Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Panic About Radiation

A lot of people do not realize that the risk of fallout is generally from events within a few hundred miles.  If someone had set of a nuclear weapon or two over Japan, I would not be freaking out about the radiation exposure from it.  And venting from these nuclear reactor failures?  Noise.  Worry more about the bananas, or being around a smoker.

My CD-710 radiation survey meter (calibrated last year) says that my exposure inside the house is 0.04 R/hr, or 40 mR/hr.  Here's a graph of someone's radiation exposure on a Texas vacation.  Because of my elevation (3820 feet), I'm not surprised that 40 mR/hr is at the high end of this.  (Elevation means less air protecting you from radiation.)  For all you nervous nellies out there--feel free to pull out your survey meters, and post what exposures you are getting.

UPDATE: A reader says that this should 40 microroentgens/hour--and from reading various sources, that sounds right.  Yet the dial on this survey meter clearly shows R/Hr.  I suppose that I better find a manual for this Jordan CD-710.

UPDATE 2: Here's the manual.  I'm reading this correctly.  Maybe I'm dead?  I have had this reading for many months.

UPDATE 3: Looking at the manual, it says to let the unit warm up for a minute or two before zeroing.  That may be the problem.  I'll try this again this evening, after letting it warm up.

UPDATE 4: I accidentally left it on all day--and when I rezeroed it, it now shows just barely above zero--something that is way down in the "not to worry" range.

8 comments:

Henry said...

It might be good to remind ourselves that from 1945 to 1980 there were 521 atmospheric nuclear tests (plus 2 actual uses in Japan) with an estimated total nuclear yield of 480 Mt. Somehow, though, we managed to survive. I suspect that, in the unlikely event of a complete meltdown at the Japanese nuclear power plant, the result will be nowhere near as dire as the media would have us believe.

I recall that Michael Crichton once wanted to write a novel on a planetary disaster, and thought that the Chernobyl accident would make a good basis for the novel. Upon investigating, he learned that the total number of deaths (immediate and long-term) was estimated to be less than 4,000. Compare this number to CNNs initial estimate of the number of long-term deaths: 3.5 million!

The media is simply trying to attract viewers/readers by instilling fear in as many people as possible.

Slim said...

I think that you mean 40 microR/hr. 40 mR/hr would be fatal over the long term. At your elevation, you would expect your dose to be about 400 mrem/year, or something much closer to 40 microrem/hr.

Clayton Cramer said...

Hmmm. It says R/hr on the scale.

Bubblehead said...

Right next to the reactor compartment on my submarine you'd get about 1 mR/hr. If you've got 40 mR/hr, you'd be dead by now.

Bubblehead said...

I'm guessing you don't have the meter zero'd correctly.

Clayton Cramer said...

Looking at the manual, it says to let the unit warm up for a minute or two before zeroing. That may be the problem.

Minicapt said...

Bubblehead is a ghost of his former self?

Cheers

Larry said...

http://www.northwestfirearms.com/preparedness-survival/53404-dsitributed-ifo-network-approach-things.html