Introduction: This is intended to be the shorter and clearer overview of what I posted the other day @ July 30, 2015, “Mainland USA June 14 2015 Radioactive Rain & Lichen Data Revisited – A More Balanced Analysis. + Strontium Data!“. That’s my reassessment of the rain & lichen data collected during and after a radioactive thunderstorm in mid-June 2015, which I wrote about in the now-admittedly-too-alarmist July 6 post, “Gamma-Spectroscopy Results of Colorado Radioactive Freak Rain […]”. My conclusion, unfortunately, is not really different. This post also does contain some corrections, improvements on the visuals, and a few pieces of new material.
Aug. 1, 2015 — Crestone, Colorado, USA
The gist is this: At least half the time (as the samples were all tested twice, except for the Strontium-89/90 tests), the measurement values of many radionuclides were notably higher than the ‘background noise’ measurements found in the ‘Method Blanks’, albeit usually below the respective Minimum Detectable Concentrations (MDC). The significance of this being the case for some synthetic radioisotopes I found in looking at certain natural radioisotopes, about which we know they would be present in practically all rain, namely K-40 and Be-7. Also to be expected in this region are the more abundant natural decay products of Thorium and Uranium, both common in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, such as: Bi-212, Bi-214, Pb-212, Pb-214, Ac-228 and Tl-208. Although they didn’t all always reach the MDC, they were obviously present enough to show up on the scintillator graph and be identified as such. This is for the rainwater sample’s initial test:
Next is the data for these most abundant natural radioisotopes found in local rainwater and lichen samples with my visual representations of this data (Bq/L): Purple is the measured concentration, the red/orange, blue or green boxes are the margin of error ranges, and the black is the Minimum Detectable Concentration (MDC). Liquids are in Bq/L, Solids in Bq/kg. [Correction made: Aug 3, 2015 – When this post first appeared, it stated that the solids results were in Bq/g, which Is what the report said in its opening pages (“4. The analysis results for this sample are reported on a “Dry Weight” basis in units of BQ/gram.“) I had not noticed that they changed it in to Bq/kg in the actual tables. Tx to diemos for pointing that error out.]
For help with the becquerel, picocurie and other units, see Radiation Units & Conversions.) Scroll down past the green-to-magenta-lined Nullschool 250 hPa wind data screenshot for the visual presentations of the synthetic isotopes’ data. The ‘Duplicate Sample’ was the same sample tested again the next day. I’m sharing a bit more here than what I need to make my point, as there’s some other things to be seen, such as the speed with which some isotopes decay away.
- Lead-212 (Pb-212), half-life: 10.64 hours. See it in its decay chain @ http://periodictable.com/Isotopes/082.212/index2.full.prod.html and Bismuth-212 (Bi-212), half-life: only 1 hour. See it in its decay chain @ http://periodictable.com/Isotopes/083.212/index2.full.prod.html
In the rain sample:
-> Pb-212 shows up just above MDC first, then, as to be expected for such a fast-decayer, is gone (became Bi-212, etc.) the next day. All this contributes to the conversation is that an uptick above background can’t be discounted, though in this case it is just a fraction above MDC too.
Bi-212 data is not really different from background. Given its very fast decay and very similar
- Not shown on the scintillator graph, but equally practically certain to be present are Actinium-228 (Ac-228), half-life: 6.1 hours. It occurs in the decay chain several steps before Pb-212 and Bi-212: http://periodictable.com/Isotopes/089.228/index2.full.prod.html; and Thallium-208 (Tl-208), half-life: only 3 hours; which comes right after Bi-212 in the same decay chains: http://periodictable.com/Isotopes/081.208/index2.full.prod.html.
-> We see clearly that Ac-228 is strongly detected (>MDC) at first, and only weakly the second time, albeit still above the (much lower) MDC. Since Ac-228 decays down along the decay chain to eventually becomes Pb-212, then Bi-212, etc., as strong signal of Ac-228 is bound to also lead to trace presence of Pb-212, as observed.
For the bottom part of the last image, we can see that the Blank Method showed what looks like a temporary lab contamination, the only for all isotopes and tests. Nevertheless, the first test showed a strong positive, which had clearly decayed away by the next day. (Pointing out the obvious…)
- Lead-214 (Pb-214), half-life: 26.8 minutes. See it in its decay chain @ http://periodictable.com/Isotopes/082.214/index2.full.prod.html and Bismuth-214 (Bi-214), half-life: 19.833 minutes. See it in its decay chain @ http://periodictable.com/Isotopes/083.214/index2.full.prod.html
In the rain sample:
You can see that on June 22 both Bi-214 and Pb-214 were clearly detected, even above MDC. That it is still NQ (“non-quantifiable”) has something to do with the density being too different than the what the instrument was calibrated to. 24 hours and a lab test later, due to their fast decay, they’re gone. This also illustrates that “definitely present” isotopes sometimes just barely surpass the MDC level, with their margin of error stretching below it.
- Beryllium-7 (Be-7), half-life: 53.22 days. Mainly created in the upper atmosphere by spallation of oxygen and nitrogen atoms; and brought down by the weather. See it in its decay chain @ http://periodictable.com/Isotopes/004.7/index2.full.prod.html
In the rain sample:
–> Perfect example of a “definitely present” isotope measuring just a bit higher than than the Method Blank, yet still below the MDC in one test, while its presence is shown to be certain (above MDC) in the second test. The difference between the Method Blank value and the Duplicate Sample is only x3.2 here.
- Potassium-40 (Kalium-40 or K-40), half-life: 1.2519E+9 years (“forever”). See it in its decay chain @ http://periodictable.com/Isotopes/019.40/index2.full.prod.html
In the rain sample:
–> Another good example: while certain to be present (obvious from the first measurement), sometimes this just shows as a slight uptick above background, but below MDC, as illustrated in the Duplicate Sample test. The half-life is too long for it to have decayed away. Perhaps this case suggests that even negative measurement results, as long as they’re clearly above the also-negative background measurement value, could still suggest trace presence. I did, however, discount all synthetic isotopes that did not show positive values.
Note: All these natural isotopes are also produced as a result of the decay of nuclear fission products, so an unknown percentage of these de facto detected “natural radioisotopes” could actually be of man-made origin, sometimes euphemistically referred to “enhanced natural” concentrations.
Now, here’s the important part:
All the radioisotopes that would be ‘fingerprints of recent nuclear fission‘ were measured in concentrations that were below the lab test’s MDCs (‘Mininum Detectable Concentration’), except for Antimony-124. “Experts” have told me that if a measurement is below MDC, it should be regarded as non-detect (ND). Yet, as we’ve seen in the two comparable examples: Beryllium-7 and Potassium-40, the two abundant naturally occurring radioisotopes that take longer to decay away than just hours or a few days): a slight uptick above background might actually hint of a trace presence of an isotope. This is also similarly the case for about a half dozen synthetic short-lived fission fingerprint isotopes, which is why I consider their presence likely: Antimony-124, Iodine-131, Strontium-89, Ruthenium-106,
Europium-155*, Cobalt-57, and possibly Cobalt-58 and Cobalt-56*.
Hence my impression that the likelihood of “something” releasing active FISSION products into the environment, “somewhere upwind” can really not be dismissed as nonsense.
In a nutshell: While I was unable to proof with certainty that the radioactive rain, which contained air that blew in with the jet stream that had passed over Fukushima some 3 days prior and measured 10.2 µSv/hr upon contact with my Geiger Counter, contained a variety of ‘recent fission’ fingerprint isotopes, my data does suggest that their presence was likely. Next is that data presented visually to make it easier to grasp.
So, to recap before presenting the “recent fission radioisotopes”: It was the data of natural radioisotopes, about which I could be CERTAIN that they were present in the rain (K40 and Be-7 most notably), that convinced me that even relatively slight upticks above background, even if <MCD, are apparently not entirely irrelevant and might in fact point towards the at least likely presence of a radioisotope. When reviewing all the data for such “non-conclusive, yet suggestive” evidence, by process of elimination and further researching possible ‘false errors’, I arrived at the following radioisotopes having been ‘more likely than not’ present in recent rains: Antimony-124, Iodine-131, Strontium-89, Ruthenium-106, (
Europium-155)*, Cobalt-57, and possibly Cobalt-58 and (Cobalt-56). Next I will present their data visually.
[* I’ve scratched Eu-155 & Co-57 as Spectral Interference (SI) might discount these detections.]
Visual presentations of the most relevant data:
(purple is the measured concentration, the red/orange, blue or green boxes are the margin of error ranges, and the black is the MDC. Liquids are in Bq/L, Solids in Bq/kg. For help with the becquerel, picocurie and other units, see Radiation Units & Conversions.)
Antimony-124 (Sb-124), half-life: 60.2 days, fission-activation product. See it in its decay chain @ http://periodictable.com/Isotopes/051.124/index2.full.prod.html
Sb-124 in the rain sample: Yes, near-certain:
!–> One of the two measurement values is 2.5x higher than the Method Blank, outside the Method Blanks’s margin of error, ánd above MDC, and its margin of error does not go below the MDC. (The average of the two measurement values is just above both MDCs too.)
Sb-124 in the lichen sample: Yes, likely:
Sb-124 does not occur in nature, it is an activation product of Sb-123, created in heavy neutron bombardments, such as in an active nuclear reactor. It’s been linked to releases from Fukushima, see here and here, but it is generally more associated with nuclear bomb fallout (caused by the sudden massive neutron bombardment of a nuclear detonation), see here.
- Iodine-131 (I-131), half-life: 8.2 days, fission product. See it in its decay chain @ http://periodictable.com/Isotopes/053.131/index2.full.prod.html. I-131 didn’t show in the rain sample at all.
I-131 in the lichen sample: Yes, likely:
(Note: The visual representation of the margin of error of the ‘Sample’ was drawn incorrectly in the original big post. The above is the corrected version. The uptick appears significant, as 0.8 is 40x larger than 0.02, and was confirmed a second time the next day of testing with a slightly smaller margin or error. Of course, if I-131 was truly present in the lichen, this means it was recently (past 3 months max.) deposited here with precipitation.)
I-131 does not occur in nature, it is a tell-tale sign of recent fission. It’s been linked to releases from Fukushima, which even the IAEA has acknowledges went on for much longer than they should have, see documents linked from HERE. I-131 has also been mysteriously detected in spring 2015 in Finland, Sweden, Cyprus and Norway, coinciding with rather strangely high I-131 concentrations in Japanese sewage…
- Strontium-89 (Sr-89), half-life: 50.6 days, fission product. See it in its decay chain @ http://periodictable.com/Isotopes/038.89/index2.full.prod.html. I didn’t have the lichen sample tested for Strontium due to the financial cost.
In the rain sample: Yes, likely:
- Ruthenium-106 (Ru-106), half-life: 1.02 year, fission product. See it in its decay chain @ http://periodictable.com/Isotopes/044.106/index2.full.prod.html. Fission Product yield: Only 0.3912%
In the rain sample: Yes, likely:
Europium-155(Eu-155), half-life: 4.76 years, fission product. See it in its decay chain @ http://periodictable.com/Isotopes/063.155/index2.full.prod.html Fission Product Yield: Only 0.0803 %
In the rain sample: Yes, likely:
(!-> However, as with the most likely false positive for Co-56 (due to spectral interference from Bi-214, see lab note mentioned in the big post), the also seemingly likely presence of Eu-155 in these samples, so I just discovered (not mentioned by the lab), could also be due to spectral interference from naturally occurring Tl-208, Pb-212, or Ac-228, see here. This seems likely to me, and thus I’m scratching Eu-155 off my ‘likely’ list, after all.)
- Cobalt-57 (Co-57), half-life: 271.73 days. See it in its decay chain @ http://periodictable.com/Isotopes/027.57/index2.full.prod.html
In the rain and lichen sample: Yes, likely for both:
Co-57 does not occur in nature; it is a rare activation product formed by neutron bombardment of steel, usually in a cyclotron. It has not been linked to releases from Fukushima that I know of, but Cobalt-60, which is formed similarly, hás: see here and here. (+ PS: I detected 1.4 Bq/kg Co-60 in one Japanese kelp in 2013, see here.)
(Also possibly present were Co-58, Co-56 and some longer-lived synthetic isotopes. See the previous blog post for details.)
What about Cesium 134/137?
This could be a blog-post in and of itself, but I’m trying to wrap this up after far too many nights researching late into the night, so I’ll touch on the #1 issue ‘experts’ have brought up: If you have fission, you get fission products, and if you don’t detect significant amounts of some of the most abundant gamma-emitting fission products (Cs-134 & Cs-137), then why bother even looking for the much less common other ones? The experts actually go even further, they’ll discount any claim of any rare radioisotope detection as having ‘probably originated from Fukushima’ IF radioCesium wasn’t detected along with it! The EPA doesn’t even test for Strontium unless Cesium goes over a certain limit, which rarely ever happens (in part ’cause they barely test for anything to begin with…), so they pretty much never test for Strontium-89/90.
The main reason why I haven’t focused on the longer-lived “popular with the establishment” isotopes, such as Cs-134/137 is that those could have easily originated in 2011-2012, or even in pre-Fukushima nuclear accidents, leaks and the 1945 – ? nuclear war against Mother Earth, and thus do not per se, by themselves, contribute all that much to ‘proof of recent fission’.
But I also don’t believe that everything is known about how different radioisotopes behave differently through water and the air layers, what makes some bind to other atoms and form new molecules, and which of those may come down sooner under x number of possible weather circumstances, or stay higher up longer, move with evaporation or not, etc. When you look closely at fallout deposition maps, you can easily find examples of one isotope being deposited more in an area that you wouldn’t expect of you based all your expectations of the deposition of Cesium alone. This is even apparent in the fallout maps from early on. Compare Fukushima’s initial I-131 deposition with Fukushima’s initial fallout deposition of Cs-134/137, for instance. In low concentrations, this kind of difference can create situations were one radioisotope is ‘truly detected’, even while Cs-134/137 appears absent.
Here’s my Cs-134/137 data, alongside Ru-106 data for that June 14 thunderstorm rainwater:
The lichen data (which I didn’t graph cause the value differences are too big to fit it on one short scale and still see much detail):
–> Cs-134, with its 1 out of 2 clear positive values appears likely present, while Cs-137 is definitely present in a véry significant amount above MDC. This could be from anything in the nuclear era, especially being downwind from the Nevada Test Site.
[This part has been edited Aug. 3, 2015. Report was in Bq/kg, not in Bq/g, as its opening introductory pages stated. See note at end.]
The lichen measurement lists:
- Cs-134 @ 0.81 Bq/kg (originally listed as (originally listed as 0.022 pCi/g, which is 0.81 Bq/kg) for the first test; and & -0.18 Bq/kg for second test. (Averages to: 0.315 Bq/kg)
- Cs-137 @ 42.4 Bq/kg (originally listed as 1.15 pCi/g, which is 42.55 Bq/kg) for the first test; & 45.4 Bq/kg for second test. (Averages to: 43.9 Bq/kg)
With an uncertain but possible amount of 0.81 Bq/kg Cs-134, and Cs-137 averaging some 43.9 Bq/kg puts these lichen at a relatively benign level of contamination. That means that even the most polluted food for deer and elk populations in this region does not surpass the levels deemed safe for human food consumption, which are 100 Bq/kg Cs-134/137 in Japan. (Scandalously, the US raised its “Derived Intervention Level” up to 1,100 Bq/kg Cs-134/137 after Fukushima.) 44 Bq/kg is not something I’d be all too concerned about, unless it was a large part of a my regular diet for years to come… To see some of the results of Japanese Food tests, see my March 22, 1014 post, “Japanese Food testing data & fallout maps: some useful LINKS“)
Very few thorough studies, if any, have been done about the effects of Fukushima on Northern Hemisphere wildlife, though. But for a clue of how disastrous worse contamination can be, see for instance, “Effects of the Chernobyl Disaster on Sámi Life“.
An excerpt that seems relevant: “[…] Most detrimental was the contamination of lichen, the main winter staple of Scandinavia’s reindeer. Lichens have no root system so they extract nutrients directly from the air, thereby acting as virtual radioactive sponges, absorbing incredible amounts of airborne cesium 137 and passing it straight onto the deer. Lichen is an extremely slow-growing plant, taking 30 years to regrow completely (Vitebsky). Thus, radioactivity in affected lichen may not drop to safe levels short of 20 to 30 years after contamination. […]“
It still has me wonder if Fukushima has somethng to do with all these “mysterious, perplexing, vexing, baffling,…” die-offs in the past several years…
How about the above as a hint for this tidbit of old news: Alaska Department of Fish and Game, July 2014:
“Alaska‘s largest caribou herd, the Western Arctic Herd, numbered about 235,000 animals as of July 2013 […] That’s down from 325,000 caribou estimated in the 2011 census […] The recent census indicates a decline of about 27 percent since 2011. Mortality was very high during 2011-2012 […] In addition to high adult cow mortality during 2011-2012, survival of calves born during 2011 and 2012 was relatively low.“
(See also my posts,
Anyways, I digress…
Ru-106 appears not to be present in the lichen at all, yet it seems quite likely that it was present in the mid-June rain…
Could that difference be because lichen does not bio-accumulate Ruthenium? Evidence points in that direction. See for instance, Ruthenium: its behavior in plant and soil systems:
“[…] The form of the ruthenium contamination was thought to be nitrosyl ruthenium … ruthenium is taken up in much smaller quantities than either strontium or cesium. […]”
My “New Conclusion” Stands:
While it borders on the humorous that I am trying to prove ongoing fission at Fukushima-Daiichi, some 5,000 miles away (often operating out of a camping tent in a remote wilderness of the Southern Colorado Rocky Mountains), the extremely limited data I was able to collect means the following to me:
It appears more likely than not that certain synthetic short-lived fission products were present in that rainwater. I do not have proof of this either, but given the wind patterns at time of sample collection, the still-leaking Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear disaster site is my #1 suspect for where this would have originated from.
I think a lót more, véry thorough and véry sensitive widespread and well-timed testing at various atmospheric altitudes IS absolutely and urgently called for. The situation needs to be approached as if investigating a planetary crime scene.
Unfortunately, the suspects are all the best funded and best-armed warring nations in the world. Armed to the teeth, including with collectively over 15,000 nuclear weapons, all pointed at our very own home planet… “Good luck to us all” tackling this mess…
The seriousness of this situation cannot be underestimated.
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Eisenhouwer warned us…
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So did Einstein…
“The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophes.”
– Albert Einstein
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Except for minor corrections, last edited: Aug. 3, 2015:
!-> major correction in the Cesium section: units were in Bq/kg after all, not Bq/g,
as stated at the beginning of the lab report.
(@ ‘diemos’ See first comment), My basic reading comprehension is fine. I just didn’t double check on the units as it was [erroneously!] clearly stated in the beginning of the report to be in Bq/g. Glad you pointed out the data was actually in Bq/kg. My bad to not spot the lab’s error. Screenshot of the contradicting lab statement re. report units:
Pointing out errors is appreciated. Thank you.