, see my key blogpost, The Dose Deception – Why 0.20 µSv/hr (from fallout) can be far more dangerous than 2.00 µSv/hr (from cosmic rays). The inverse square law for ionizing radiation illustrated.
I pitched the gist of this issue before, way back in a blogpost in June 2011: Background Radiation DOSE & fallout deposits’ ACTIVITY… – What’s the calculation trick? in which I put dose rate data next to fallout maps and posed this question:
“So my question is: If you know the normal background dose rate, how do you calculate a reliable estimate for the activity for an elevated background measurement? For example: background radiation well off the ground right now, in Iilate Village in Fukushima Perfecture is currently 2.91 µSv/hr, which is at least 2.5 µSv/hr above what was normal before the accident. Yet deposits for Cs-137 were reported in early April to be about 3,7oo,ooo Bq/m^2 (3.7 megabecquerels per square meter) in the same area. […] Looking at these maps, I’m wondering if it possible that very slight elevations in background dose rates could actually mean quite significant soil contamination? How could you know?”
That question ought to be the key question for anyone with a Geiger Counter hoping to get an idea whether or not soil or air contamination levels warrant avoiding an area or staying indoors. It’s also interesting to look at the propaganda that was immediately broadcast all over the world about dose rates and gauging dangers of radiation, from right at the beginning of the Fukushima accident in mid-March 2011. And still…, like this one -shamelessly misleading, from Fukushima’s 3rd anniversary, March 11, 2014: The Japan Times: “Tokyo radiation less than the level in Paris”, stating:
“[…] The average radiation level in central Tokyo was 0.0339 microsievert per hour in Shinjuku Ward on March 6, data showed. That’s about the same as the day before the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami caused three reactor core meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, 220 km to the northeast.
That reading compares with 0.085 microsievert in London and 0.108 microsievert in Seoul on March 3, and 0.057 microsievert in Paris on Feb. 27, according to a compilation of world monitoring sites on the website of the Japan National Tourism Organization. Radiation levels in central Tokyo were as high as 0.809 microsieverts per hour on March 15, 2011, before declining to 0.0489 microsievert by the morning of March 18. […]”
See, 0.8 µSv/hr is what my most nutritious kelp (bought near Iwaki, Fukushima) tested when I laid my Geiger Counter on the package. At the time thát freaked me out and I thought it was due to Fukushima contamination. (Who knew kelp can contain over 5,000 Bq/kg of natural K-40?!) I learned that doses can’t be compared like that. And, just as striking, but in that case with grave long-term health consequences for many who were heavily exposed to the radioactive particles: that radioactively contaminated air blowing through Tokyo, @ “0.809 microsieverts per hour on March 15, 2011″, and decreasing back to about-normal since, left soil contamination hotspots in the Tokyo region that in some cases exceed the Chernobyl 1986 mandatory evacuation level of 550,000 Bq/m^2 of Cs-137/134! In other words: when radiation goes up just a few times, don’t get fooled by comparisons to other dose rates that belittle its danger (bananas, air plane flights,…), ’cause it simply doesn’t work that way. In The Dose Deception I already explained why it doesn’t. Anyhow, that as background for why I bother collecting such data.
- Location: Angel Creek Campground, near Wells, Nevada – Campsite #9, Elevation 6600 ft., October 28, 2014: 55,000 counts in 1009 minutes (24:00 – 7:11 = 16h49min) => 54.4 CPM
- Location: On the slopes of Deseret Peak Wilderness, Toelle Valley, Utah – Inside my car, dashboard, parked , Elevation: about 5400 ft, Oct. 29 till Oct. 30, 2014 noon: 58720 counts in 1221 minutes (20h21min) => 48.09 CPM
- Farmington, Utah (North of Salt Lake City), Elevation 4300 ft, Nov. 4 -5, 2014, 59300 counts in 24 hours => 41.18 CPM
Some data points along a drive from Northern Utah to Southern Colorado:
- Aspen, Colorado (overnight 11hrs, elevation: 7,890 ft (2,405 m)) + 30 minutes Nov. 8, 2014 driving higher to Independence Pass: 41910 counts => 56.71 CPM (Note: Aspen itself was likely closer to 55 CPM)
- Independence Pass, Colorado, Elevation 12,095 feet (3,687 m), early afternoon Nov. 8, 2014: 3050 counts in 36 minutes => 84.72 CPM
- Twin Lakes, Colorado, inside car near shoreline by Hwy 82, Elevation 9200 ft, Nov. 8, 2014: 2430 in 40 minutes: 60.7 CPM
- Dec. 4, 2014: 8pm till Dec. 5 @ 8am – Indoors by closed window: 47100 counts in 12 hours => 65.42 CPM
- Dec. 4- 5, 2014: 8pm to 8pm: Indoors by closed window: 92560 counts in 24 hrs => 64.28 CPM (The last six hours of which averaged at 65 CPM)
- Dec. 6 – 7, Indoors by closed window: 92440 counts in 24 hrs => 64.19 CPM
- Dec. 7 – 8, Indoors by closed window: 88680 in 24 hrs => 61.58 CPM
- Dec. 8 – 9, Indoors by closed window: 91640 in 24 hrs => 63.64 CPM
- December 10, noon ? (note is unclear): 87730 in 23 hours => 65.16 CPM
–> Week average of CPM daily averages, early Dec. 2014: 63.8 CPM
=> roughly 64 CPM (@ 8100 ft elevation)
- Dec. 10, 2014: 24:00 – 2:37 = 82550 counts => 64.34 CPM
Opened the door for the last 2.37 minutes = 11080 counts => 70.57 CPM
Last 50 minutes (of 24:00) with window open: 3630 counts => 72.6 CPM
5 minute walk outside => 74 CPM
- Dec 11, 2014
22 hours with window & door back closed: 82260 counts => 62.32
2 hours with window open (91320 counts in 24 hrs, deduct 22 hrs) => 75.5 CPM
Closed the window, started new Timer cycle: 14 minutes in: 997 counts => 71.21 CPM
Decrease in CPM continues and quickly returns to normal closed-window readings: Dec 12, 12:30 pm: 24:00 – 13:04 @ 42180 => 64.29 CPM
24:00 – 3:30 @ 79840 => 64.91 CPM
24:00 – 53 min @ 90160 = 65 CPM
Last 52 minutes: put the Medcom on the tile floor, indoors: + 5900 counts => 113.46 CPM
- Dec. 12, 2014: @ 21:20 = 10320 counts by closed window => 64.50 CPM
- 56 minutes in empty bathtub: + 4380 counts => 78 CPM
- 5:17 pm, start over @ 24:00 countdown start: 0
- Dec. 13, 2014: 11:50 am @ “5:25”: 70590 counts by closed window => 63.3 CPM
- On the sandy soil in driveway: 48 minutes => 131 CPM
- back by window, 1 hr => 61.33 CPM
- 45 minutes on the tile indoor floor, different spot: 122 CPM
- Sunday Dec. 14, 2014: 3 inches of fresh snow outside:
- inside by closed window: 5804 counts in 87 minutes => 66.7 CPM
- open window for 29 minutes => 70 CPM
- Note: Post-snow indoor-outdoor difference is less than 5%, rather than over 20 % pre-precipitation.
- Dec. 16, 2014 after 24 hrs: 115200 on table => 80 CPM
- Dec 17 after 10 hrs on indoor tile floor inside closet: 97280 counts => 162 CPM
- After a hair cut: Medcom laying on my pile of hair: 13210 counts in 144 minutes => 91.7 CPM (probably Potassium-40 content)
- Off hair, same table top, 4hrs30 min => 65.26 CPM (normal indoor)
- 122 min on Crestone Gneiss composite rock: 90.4 CPM ; 41 min. on flat side of rock: 93 CPM
- On E-mergency package (contains 200 mg Potassium per package): 58 min. @=> 150.7 CPM After 598 minutes on E-Mergency: 60950 counts => 102 CPM
Voila, now I can get rid of this pile of scraps. ;-)
The difference between indoor/outdoor had me check one of the nearest similar-weather Beta monitors on the EPA Radnet network, which showed elevated Beta in the air in Albequerque, New Mexico as well, during the same the time my own measurements hinted of this.
Beta doesn’t penetrate thick glass, so simply opening the window will add the additional Beta from the dust in the air outside to the count.
My query (Dec 5-15, 2014, Beta), run through the US EPA Radnet (https://cdxnode64.epa.gov/radnet-public/query.do, one of the USA links on my page Online Radiation Monitors), shown here graphed (scatter plot):
To see if it wasn’t just BETA being elevated, but Gamma as well, I ran the same for all Gamma energy levels, which looks a bit messy when graphed:
So I picked just Beta + Gamma 4 (random choice):
In order to see if this is unusual I checked a 2 week period in March 2014:
And then the same 2 week period, but in March 2011, when Fukushima radioisotopes were passing over the US:
That’s just seemed a little weird…
- In late March 2011, max Beta @ 150 counts, max Gamma 4 just below 650 (these can’t be CPMs a la my Geiger Counter, not sure how they quantify, but as-is for the same location they should be roughly comparable at least. …I think.);
- In March 2014, max Beta @ 400 counts, max Gamma 4 just below 800
- And just this December 2014, same location, Max Beta @ 850 counts, and max Gamma 4 just below 1,050.
Fairly random sampling, but still… Why are the radiation levels measuring so high this month?
I went looking for more insights and came across this article from Nuke Pro: http://nukeprofessional.blogspot.com/2013/11/cpm-of-gamma-in-energy-range-600-800kev.html, in which the EPA said that I-131 would show best in the Gamma energy ranges 3, and Cs-137’s decay in the Gamma-5 energy range. Further noting (US EPA:), “[…] Regardless of its low spectral resolution, the real-time RadNet graph may potentially have its uses for the identification of a radiological incident. An increase above the average counts per minute (CPM) measured in ranges 3 and 5 beyond three standard errors of the mean can be considered statistically significant with 95 percent confidence. Mean count rates measured in the past can be queried in the RadNet database. […]”
So I ran the Albequerque, NM data again, this time for a clean first 2 weeks of December 2014 (Dec. 1-14, 2014), for Beta, Gamma-3 & Gamma-5: There are clearly significant upticks on all these, esp. Dec 10th and the 13th.
And since then, (Dec. 15-29, 2014) as well:
By the way, just saying: NOTICE: I am NOT claiming this shows evidence of any particular radioisotope, just running queries.
And for Dec. 10 – 20, to see mid-December, w/ the Dec. 17 ‘bump’, more clearly (very similar to the above one from early today Dec. 29):
- A peek at cosmic rays data (from University of Oulu – Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory) shows that Dec 17 saw more cosmic rays than the rest of the month, but Dec.29 doesn’t show anything like that…:
ANd how would that affect Beta levels, though? Hmm… So much to learn…
What to make of my data and those RadNet graphs?
After these few years of trying to better understand all this… I still have no freak’n clue if anything of significance can be derived from this sort of data. So my answer is simple: I don’t have the expertise to make anything of this. Nada. Nothing.
For now it is what it is: Just data. No interpretations. Expert input welcome.
For closing, here’s another photo from the other night, @ sunset: