(March 3, 2015) — In shuttle bus, Boulder to DIA, 37 minute average: 48.7 CPM
(For some recent Colorado photos of mine, go to ‘Winter Camping in the Sand Dunes‘.)
In this blog post: Some Geiger Counter radiation data gathered on a recent airplane trip from the USA to Europe.
Last time that I took a Geiger with me on board was on my way to Japan in early November 2013 (See Nov. 15, 2013, Trans-Pacific Flight (Seattle-Tokyo), with radiation data (photos)), but I didn’t log enough data then to detect abnormalities, if there were any. I have a bit more data now (see below).
!-> A recommended great video on the same topic of taking Geiger Counter measurements on planes is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwYs0Ue4SbI (Anti-Proton has some other great educational videos. In this one, Tom of http://anti-proton.com/ clearly stated, (Uploaded July 14, 2012) “[…] And I have to make an important NOTE: These higher readings have nothing to do with Fukushima. […] Make sure everyone knows that before I start hearing the whole jet stream argument about the altitude, and so on… It’s like that since before Fukushima.”). That is exactly how I always understood this too, but… two reasons I did some tests:
– It was ENEnews‘ commenter Stock‘s (NukeProfessional, Nov. 23, 2014) blog post, “Massive Radiation Found in the Upper Atmosphere“, in which he relayed his findings and conclusion that by (allegedly) using his body to block 50% of the (alleged) Beta radiation part of the total Geiger Counter-measured radioactivity, he noticed a significant difference between this and without body blocking: 11 CPS compared to 15 CPS (roughly 660 CPM versus 900 CPM, or a 36% difference). I thought it would be interesting to see if I could independently confirm this. In his blog post, among other relevant data, he shared 2 videos with his evidence, which could easily be duplicated to see if I would find the same, and if would come to the same conclusion.
!-> Feel free to check out the collected data below, and do it yourself when you get the chance, but I can summarize my findings in this regard already: I noticed a significant difference between how I held my Geiger C0unter, with measuring 20 to 30% more in the horizontal position, compared to the vertical position. In Stock’s videos, Beta-blocking-by-body-shielding is in vertical position on his stomach/torso, while his non-blocking measuring position appears to be horizontal on the seat next to his. Using thóse specific settings, I get the exact same effect, but my conclusion is that this has nothing to do with Beta radiation being blocked, but everything with Cosmic radiation (Gamma and X Rays), of which more (coming in vertically from outer space) would naturally hit the pancake Geiger Counter tube in the horizontal position.
Stock wrote, “Since I was blocking 50% of the Beta with the flesh of my leg (or stomach as shown in the video), this means there is 2 times 4 CPS beta in the aircraft.” Well, just reporting my own observations here: I was able to duplicate the data with “my stomach” (vertical position!) but not with my leg (on my lap, in horizontal position). I got the same results by holding the Geiger counter in these positions in mid-air, not touching any surfaces. At higher altitude, flying through the jet stream, holding my techy toy against my body or freely in the air seemed to not make a significant difference IF the sensor positioning was the same. The angel from level, of the pancake tube sensor, appears to be the dominant factor affecting measurement differences at the same altitude.
Because I was already quite tired on this second (overnight) leg of my journey, I was more interested in the movies than radiation data gathering. [“So sorry…” Still human. ;-) ] (In any case, I really ought to learn to log this directly onto my computer, but anyhow…) I intend to do more related testing on my way back, though.
So… anyhow, it is what it is. I’ll see if I find anything else, but for now I’ve turned ‘totally skeptical’ of the conclusion that the elevated measurement was mainly due to Beta radiation in the air (In Stock’s own words: “480 CPM Beta inside the air of the airplane. I see. This Beta, to repeat, is not Cosmic. Fukushima is here.”] I’m not so sure of all that now. (Or to be more blunt: In the best case, the conclusion was simply drawn prematurely and is INCORRECT. Having done that myself (drawing a wrong conclusion (before having the needed lab data) about the cause of radioactivity of apparently quite radioactive seaweeds for sale in Japan…), I can only hope he’ll do more tests and update his blog readers when he finds out more too. His conclusion that the upper atmosphere is “full of Fukushima radiation” is not something I have been able to scientifically verify for myself yet. Of course this doesn’t per se mean that there is no elevated Beta (or other) radiation due to Fukushima fallout at higher altitude. Actually, I have seen plenty of data that has given me a strong impression that this is the case, but it may just NOT be of the astronomical magnitude alleged.
In that vein: My interest was also to see if I could actually detect ANY abnormal-seeming elevated radioactivity inside the jet stream as compared to outside the jet stream, preferably at a similar altitude ánd latitude. (Radiation increases with altitude due to Cosmic rays, and the Earth’s magnetosphere, which shields us from most of this DNA-harmful space menace at ground level, bends in such a way that much higher Cosmic radiation levels are reached at lower elevations closer to the magnetic poles. See also, “NASA: Thousand-fold Rise in Polar Flights Hikes Radiation Risk“) Those who have followed my blog in the past few months are undoubtedly not surprised that part of my interest stems from having noticed upticks in ground-level radiation along the jet stream path, directly downwind from the ongoing Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear disaster site in the past few months, in North America, Europe, and even in Japan after blowing around the globe. Some of these upticks, such as in mid-November over Germany and surroundings, were quite pronounced (relatively speaking, still tiny as far as external dose rate upticks). And these upticks, which appear to continue in similar fashion, on and off, and which also still continue to rather often correlate with being precisely downwind from Fukushima, could distinctly NOT be traced back to the radioactive cloud that escaped the Zaporizhia, Ukraine nuclear facility at the end of November 2014 (and possibly at the end of December 2014, but I did not investigate the second alleged cover-up of that alleged fallout release as vigorously). I found the upticks downwind striking, so I have been paying closer attention to them. These measurements were part of ‘just checking’ if I find out anything more.
Now, since I learned that in the thick of the Chernobyl cloud (as measured downwind over Finland shortly after the nuclear accident in the Ukraine began) in April 1986, the dose rate was only 0.8 µSv/hr, and many of the recent ground level upticks I’ve seen on monitors are +0.4 µSv/hr or much less (often less than +0.1 µSv/hr)… and that very high-up, at intercontinental cruising altitude, background radiation is already somewhere between 2.0 and 4.0 µSv/hr (or even over 7.0+ µSv/hr if you go over the North Pole), with quite the fluctuation range minute to minute, that to pick up an artificial ‘signal’ in the data is already unlikely without taking additional air filter samples, BUT… so I figured, “I’m on a plane, with a Geiger Counter, it doesn’t hurt to check and see if I can detect anything unusual.”
!-> The main problem with my investigation intention here, so it turned out, was that we stayed inside the jet stream pretty much the entire flight… (Understandably, the airline saves on fuel that way…)
So, for 1) around the same Latitude and 2) at the same altitude, I do not have even 2 data points with ‘inside’ and ‘outside of’ the jet stream. Thus, basically, I have nothing to scientifically compare as far as that is concerned. Bummer.
Perhaps, on the way back, when avoiding the jet stream is more helpful for the plane to save on fuel, I may get a few comparable data points. I’ll find out. As for now my data is just data, with only very limited conclusions to be drawn.
This blog post is another ridiculously long one, because, although far from all gathered, I include tons of data, just for the record. Here and there there’s more comments as well.
!!-> For a brief overview of other, perhaps more interesting, recent nuclear blog post highlights, see the previous one, (March 1, 2015) “Some Recent Nuclear Blog Posts (March 1, 2015 overview), Blog Stats, Radiation Findings, Fukushima News Links,…“.
– Space-Time: Commercial flights from Denver to Atlanta to Amsterdam, March 3-4, 2015.
– Geiger Counter Used: (Bought in 2013) pancake-sensor-equipped MEDCOM Inspector Alert; See my (2011, outdated) Geiger Counter List for some links if you consider buying one of these things.
- 13:05 = 1:05 pm ; Mountain Time = UTC – 7 (World Time Zones)
- CPM = Counts Per Minute
- µSv/hr = microSievert per hour !–> See Radiation Units & Conversions for more.
– Mindset: Just curious. I am as allergic to fear-mongering as I am to downplaying real fallout dangers. My ultimate allegiance is to truth. I could be wrong about absolutely any conclusion I’ve ever drawn. Read my Disclaimer. I’m sharing with the intention that perhaps it could help in the big picture, as well as encourage more independent data gathering.
– Elevation (as shown on the little screen in front of my chair) corresponds with altitude at end of an averaging time period.
PART 1: DEN –> ATL
Denver International Airport (DEN), Colorado, USA – Elevation 5,431 ft / 1,655 m – Gamma+Beta total fluctuating roughly around 0.145 µSv/hr; March 3, 2015, 13:05 Mountain Time.
In DIA, waiting in security line, 18 min. avg.: 51.0 CPM
11 minutes, during which my bag, with Geiger Counter on, went through scanner: 17,800 Counts (most of this dose was likely delivered in 1 minute);
On runway, held horizontally on lap, 14 min. avg.: 49.1 CPM;
Off-lap, (angled more vertically) in air, 11 min. avg.: 47.0 CPM
[-> I’m speculating that this extra +2.1 CPM at ground level is primarily due to our body’s Potassium-40 + Carbon-14’s presence. See http://hps.org/publicinformation/ate/faqs/faqradbods.html for more on all that. But I will do some extra testing to confirm at some point this month.
!–> Related, see also my blog posts, (Jan. 2014) “Why 150 Bq Cs-137 is health-hazardous, while 150 Bq* K-40 is RECOMMENDED for health” and, (Nov. 2013) “The Dose Deception – Why 0.20 µSv/hr (from fallout) can be far more dangerous than 2.00 µSv/hr (from cosmic rays). Higher up, such a small dose rate difference gets lost in the overwhelming cosmic radiation (“statistical noise”). ]
Switched to Timer Mode (24h:00min count-down);
Delays… as the plane gets de-ice-ed before take-off. Snowing very lightly…
At 13:06, inside plane on runway, first minute: 44.0 CPM
(Take-off + 1 minute =) 13:07 (1 minute average): 56.0 CPM
13:11 (3 min. avg.): 51.7 CPM
[In Southern Colorado, at 8,000 to 8,200 ft., I usually get about 60-65 CPM)
@ 11,451 ft. => 13:12 (1 min. avg.): 105 CPM
@ 13,451 ft. => 13:13 (1 min. avg.): 128 CPM
13:14 (1 min avg.): 360 CPM
@ 22,000 ft. => 13:17 ( 3 min. avg.): 610 CPM
@ 29,540 ft. => 13:22 (5 min. avg.): 393.6 CPM
13:23 (1 min. avg.): 567 CPM
@ 34,979 ft. => 13:27 (4 min. avg.): 747.8 CPM
@ 34,975 ft. => 13:28 (1 min. avg.): 819 CPM
@ 36,981 ft. = 213 miles from DIA => about 2.5 µSv/hr (fluctuating between 2.47 and 2.81 µSv/hr)
…Watched part of the dystopian sci-fi movie, ‘Children of men‘… ;-)
High up, I took a couple short videos (bad quality), which documented more of what I had already noticed on the runway: 20 to 30 % difference between vertical and horizontal, no significant difference with on my body or not.
– At almost 39,000 ft. above Kansas, vertical dose rate measured fluctuating between 2.4 and 3.0 µSv/hr, while horizontal dose rate measured fluctuating 2.9 and 3.7 µSv/hr; (In that case, the difference between the average of those extremes: 22.2 %). I repeated this many times. It is véry easy to confirm yourself if you take a plane with a Geiger Counter.
15:15 MT, pancake tube is held horizontally, (start @ 38,971 ft.; stop @ 38,965 ft.), (10 min. avg.): 109.9 CPM
(start @ 38,965 ft.; stop @ 38,964 ft.), (10 min. avg.): 106.9 CPM
(20 min. avg of two above 10 minutes): 108.4 CPM.
On lap, again horizontally, a quick 2 min avg.: 103 CPM ;
15:25 MT, pancake tube is held up vertically, (10 min. avg.): 89.5 CPM (started @ 38,964 ft.; stop @ 37,891 ft.); Difference between horizontal and vertical: 13%. Maybe more, but “28 minutes from destination”; descend has suddenly begun…
@ 33,080 ft., 1.7 µSv/hr vertical position, 2.3 µSv/hr horizontal position (26% diff.)
@ 27,500 ft., horizontal position, 1.2 µSv/hr
@ 25,000 ft., horizontal position, 0.9 µSv/hr
@ 23,000 ft., horizontal position, 0.7 µSv/hr
@ between 23,000 and 22,000, horizontal position, upticks up to 0.8 µSv/hr [On the way up, I noticed what appeared like an uptick around 22,000 feet altitude as well. Might gather more minute-by-minute CPM data next time.]
@ 21,700 ft., horizontal position, 0.6 µSv/hr
@ 20,000 ft., 0.5 µSv/hr
Stowed it away.
PART 2: ATL -> AMS
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Georgia, USA – Elevation 1,026 ft / 313 m – Gamma+Beta total fluctuating roughly around 0.119 µSv/hr; fluctuation as low as 0.101 µSv/hr and as high as 0.173 µSv/hr during a few minutes of watching it.
Inside ATL airport, 75 minutes, including the few minutes that the bag, with Geiger Counter, passed going through (a more powerful, apparently) security scanner: 41,520 counts. (Forgotten about it.); Bummer, due to the delays, my next plane, to Brussels, Belgium, has departed. I get to fly to Amsterdam instead. I don’t care how I get there, as long as I get there safely and timely.
It’s lightly foggy outside.
More delays… 64 minutes inside plane before take-off, averaging 32.4 CPM;
And another 22 min., avg. @ 33.1 CPM
Note: Because the plane rises very quickly, and it takes a Geiger Counter a few moments to process data and display a closest-to-correct value, the Geiger Counter readings at the given altitudes are an underestimation during ascend, and an overestimating during descend. Once at a stable altitude, they are more reliable. So I don’t know if this is useful to anyone, but I thought I’d share the data I gathered during this flight as well:
Take-off = count-down @ 24:00 (“24:00 CD”);
(Evening March 3, 2015, leaving Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
In air: 2162 ft., 23:59 CD @ 28 => 28 CPM
2968 ft., 23:58 CD @ 53 => (1 min. avg.): 25 CPM
5210 ft., 23:57 CD @ 79 => (1 min. avg.): 26 CPM
7866 ft., 23:56 CD @ 111 => (1 min. avg.): 32 CPM
10282 ft., 23:55 CD @ 164 => (1 min. avg.): 53 CPM
10145 ft., 23:54 CD @ 218 => (1 min avg.): 54 CPM
13,053 ft., 23:53 CD @ 285 => (1 min. avg.): 67 CPM
14,895 ft., 23:52 CD @ 372 => (1 min. avg.): 87 CPM
16,835 ft., 23:51 CD @ 476 => (1 min. avg.): 104 CPM
17,849 ft., 23:50 CD @ 584 => (1 min. avg.): 108 CPM
19,504 ft., 23:49 CD @ 770 => (1 min. avg.): 186 CPM
20,943 ft., 23:48 CD @ 935 => (1 min. avg.): 165 CPM
22,615 ft., 23:47 CD @ 1136 => (1 min. avg.): 201 CPM
23,659 ft., 23:46 CD @ 1416 => (1 min. avg.): 280 CPM
24,644 ft., 23:45 CD @ 1684 => (1 min. avg.): 268 CPM
25,898 ft., 23:44 CD @ 2014 => (1 min. avg.): 330 CPM
26,990 ft., 23:43 CD @ 2403 => (1 min. avg.): 389 CPM
27,523 ft., 23:42 CD @ 2833 => (1 min. avg.): 430 CPM
28,441 ft., 23:41 CD @ 3280 => (1 min. avg.): 447 CPM
29,149 ft., 23:40 CD @ 3788 => (1 min. avg.): 508 CPM
30,074 ft., 23:39 CD @ 4289 => (1 min. avg.): 501 CPM
30,817 ft., 23:38 CD @ 4825 => (1 min. avg.): 536 CPM
31,782 ft., 23:37 CD @ 5412 => (1 min. avg.): 587 CPM
32,657 ft., 23:36 CD @ 6051 => (1 min. avg.): 639 CPM
33,538 ft., 23:35 CD @ 6734 => (1 min. avg.): 683 CPM
34,322 ft., 23:34 CD @ 7433 => (1 min. avg.): 699 CPM
34,840 ft., 23:33 CD @ 8175 => (1 min. avg.): 742 CPM
35,069 f., 23:32 CD @ 8976 => (1 min. avg.): 801 CPM
35,065 ft., 23:31 CD @ 9700 => (1 min. avg.): 724 CPM
35, 060 ft., 23:30 CD @ 10450 => (1 min. avg.): 750 CPM
35,061 ft., 23:29 CD @ 11220 => (1 min. avg.): 770 CPM
35,061 ft., 23:28 CD @ 12140 => (1 min. avg.): 920 CPM
35,065 ft., 23:27 CD @ 12810 => (1 min. avg.): 670 CPM
35, 064 ft., 23:26 CD @ 13560 => (1 min. avg.): 750 CPM
35,064 ft., 23:25 CD @ 14480 => (1 min. avg.): 920 CPM
It appears a cruising altitude has been reached, with elevation not fluctuating more than a few meters at most. The following data was taken at an altitude closely fluctuating around 35,063 ft. (= 10.687 meter).
23:00 CD @ 36,000 counts => (25 min. avg.): 860.8 CPM
22:52 CD @ 42710 => (8 min. avg.): 838.8 CPM
22:51 CD @ 43,530 => (1 min. avg.): 820 CPM
22:50 CD @ 44,380 => (1 min. avg.): 850 CPM
At this point, flying over the US East Coast at 35,063 ft, the dose rate is a steady 850 CPM average (horizontal), with the dose rate in microsievert fluctuating, down to 2.567 µSv/hr and up to 2.651 µSv/hr, within a few minutes of watching the measurements dance around. At this point along the flight route, I was “299 miles from Atlanta and 4098 miles from Amsterdam“. Tailwind was 103 mph (164 km/hr); Outside Temperature was -51 F (-60 C). I got bored with note taking…
I watched the movie ‘Interstellar’, which, unlike ‘Children of Men’, kept my attention. Not bad, but probably better on a big screen.
Re-set the Count-down clock to 24:00 The little screen said we were 6 hours and 21 minutes from our destination, still flying over the US East Coast. Altitude unchanged (35,063 ft), but radiation is slightly higher, which is only to be expected by heading further North.
Start over: 24:00 CD @ 00.0 CPM
23:59 CD @ 947 CPM
23:57 CD @ 2762 => (2 min. avg.): 907.5 CPM
23:56 CD @ 3718 => (1 min. avg.): 956 CPM
23:55 CD @ 4578 => (1 min. avg.): 860 CPM
23:50 CD @ 8993 => (5 min. avg.): 883 CPM
23:30 CD @ 26610 => (20 min. avg.): 880.9 CPM
23:25 CD @ 31,150 => (5 min. avg.): 908 CPM [2.6 µSv/hr]
23:12 CD @ 2.5 µSv/hr, altitude still 35,064 ft.; Tailwind 153 mph; Location 67˚26’30″W, Lat 44˚14’12”, which is just off the coast of Maine:
23:10 CD @ 45,100 => (15 min avg.): 930 CPM [2.7 µSv/hr]
23:08 CD @ 46,960 => (2 min avg.): 930 CPM
23:07 CD @ 2.663 µSv/hr <Then turned it off by accident.>, 35,063 ft. alt.
start over: 24:00 CD = 0.0 CPM
23:59 CD @ 889 CPM [2.747 µSv/hr]
23:44 CD @ 15330 => (15 min. avg.): 962.7 CPM , 35,062 ft. alt., 158 mph tailwind, over Nova Scotia
23:41 CD @ 17,020 => (3 min. avg.): 563 CPM
23:40 CD @ 17920 => (1 min. avg.): 900 CPM
[ 2.689 µSv/hr … 2.831 µSv/hr … 2.741 µSv/hr …]
23:31 CD @ 26,180 => (9 min. avg.): 917.8 CPM
23:30 CD @ 27,010 => (1 min. avg.): 830 CPM
23:29 CD @ => 27,858 (1 min. avg.): 848 CPM
23:10 CD @ => 44,870 (19 min. avg.): 895.3 CPM
23:09 CD @ => 45,820 (1 min. avg.): 950 CPM
[ 2.783 µSv/hr; 35,055 ft. alt., 56˚33’11”, 48˚16’12”, 139 mph tailwind]
So, clearly, more north, the average is higher (more around 900 CPM, instead of 850 CPM seen in the first few hours of this flight high up over the US East Coast), and it seems to fluctuate a bit more as well, minute by minute.
Somewhere over the Northern Atlantic Ocean, I distracted myself again from this (somewhat boring, if I may say so) data gathering with the movie, ‘The Mockingjay – Part 1’. You can get the Hanging Tree Song stuck in your head for the rest of this blog post… ;-) Awesome movie. Of the three, I liked this one the best. Did another horizontal-versus-vertical test:
33,068 ft. Geiger counter in horizontal position, not resting on anything, held in air, 10 minutes: 7954 counts => 795.4 CPM
33,068 ft. Geiger counter in vertical position, not resting on anything, held in air, 10 minutes: 6116 counts => 611.6 CPM
–> Again, striking: a 23% difference depending on how the Geiger Counter is held.
Somewhere over the Atlantic, I switched to taking photos of the Flight Tracker screen, combined or alternating with photographing my Geiger Counter, and took some video with my mini-iPod, instead of taking notes. I figured I’d process the data later. A mistake in hindsight: on a plane, I have all the time in the world; once off the plane, I’m not particularly inclined to spend hours watching photos and videos and convert them into more processable data. In my sleep-deprived stupor, I took a couple hundred data point photos… and exhausted the iPod battery with over an hour of video-recording. Please forgive my disinterest in displaying this. Too much work. I glanced over it all and it didn’t reveal anything extra. The gist is simple: I found only further confirmation of a significant (20-30%) difference between vertical and horizontal position of the pancake-tube of the Geiger Counter, and, again, I was unable to confirm alleged ‘body-blocking of high Beta in airplane air’.
Conclusion: The doses (up to 15 CPS or 900 CPM) for gamma + beta radiation at the documented altitudes and latitudes fit with what is long known to be known radiation levels, and are also not different for flying over the Pacific versus flying over the Atlantic. There’s major difference between holding a pancake tube Geiger Counter upright or horizontal (I suppose this may technically be called the Azimuth angle). I found no evidence of the alleged Beta-blocking through body-shielding as way to gauge Beta in air. Thus, all three of Stock’s Nov. 2014 allegations, that the radiation levels are unusual for the measured location, “Much more so than 20 years ago” (an allegation he did not back up with evidence), ánd due to Beta-radiation emitting particles in the airplane’s air, ánd that all that is due to Fukushima… are, as far as my own observations go, proven false. Perhaps luckily, but certainly unintentionally, the only real conclusion I have is that NukePro’s allegations did not stand the test of my independent verification attempt. I’ll leave it at that for now.
On the descend, the first dip below 1.0 µSv/hr occurred just above 25,000 ft., close to the English coast on the descend towards Amsterdam:
Lessons for next time:
- Take non-stop minute-by-minute CPM notes again [I do this by using Timer count-down mode and the moment the minute rolls over, I switch it to display the counts, and write the first new count total I see down, then I switch it back to the countdown timer and use the remaining part of the minute to note the rest]; with altitudes noted, from take-off till stable altitude, with moment glimpses of the µSv/hr dose rate if time allows, on ascend and descend, each for about 40 minutes, if possible.
- (Or, better: learn how to log and graph it onto my laptop… Anyhow…)
- While at the same altitude, take several 10 minute averages in both horizontal and vertical sensor positions, and both in beta-blocked and open-air (Beta-window exposed to air). Photograph the specific set-ups. (Total time needed for this: about an hour and a half)
- Gather various 1-, 5- or 10-minute CPM averages with approximate dose µSv/hr fluctuation range, noting altitude and coordinates at each start and stop of an averaging period. (Whenever I feel like it it. The more the better, but I know how it often goes…).
Read my DISCLAIMER + Comment / Share Policy first if you decide to comment or so, please.
Woohoo, I’m in Belgium. ;-)
Land of chocolate, beer,… and cracked nuclear reactors…
Extra stof tot nadenken (als je Nederlands verstaat toch), zie ook http://zaplog.nl/zaplog/article/de_kauwgomballenboom_van_fukushima.
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[Last edited: March 11, 2015]