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Ask Slashdot: Radiation Detection For Tokyo Resident?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the if-you're-warm-you're-too-close dept.

Japan 371

An anonymous reader writes "I'm an American who is living in Tokyo. Stories have started popping up about 'radiation hot spots' in Tokyo and surrounding prefectures so I have begun to worry. I live on the first floor of my apartment building and right by our washing machine there is a gutter out there that is clogged with rain water and mud, which has me especially worried because my wife and I are planning to have kids soon. Obviously no one from the government is going to come by to check our gutter so I feel the need to take matters into my own hands. I have absolutely no idea so I'm asking you guys. What kind of radiation detector should I get? A Geiger Counter? If it measures Gamma rays is that enough? Are alpha and beta dangerous too? I know no one has all the answers regarding radiation but any advice you guys could give me would be great."

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An anonymous reader trolls Slashdot. (5, Insightful)

Kagura (843695) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800128)

Ask Slashdot anything you want! No need for prior research or common sense.

Re:An anonymous reader trolls Slashdot. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800250)

But don't bother asking anything about radiation.

They're all pro-nuclear nuts here. They'd lie through their teeth about the risks if they thought it'd mean new reactors might get built.

Re:An anonymous reader trolls Slashdot. (4, Insightful)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800332)

Yes, obviously everybody who isn't rabidly anti-nuclear is a "pro-nuclear nut". And anti-nuclear people never lie or exaggerate.

Re:An anonymous reader trolls Slashdot. (2)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800484)

One sure-fire detection method?

Have a lot of babies. Keep going, until one of 'em is born with two heads, or gills.

Then? I think it's time to move.

Signed,
Leela.

Re:An anonymous reader trolls Slashdot. (1)

errandum (2014454) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800696)

Or maybe in "lots of kids" someone would just have a genetic mutation, in which case you could conclude exactly nothing

Re:An anonymous reader trolls Slashdot. (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800830)

Humour impairment alert!

?eulc a teg nac uoy kniht uoy oD

Re:An anonymous reader trolls Slashdot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800554)

Strawman.

Re:An anonymous reader trolls Slashdot. (0)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800630)

And the comment I replied to wasn't?

Re:An anonymous reader trolls Slashdot. (0)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800712)

Troll.

Re:An anonymous reader trolls Slashdot. (2)

h00manist (800926) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800594)

But don't bother asking anything about radiation.

They're all pro-nuclear nuts here. They'd lie through their teeth about the risks if they thought it'd mean new reactors might get built.

It's hard to understand why human beings are so attached to one side of *every* question. Most people are almost completely unable to think straight because of hardened opinions, and cannot assimilate, much less evaluate, all data and points of view and draw conclusions. Unless they are basically experts in the field and have so much data and facts, that most of our one-sided opinions are classified as laughable religion and politics wars.

Poor Liddle Nuclear Fanboy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800266)

Nuclear Energy: Our Misunderstood Friend

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4W7GkcFawo [youtube.com]

Re:An anonymous reader trolls Slashdot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800400)

Also, no need to read slashdot for the other [slashdot.org] articles on the matter.

Gamma rays (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800138)

Take them like a man.

Re:Gamma rays (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800272)

Take a bath in Chinese mustard and Clorox, it's a cure for radiation poisoning I read about in 'Amateur Doctor' magazine.

Re:Gamma rays (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800308)

Speak for yourself Bruce Banner, we all know its you!

Anyhow, here's the obligatory subject related XKCD illustration. [xkcd.com]

Re:Gamma rays (1, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800582)

Completely pointless and misleading in this context.

It's not proximity to static sources that will hurt this man and his children. It's ingestion, inhalation etc. Think food chain, water and dust/air contamination.

Radiation levels in the bay off Fukushima are not falling. Consider what that means.

Re:Gamma rays (4, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800740)

Godzilla?

Re:Gamma rays (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800442)

Take them like a man.

And then glow like a light bulb. ^_^

wha.. (-1, Flamebait)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800142)

" I know no one has all the answers regarding radiation but any advice you guys could give me would be great.""
http://i.qkme.me/352z5c.jpg [i.qkme.me]

Re:wha.. (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800486)

My guess is that 20-25% of the readership of Slashdot has studied enough physics or radiochemistry to have all the answers as pertains anyone in Tokyo. Possibly more, as it was a good portion of the A-level physics syllabus when I was in school and if you wanted to go to University you typically took one of the traditional hard sciences (at least) regardless of what you were applying for.

I have the minor added advantage that my A-level computing project was a radioisotope identification expert system (you fed in the energies, it determined what combination of isotopes was the most likely to produce that combination) but anyone with a radiochemistry reference book and sample data from geological surveys and nuclear spills could provide as good (or better) conclusions than what was ultimately a very trivial bit of code.

In other words, there should be 100,000+ people on Slashdot who could write a University-grade paper on everything the original poster asked.

Re:wha.. (1)

pnot (96038) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800722)

In other words, there should be 100,000+ people on Slashdot who could write a University-grade paper on everything the original poster asked.

But even assuming you're right, that leaves 10,000,000+ who know bugger-all about it but might nevertheless post an answer; from the fact that he asked in the first place, we can assume that the questioner will have trouble distinguishing the two.

To the OP: as the proud recipient of an A grade in A-level physics, I'd advise wrapping the baby in aluminium foil, and re-aligning the gutter to improve the flow of chi energy into your washing machine.

Save your money. (5, Insightful)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800148)

Even the Setagaya hotspot, caused by a forgotten stash of highly radioactive radium, which was orders of magnitude worse than anything else found in Tokyo, was nowhere near the point where it would have posed any danger to the people in the vicinity.

This is just not something which is worth worrying about, much less spending money on. Save your money for the thing your kid actually needs.

Re:Save your money. (-1, Troll)

optimism (2183618) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800340)

This is just not something which is worth worrying about, much less spending money on. Save your money for the thing your kid actually needs.

+1

Or even better...spend the money on a vasectomy. It isn't fair to have a child who will be severely disadvantaged in this world by a naive, scared, lazy parent. You shouldn't have kids.

Also clean your gutters.

Re:Save your money. (3, Informative)

EdZ (755139) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800516)

Additionally, any equipment sensitive enough to detect the trace amounts of radiation above background in a reliable manner is a) going to be rather expensive and b) need regular calibration (in the correct manner) to produce reliable and accurate results. The latter is the main reason why the whole 'citizen radiation map' thing differs wildly from the IAEA figures: buying a cheap GM tube off ebay is not the path to accurate measurements upon which health decisions should be based.

I can't figure out Slashdot . . . (4, Interesting)

Idou (572394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800520)

If this were any other topic that required technology, the majority of highly modded posts would point to various resources on how to approach the technology. Some posts would even include first hand accounts. However, if it is dealing with nuclear power, which apparently the majority of Slashdoters are completely sold on, the highest modded posts are, "don't bother." Any ideas on the discrepancy? If you LIKE the technology, then shouldn't you be trying to get more people involved? What geek hasn't wasted $300 on some device they didn't really need? Why is it not worth it this time and who are you to judge that for a fellow geek?

Re:I can't figure out Slashdot . . . (2)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800544)

If you LIKE the technology, then shouldn't you be trying to get more people involved?

"The technology" is, in this case, radiation detectors. Now, it is true that I like radiation detectors quite a bit. However, I also realize they are expensive, hard to use, and of little to no value to the person asking the question, and thus the only advice I can honestly give is to not bother, as he would be throwing his money away based on a misunderstanding.

Re:I can't figure out Slashdot . . . (3, Insightful)

Idou (572394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800618)

Alright, why not advise that he BORROWS one from an organization then? Like from Safecast [safecast.org] ?

And what misunderstanding? Maybe he has a kid that likes to play and eat mud and he noticed the 57 microSv/hr hotspot in Kashiwa [nikkei.com] . Who knows wtf is going on around Tokyo, but woudn't a legitimate geek response be to scientifically test the area, just in case? Your response is either non-geek like (for a geek site) and/or just playing "nothing to see here, folks" shill-speak.

Re:I can't figure out Slashdot . . . (5, Insightful)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800676)

I do not have any information about place where you could borrow one, so I am unable to give any advice on that. What I said was, specifically, "Save your money".

I only just found out about the 57 microSv/h hotspot. That is indeed very interesting, but it is extremely unlikely to have anything to do with Fukushima, and sounds more like buried illegal radioactive waste, or maybe another forgotten stash of radioactive material that got buried by chance. That is something that could be found pretty much anywhere, and if you wouldn't worry about that living anywhere else, you shouldn't worry about it when living in Tokyo. The chances of encountering such a thing are quite minuscule.

Now, having citizens equipped with radiation monitors moving around measuring radiation is actually a very good idea, for exactly this reason: There is a lot of forgotten radioactive material around the world that it would be good to find, and lots of people moving doing lots of measurements helps with that. We saw this already with the Setagaya hotspot. However, this doesn't seem to be what the person asking the question is interested in. He just seems to want to measure radiation around his house, not over a larger area and not coordinated with others. This is basically useless.

Re:I can't figure out Slashdot . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800802)

The could use all the citizens so equipped in the Chicago, IL area were legend has it radioactive carbon blocks from the first succesful atomic pile are buried.

Re:I can't figure out Slashdot . . . (2)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800816)

Indeed. I am actually really curious about what would turn up if people all over the world started carrying around as many radiation meters as people in Tokyo are doing right now.

Re:I can't figure out Slashdot . . . (0, Flamebait)

Idou (572394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800836)

Nice, so you consider yourself an "enthusiast" in this area, but you were unaware of the first community of radiation monitoring enthusiasts? Care explaining why you considered yourself qualified to respond to his post then?

No, the poster was asking how best to go about it. The correct geek answer was to tell him to get involved with Safecast [safecast.org] . Your non-geek answer of "forget about it" indicates you are not up to date on state of the radiation measuring community. That, in itself, is to be expected of Slashdot posts, but then moderators blinded by politics mod your post up and, for a while, your post represents the only modded-up response to the question. That is why Slashdot in broken when it comes to anything nuclear related . . .

Re:I can't figure out Slashdot . . . (2)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800868)

Nice, so you consider yourself an "enthusiast" in this area,

No, not really.

but you were unaware of the first community of radiation monitoring enthusiasts? Care explaining why you considered yourself qualified to respond to his post then?

I was aware of them, but don't have specific information. However, contacting them would not help him, because he does not have a problem in the first place. He just has absolutely no need for a radiation detector.

Slashdot jumped the shark years ago... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800760)

like so many venerable early web institutions. What is left is a huge hollow echo chamber for a lot of industry trolls, jerk-offs, morons, etc.

I have a 4-digit Slashdot User ID and I haven't even bothered to log in in the last 4 years or so. Who wants to be associated with this pit of pig swill?

And my captcha is hooves. How apropos.

Re:I can't figure out Slashdot . . . (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800814)


However, if it is dealing with nuclear power, which apparently the majority of Slashdoters are completely sold on, the highest modded posts are, "don't bother." Any ideas on the discrepancy?

Yes, the answer is this is a "side of the room" problem. It's essentially a form of tribalism. A "side of the room" problem is where a complex issue is divided into two sides, with no room in between. Each group tries to enforce a strict, and narrow viewpoint. Anyone outside of this narrow point of view is simply ignored, or assumed to be "with the other side". It's a profoundly stupid way to think, but it's incredibly common, and hardly restricted to Slashdot.

Slashdot is of course on the "pro-nuclear" side, with a smaller minority who's essentially ignored. Expressed group opinions are enforced through moderation. This insulates the majority opinion and discourages other viewpoints, so no others can influence the group. This is doubly reinforced because our fear-culture over-reacts to anything potentially dangerous where ignorance is vast. The media gives makes up scary stories based on slivers of information, and half-truths. Radiation is especially prone to the fear culture because you can't see it, and most people are profoundly ignorant about it.

So the effect on Slashdot is for essentially normal people to over-react and put someone asking a question about something they know little about into "the other side", and assume they're complete morons lapping up the fear. You don't want to be one of those idiots that just fear everything the media tells you, right? It doesn't exactly help that Slashdot tends to be inhabited by people with poor social skills, and superiority complexes.

Basically the problem is that people on Slashdot don't want to listen to "the other" for fear of becoming "the other".

Re:I can't figure out Slashdot . . . (5, Insightful)

Troggie87 (1579051) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800890)

I love technology of all kinds. I am also working on a graduate degree in health physics (radiation protection would be the more appropriate title, fyi). Frankly, assuming this isn't someone trolling slashdot, he really shouldn't bother. The fact that he had to ask if alpha radiation was a significant concern tells me he isn't even close to qualified to assess the risks a radioactive source poses.

Think of it this way.. If someone asked you "I want to write my own TV database scraper. What would the best type of programming language to learn be? Will I need a keyboard? Just fyi, I only have a small amount of time, as this isn't my career," what would your response be? The question he asked is on the same level. If you don't immediately recognize that, then you really have no business commenting on the subject. It would be like someone asking for the best statistical thermodynamics textbook, then making it apparent they didn't know basic algebra.

Ignoring for a second the obvious serious lack of knowledge, radiation monitoring equiptment of any quality is expensive and needs calibration. Which requires access to radioactive standard sources. A geiger counter tells you nothing, especially a crappy one. I have a natural uranium deposit not far from my home. A geiger counter would light up like a christmas tree near it. If you didn't understand what what was going on, or even worse, didn't have any understanding past "the needle is moving, oh no!", then the results would be at best worthless and at worst misleading. And in the end someone untrained would have wasted thousands of dollars for no reason.

Believe it or not radiation is a complex and not at all obvious thing. Most people haven't studied it in any significant fashion, in a university or otherwise. In the same way a doctor would never encourage someone to self diagnose, I would never encourage someone to measure radioactive exposure by themseves. It would be irresponsible for me to do so. And excuse all the comparisons, but I occasionally go to public outreach meetings and have become aware that people need things put in terms they understand. Especially smart people. Smart people tend to form an ignorant view, assume they are right, then assume some kind of conspiracy when they are informed they are wrong.

Indeed he is right. There is serious risk there. (0)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800156)

http://thewatchers.adorraeli.com/2011/10/20/nuclear-fallout-neutron-ray-measured-in-tokyo-uranium-235-all-around/ [adorraeli.com]

http://fukushima-diary.com/ [fukushima-diary.com]

Fukushima-diary reports that a neutron ray was measured in Tokyo. Neutron ray is emitted from Uranium 235 wich came from MOX with Plutonium and can not be measured by most of the Geiger counters.

Re:Indeed he is right. There is serious risk there (3, Insightful)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800184)

Utter fearmongering nonsense. Neutrons occur naturally everywhere as secondary particles from cosmic rays.

Re:Indeed he is right. There is serious risk there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800240)

Utter fearmongering nonsense. Neutrons occur naturally everywhere as secondary particles from cosmic rays.

And the dose rate - if I read the photo correctly - isn't significantly above (the very low) natural background rates for neutrons.

Disclaimer: It's been years since I looked up the natural background rates for neutrons, and I'll bet the natural background rate has more to do with your altitude than it does your latitude or longitude. No idea what it's supposed to be in Tokyo, but I do know that the numbers on the screenshot illustrated do not indicate any cause for alarm.

Re:Indeed he is right. There is serious risk there (1)

tg123 (1409503) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800684)

Utter fearmongering nonsense. Neutrons occur naturally everywhere as secondary particles from cosmic rays.

yes you are right this "background" radiation does occur naturally and no your are wrong their is reason to fear as their is no known safe level of radiation.

This so called "natural" radiation is thought to be the causes of some cancers.

"...most scientists and regulatory agencies agree that even small doses of ionizing radiation increase cancer risk, although by a very small amount. In general, the risk of cancer from radiation exposure increases as the dose of radiation increases. Likewise, the lower the exposure is, the smaller the increase in risk. But there is no threshold below which ionizing radiation is thought to be totally safe."

http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/CancerCauses/OtherCarcinogens/MedicalTreatments/radiation-exposure-and-cancer

Re:Indeed he is right. There is serious risk there (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800716)

Our body has mechanisms to deal with cellular and genetic damage to a certain extent. Eventually something will kill you, worry about what is likely to kill you and not what kills out guy out of fifty million.

Re:Indeed he is right. There is serious risk there (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800752)

most scientists and regulatory agencies agree that even small doses of ionizing radiation increase cancer risk, although by a very small amount.

Actually, "most" is probably overstating the case. This is called the linear-no-threshold model, and it the model which has been in use so far, because it is the one that is the most cautious. However, there is not enough data to to support it. It was chose out of caution, not based on evidence.

As data slowly accumulates, people are starting to lean towards the view that it is, in fact, not correct. Small exposures to radiation do not seem to cause harm. This is likely due the body's repair systems, evolved while living in a world where even our own bodies are radioactive.

Re:Indeed he is right. There is serious risk there (1)

msevior (145103) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800758)

Utter fearmongering nonsense. Neutrons occur naturally everywhere as secondary particles from cosmic rays.

yes you are right this "background" radiation does occur naturally and no your are wrong their is reason to fear as their is no known safe level of radiation.

This so called "natural" radiation is thought to be the causes of some cancers.

"...most scientists and regulatory agencies agree that even small doses of ionizing radiation increase cancer risk, although by a very small amount. In general, the risk of cancer from radiation exposure increases as the dose of radiation increases. Likewise, the lower the exposure is, the smaller the increase in risk. But there is no threshold below which ionizing radiation is thought to be totally safe."

http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/CancerCauses/OtherCarcinogens/MedicalTreatments/radiation-exposure-and-cancer

Maybe, but the risk is utterly not worth worrying about. Every second of your life you have ~5000 decays of potassium 40 within your body. If you were to remove that potassium you would die. A few tens of becquerels of extra radiation external to your body is a ridiculously small extra risk.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potassium-40 [wikipedia.org]

Re:Indeed he is right. There is serious risk there (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800766)

yes you are right this "background" radiation does occur naturally and no your are wrong their is reason to fear as their is no known safe level of radiation.

Utter BULLSHIT..

There is NO LINK between cancer and radiation in humans at below 100mSv/yr acute radiation dosage or 400mSv/yr prolonged radiation dosage or 4000mSv/lifetime (you can't exceed either of the limits). Period.

And now you are trying to spin this into "there is no known safe level of radiation"??? Seriously. Get a life. Radiation is a *stressor* like 1000s of other things that are far more carcinogenic that you choose to expose yourself to. WTF do you think formaldehyde does to you? Or gasoline? Or submicron dust from car breaks on the street?? All of these are far more dangerous than radiation because these target specific areas of your body.

There is NO KNOWN TOTALLY SAFE LEVELS OF BREATHING OXYGEN. Oxygen is the strongest free radical creator in our body. Now go, and deal with it.

You sound like someone that can't understand that they do not live forever. Hell, I hope you do not drive or get out of the house as that is far more dangerous than if you didn't evacuate from Fukushima and and proceeded to lived 2km from the reactor for next 100 years. But I guess sometimes it is futile to explain magnitude of danger if people have preexisting dogma about something.

"There is no totally safe level of radiation" just like it is not totally safe sitting on your ass typing this up. Yeap, nothing is totally safe.... Geez!

Re:Indeed he is right. There is serious risk there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800826)

The risk of drowning increases as your exposure to water increases. There is no known safe level of water.

Re:Indeed he is right. There is serious risk there (2)

DeathSquid (937219) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800252)

Fukushima-diary reports that a neutron ray was measured in Tokyo. Neutron ray is emitted from Uranium 235 wich came from MOX with Plutonium and can not be measured by most of the Geiger counters.

Neutrons come from fission, fusion or radioactive decay. All of these processes produce photons and electrons which are detected by geiger counters. If a significant neutron flux was being produced, whatever was producing them would be sending geiger counters crazy.

Perhaps you should educate yourself in basic physics rather than passing on the unfounded ravings of crazy people?

FWIW, in the week of the meltdown exactly one significant neutron flux was detected. This was probably caused by a prompt criticality in the melting core.

More dangerous as a poison (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800370)

I hope that was a sarcastic post. U-235 has a half-life of 700 million years which is the only reason that there is any left around in nature. As such it is barely radioactive. The only time you have to worry about it is if there is so much that it is near a critical mass (=52kg sphere) or if you are likely to eat it since it is highly toxic.

Re:More dangerous as a poison (1)

tg123 (1409503) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800812)

I hope that was a sarcastic post. U-235 has a half-life of 700 million years which is the only reason that there is any left around in nature. As such it is barely radioactive. The only time you have to worry about it is if there is so much that it is near a critical mass (=52kg sphere) or if you are likely to eat it since it is highly toxic.

I dont know about the 700 million years part but I do know that all reactor fuel is made from U-235 and is very toxic and radioactive.

perhaps you are talking about U-238 which is 99.99 % percent of the form of uranium (apologies to uni lecturers out there but its close enough)
we get on earth the U-235 makes up the other 0.1% which is why you have to enrich the uranium before you can use use it.

http://www.cna.ca/curriculum/cna_nuc_tech/uranium_processing-eng.asp?bc=Uranium%20Processing&pid=Uranium%20Processing [www.cna.ca]

u-235 is alpha emitter (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800468)

u-235 doesn't emit "neutron rays", it decays by alpha emission into Th-231, with a half life of 700 million years. You can even hold a piece of the metal in your hand, wearing just the gloves of a rad suit so you don't have ingestible particles left on your skin. Sure, in a running reactor or exploding old-style fission bomb it can absorb neutron and then fission into many things including neutrons, but there are no exploding reactors or atomic bombs in Tokyo. In general, you need never worry about neutron fields, the situations that would put you in one are generally uniformly fatal.

Re:u-235 is alpha emitter (-1, Troll)

tg123 (1409503) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800854)

u-235 doesn't emit "neutron rays", it decays by alpha emission into Th-231, with a half life of 700 million years. You can even hold a piece of the metal in your hand, wearing just the gloves of a rad suit so you don't have ingestible particles left on your skin. Sure, in a running reactor or exploding old-style fission bomb it can absorb neutron and then fission into many things including neutrons, but there are no exploding reactors or atomic bombs in Tokyo. In general, you need never worry about neutron fields, the situations that would put you in one are generally uniformly fatal.

sure .... I tell you what you demonstrate this to me while i'm behind a thick lead glass window and survive and I will be impressed.

Re:u-235 is alpha emitter (2)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800918)

don't live in fearful ignorance, educate yourself.

The alpha particle from decaying u-235 can be stopped by a few centimeters of air, a sheet of paper or by your skin.

Don't waste your time worrying (3, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800166)

When they talk about "radiation hot spots", they're not talking about anything that will be a problem unless you're standing on it 24/7 for a decade or so.

But, to provide more detail, alpha isn't a problem unless you eat the emitter (or inhale it), beta isn't a problem unless the emitter is in contact with your bare skin, and gamma can be a problem, assuming you live next to it for a while....

If the muddy spot bothers you, hose it off.

And good luck with the kids....

Exactly . . . (1)

Idou (572394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800376)

People don' t eat mud, right!? Neither do people eat radioactive caesium, strontium, or plutonium. See, no problem! Man and radioactive isotope can peacefully coexist!

Re:Don't waste your time worrying (1)

sChatwin (1738824) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800426)

the levels in the hotspots are very low (though above threshold) and a wall or glass pane would protect you pretty well see http://boingboing.net/2011/10/14/at-a-tokyo-radiation-hotspot-weirdness-abounds.html [boingboing.net] Best advice is wash the mud away and get on with life.

Re:Don't waste your time worrying (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800682)

alpha isn't a problem unless you eat the emitter

True, but that's usually the problem - alpha emitters getting into air or food. A gamma emitter big enough to be a hazard is easy to detect and tends to be noticed. [bousai.ne.jp] Japan has a decent monitoring system, and the US has a paranoid one since 9/11. (Back in 1983, there was an incident where a scrapyard in Mexico got a big cobalt-60 radiation source [webcitation.org] and recycled it into steel. Radiation detectors then went in at US border crossings.)

Monitoring milk is a good check for airborne radioactives, because cows concentrate the radioactives from a large amount of grass. The US EPA stepped up monitoring of milk from March to June 2011, and they were able to detect some iodine-131, about 5000 times below allowed levels. It's an isotope with an 8-day half life, so it faded out quickly.

Re:Don't waste your time worrying (1)

pntkl (2187764) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800964)

Ionizing particles, to me, are a cause for alarm. Breathe or 'eat' an or particle, and you have could have a DNA altering friend with you for years. That is a 'friend' that wreaks havoc, where ever it embeds itself. Not all isotopes from that fallout had an eight day half-life, which in all is about a three month courtship. I'd rather seem crazy, than place myself at a higher risk eating an , or walking through a bunch of particles. Quite a lot settles quickly, because, particles are relatively heavy. After nuclear fallout, staying indoors, and wearing a face mask when you're outdoors isn't too crazy, to me. I'll admit it, I rocked mine, all the way in America, for a week or so, after the Fukushima Daiichi explosion cloud started it's way over the Pacific.

So much dumb in a single question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800170)

Son, it sounds to me like Japanese radiation might be the least if your worries.

this might help (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800182)

http://www.gizmag.com/iphone-radiation-detector/20077/

If I remember high school science, alpha radiation sources is OK as even dead skin cells will block alpha radiation.

Re:this might help (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800324)

Alpha emitters should be approached with considerable caution:

Because alpha radiation doesn't penetrate well, simple proximity to an alpha source isn't a big deal; but if you manage to absorb an alpha emitter, the alpha radiation no longer has to penetrate well to cause significant damage(just ask the late Mr. Litvinenko).

Effectively, alpha emitters have to be handled as though they possess pretty extreme chemical toxicity. Properly sealed sources are pretty much harmless. Dusts, dissolved compounds, aerosols, etc. are to be avoided.

Re:this might help (1)

tg123 (1409503) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800884)

Alpha emitters should be approached with considerable caution: Because alpha radiation doesn't penetrate well, simple proximity to an alpha source isn't a big deal; but if you manage to absorb an alpha emitter, the alpha radiation no longer has to penetrate well to cause significant damage(just ask the late Mr. Litvinenko). Effectively, alpha emitters have to be handled as though they possess pretty extreme chemical toxicity. Properly sealed sources are pretty much harmless. Dusts, dissolved compounds, aerosols, etc. are to be avoided.

Yes this the reason why Chernobyl is off limits and if you visit you have to wear a dust mask because if you get one speck of contaminated dust in your lungs your toast.

Android app (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800214)

There is an app for that: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.rdklein.radioactivity - and no, it's not one of those fake geiger counter apps, but instead a clever hack using the CCD of the internal camera for detecting beta and gamma radiation. All you have to do is cover the camera, so only radiation events will show up on the CCD. The app counts the events and checks against an established calibration table.

Best source of information about Fukushima (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800216)

.http://www.hps.org/fukushima/

The rest of their site has a lot of great information about radiation in general. These are the guys to trust. Most others are very confused about radiation, but these are the experts.

Radiation entertainment (2)

davidwr (791652) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800236)

I don't know about a radiation detector, but I do have some entertainment suggestions for your music player, assuming of course that it doesn't get fried by the radiation...

"Christmas at Ground Zero" [sing365.com] by Weird Al

"Hot Frogs On The Loose" [lyricstime.com] by Fred Small

On a more respectful note, there is also Small's "Cranes Over Hiroshima" [lyricstime.com] .

uh? (0)

NetNinja (469346) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800264)

Leave?

This is why the public needs more education (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800312)

It shouldn't be a problem if you're not around it most of the time. We're exposed to cosmic radiation every time we go outside, which is rare for the common slashdotter, I know, and we tolerate it just fine. Bananas are radioactive due to their potassium, but you don't see people trying to ban the sale of them.

If you want to clean out the gutter, and are concerned about the radiation, get some good rubber gloves and some clothes that you can throw away. Unclog the gutter and flush it out for a few minutes. Throw away the gloves and the clothes afterwords.

Re:This is why the public needs more education (1)

fnj (64210) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800770)

Heh, fortunately for the average slashdotter, he doesn't have to go outside to experience cosmic radiation. It is capable of penetrating quite deep underground; certainly into the basement.

Its called a (1)

Roachie (2180772) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800316)

wind direction indicator.

Safecast (3, Informative)

Idou (572394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800318)

You should contact Safecast [safecast.org] . I believe they will even lend you a device and the data will be incorporated into their map.

Oh, yeah, and you asking Slashdot this question is like asking PETA how to skin a deer. Hope you have the persistence to scan through all the highly modded posts insulting your intelligence to actually find useful answers to your question . . .

if you really must, get an electronic dosimeter (3, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800322)

Rather than geiger counter, there are plenty of electronic pocket dosimeters which can also show accumulated dose. Your main concern is measuring gamma. These dosimeters will run from $200 to $600 for a basic model. Some even can show dose rate graph over time. http://www.dosimeter.com/survey-meters/digilert-100-survey-meter/ [dosimeter.com]

In Soviet Russia (-1)

Roachie (2180772) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800326)

Radiation detect YOU!

Geiger counter watches (1)

hort_wort (1401963) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800354)

There are some bulky Geiger counter wristwatches you can buy. Polimaster makes some, for example. They're pricey, but they'll do that job. An alarm goes off if it detects too many Sv, which you can set after establishing a baseline for where you live. Since it's a small counter, it takes about a minute for it to accumulate enough statistics to warn you.

Just never take the thing on a flight. It'll beep without end at high altitude. If you explain why it's beeping, you'll be detained.

Measurement (5, Informative)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800358)

Well, what the best device is depends on what it is you want to measure. Alpha particles are not harmful if on the outside - they can't penetrate the skin - but can be exceptionally nasty if ingested. Beta particles can travel further and through more, but still aren't exceptionally dangerous at the kinds of doses you're likely talking about. Even radioactive particles that emit gamma aren't dangerous in low quantities.

The limestone caves in the Peak District are considered dangerous enough that guides can't go down them on consecutive tours and sections are off-limits to potholers. You should probably wait 10-15 mins after going on a tour before getting into a car if there's a group of you. The source of the radioactivity is a mix of uranium-containing ores and radon-bearing igneous rocks. If you were to encounter anything comparable in Tokyo, you'd be in serious trouble,

In reality, the biggest hot-spot reported to date was due to antiques. In all probability, uranium ore (a very popular mineral for adding a yellow tint to glazes and glass in the 1800s and early 1900s) would be what was found, although depending on the instruments used, radon-based paints (very popular for its glow-in-the-dark properties) is another strong possibility. Neither could be considered remotely a health hazard to your average citizen. In fact, given the volcanic nature of Japan, radon-bearing rocks are almost certainly your number 1 health hazard. For that, you'd want a Geiger counter (only if paranoid) and a decent extraction fan (radon is a gas).

If you're worried about fallout, then put a small plastic tray on the roof to collect rain and borrow a Geiger counter. If the rainfall contains nothing of significance now, then it won't do in the future. It takes a LOT to put something as heavy as dust as high up as the cloud layer.

If you are absolutely paranoid, take a roll of 35mm film into a pitch-black room and unroll it. Cut it into squares. Put each square between two pieces of cardboard that are just thick enough that absolutely no light will get through. Use duct tape round the edges to seal the sandwich up. Radioactive dust is the biggest problem and dust is worst in the corners of rooms, since they're hard to clean. Put a film sandwich in all the corners in your house. Leave them there for, say, about a week. Gather them up and take them to anyone with a darkroom to develop. If the squares are completely fogged over, THEN you can worry. And buy a better vaccuum cleaner. If the film shows little or nothing, then you can be absolutely certain that the only thing that you're in danger of is a heart attack from self-induced stress.

Radiation Cards (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800360)

There are cards from JPLABS (www.jplabs.com) available in a lot of stores.Pick one up.

Don't eat any bananas (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800366)

Did you know they're packed with radioactive Potassium-40?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana_equivalent_dose

I think it's all a communist plot.

TROLL WINS! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800390)

FLAWLESS VICTORY!

obligatory XKCD (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800394)

Can't believe noone posted the obligatory XKCD yet?
http://xkcd.com/radiation/

Chances are you are getting WAY more radiation from your regular dental check-ups.

Oh, and before i forget - make sure you ONLY travel to and from Japan by boat, since flying will expose you to several orders of magnitude of radiation.

Forget it (4, Informative)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800408)

You cannot do this at home. The equipment you can afford (and use) will basically be able to tell you when to run, but that is it. Radioactive substances have highly different toxicity and the direct radiation effect is often not what counts. Example: Plutonium is completely harmless unless ingested. You skin shields completely against its radiation. However when ingested, if comes close to cells and becomes the most deadly substance known to mankind. Also, air happens to shield its radiation! So measuring it requires a very, very thin layer of the substance to be measures, or better vacuum. And very specialized and expensive equipment.

I advise to invest the effort instead in healthy living. If you can, move far away from Tokyo. Other than that you best bet is to hope for the best.

Re:Forget it (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800824)

I asked about this on here not too long ago and was advised that the actual test procedure is to have a fan, and a filter, and to test the filter for particles. It seems to me like you could put a remote sensor in a little wind tunnel with a fan at the back and a filter at the front. You can buy an aerosol cleaning spray intended to remove radioactive particulates from the sensor, but you can also just put it in a plastic bag to prevent it from becoming contaminated itself. You can get medical grade air filter media from various sources on the internet. And you can get a perfectly sensitive and pre-calibrated geiger counter quite trivially. I fail to see why monitoring should be outside the reach of the home user if only they could get some decent information, and I have yet to see a reasonable argument as to why this is not true.

On the other hand, I agree with what you say about moving away from Tokyo... I would personally move away from Japan, since the whole country has always basically been on borrowed time, what with all the volcanism. But then, I live in one of the most geothermally active regions on the planet. I am, however, looking for someplace to move to.

Precautions (2)

TwineLogic (1679802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800420)

As others have noted, ingesting the material is hazardous. This includes inhaling the material. Wear a face filter if dealing with anything suspicious like that. Otherwise, consider putting on rubber gloves with the mask, and removing the gunk from the gutter to somewhere safely away from you.

Don't worry (1, Funny)

jefromi (1766036) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800508)

As long as you wear a tinfoil hat (and suit) you will be quite safe from alpha and beta particles.

Don't feed your child bananas! (5, Interesting)

riptide_dot (759229) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800522)

From http://health.phys.iit.edu/extended_archive/9503/msg00074.html [iit.edu] :

re: The Radiation Dose from a "Reference Banana."

Some time ago (when I almost had time to do such things) I calculated the dose one receives from the average banana. Here's how it goes:

On page 620 of the CRD Handbook on Rad Measurement and Protection, the concentration of K-40 in a "Reference Banana" is listed as 3520 picocuries per kilogram of banana. For those of us who are stuck in certain unit ruts, this is equivalent to 3.52E-6 microcuries of K-40 per gram of banana.

An average "Reference" banana weighs (masses) about 150 grams (I think.) So, the ICRP Reference Banana contains about 5.28E-4 microcuries of probably deadly K-40.

Federal Guidance Report #11 lists the ingestion dose (committed effective dose equivalent) for K-40 as 5.02E-9 Sv/Bq or (again, for those of us who are "unit-challenged," 1.86E-2 rem per microcurie ingested.)

Thus, the CEDE from ingestion of a Reference Banana is 5.28E-4 x 1.86E-2 = 9.82E-6 rem or about 0.01 millirem.

I have found this "Banana Equivalent Dose" very useful in attempting to explain infinitesmal doses (and corresponding infinitesmal risks) to members of the public. (Interestingly, the anti-nukes just HATE this, and severely critisize us for using such a deceptive concept.)

Would love to go into more detail, but have to get back to our DEADLY Human Radiation Experiments (i.e., eating bananas.)

The same table in the CRC Handbook lists 3400 pCi/kg for white potatoes and 4450 pCi/kg for sweet potatoes - so you could carry through the same sort of calculation for Reference Potatoes. Interestingly, raw lima beans come in at 4640 pCi/kg, "dry, sweet" coconut comes in at 6400 pCi/kg, and raw spinach (yum!) comes in at 6500 pCi/kg.

Considering the fact that the DOE has officially stated that "there is no safe dose of radiation" my advice to you all is to stop eating immediately.

Oh yes! Almost forgot. Regarding K-40, go into your local grocery store, buy some salt-substitute (there are two common brands, and the one in the white and orange labeled container works best) spread some out on a table and check it out with a GM survey instrument. There it is folks, deadly radioactivity in your grocery store!

Yours for healthful diets . . .
Captain Internal Dosimetry
aka Gary Mansfield, LLNL, (mansfield2@llnl.gov)

Disclaimer:

Neither Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the University of California, nor the Department of Energy recommends eating bananas.

-------
The point of course, is to make people realize that the notion that "there is no safe dose of radiation" isn't necessarily correct. Your granite countertops have trace particles of uranium in them. The Capital Building in Washington DC has so much granite in it that it wouldn't be qualified as a nuclear facility because it already emits too much radiation. We consume radiation all of the time from a variety of sources and our bodies rid themselves of it naturally.

Re:Don't feed your child bananas! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800808)

that's nice. i guess that since there are areas around tokyo right now sitting at 7 uSv (that's 61 mSv/year) and rising, i can take comfort in the fact that there's no harm in eating over 100 bananas every day for the rest of my life, since contamination of such a large area can never be cleaned up. not to mention fukushima is STILL releasing radioactive steam to this day. also disregard that K-40 is a beta emitter, and much of fukushima's vomit consists of alpha, gamma and neutron emitters.

i'm glad you have discarded the concerns of an ordinary citizen with your magical science-man hand waving. it shows how little you care for human life in general. i mean why else would an industry of engineers design ticking time bombs that are NOT (and no plant on earth is at the moment) passively safe? interrupt outside power, disrupt the cooling reservoir, and boom, unstoppable meltdown.

as horrifying as it is, things will only change when a plant in the usa depopulates a large metropolitan area. then maybe we can finally look to the solution to all these problems - passively safe, actinide-consuming thorium reactors.

it'll be fun to see the comments on here when birth defects erupt all over japan in the coming months, let alone when a plant like north anna or indian point forces 20 million americans to leave their homes. you'll keep defending the uranium fuel cycle to the death, god knows why.

Re:Don't feed your child bananas! (1)

TheBilgeRat (1629569) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800900)

Of course this is true, but how about potatoes grown on land seeded with radioactive cesium and strontium? I am guessing their activity is considerably higher. Kids these days. the USSR goes away and everyone forgets anything to do with radiation and dying in mushroom clouds, unless it involves using rad-away after eating some mole rat or mirelurk meat and gunning for super mutants.

A video was made about this not long ago (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800536)

This video explains how to keep unwanted radiation out of your Japanese home -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FYuYkPgDkk

kind of off-the-wall suggestion (1)

reiisi (1211052) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800600)

Googled for "ratiation detectors for Japan [google.co.jp] ". Found this interesting link [geek.com] , among other things.

I was going to echo the general attitude that the fears are probably misguided, but somewhere in the Church literature (I'm "Mormon") I was reading several months back, I noted that we had sent a bunch of radiation detectors to the Touhoku area.

So they apparently are either taking the risk seriously, or they are wanting to provide our members with a way to check and avoid unnecessary worries.

But you might check with your nearest church or community group with which you have some sort of affiliation. Or, in fact, do not assume that the "government" would not send somebody by to check your gutter. Go ahead and check with your nearest yakusho (cho-yakusho -- town/subdivision -- or ku-yakusho -- ward, not the LDS kind, but the division of the large city kind). If your wife is Japanese, she should be able to find out pretty easily, if you can convince her that it's okay to ask. If not, look up the phone number of the place you go to get your gaijin registration taken care of.

Context. (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800628)

So the story others have pointed towards talks about a "neutron hotspot" someone found. The measured level of neutron radiation is 464 nano-Sieverts/hour. That's an annual dose of 464*24*365= about 4 million nano-sieverts/year, or 4 milli-sieverts/year. Background radiation varies in the world from around 2-6 milli-sieverts/year. So essentially the additional neutron radiation is about equal to a normal background radiation. Basically these so called "hot-spots" are completely harmless. If you're especially worried because it's "neutron radiation", and "extra harmful" well, the sievert unit is already calibrated to account for the additional damage that neutrons impart.

If these "hot spots" (more like slightly warmer spots) actually exist it makes me wonder what causes them. Just random variation? Some form of bio-accumulation? What? Mushrooms for instance bio-accumulate certain radioactive elements, to the point where in some parts of Europe you still can't eat the wild mushrooms because of Chernobyl.

Peace of Mind (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800670)

Adafruit.com [adafruit.com] sells a Geiger counter kit. They specifically state that it's not for life-or-death situations, but it sounds to me like all you really need is a little peace of mind. For $99, plus shipping and a little elbow grease, this should do the trick.

If, on the other hand, you have reasonable cause to think that there is a real threat in your area, then disregard my suggestion. I don't know enough about the subject to provide the answers you need.

Take it to a lab (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800690)

Nothing you buy can compete with the high tech equipment and experienced personnel of a lab.
If you are really worried, just take a sample to a lab and have them analyze it.

This company [1] for example started doing radiation tests for manufacturers after the Fukushima incident.
I don't know if they would do it for a private individual as well, but it doesn't hurt to ask. If they don't, just look for another one.

[1] http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20110522005028/en/TUV-Rheinland-Japan-Introduces-Radiation-Protection-Measurements [businesswire.com]

You're an idiot (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800692)

This kind of fear is exactly why your nickname is . You're 250km away & I'm sure the government is still scrambling for long-term housing for the people in REAL shit, not your fear of a few smoke detectors, camping lannterns, bananas & duct tape being unwound. Solution: buy iodine tablets. They're available at every snake oil dealership & contain mostly sugar so they'll go down easily. Be sure to blast Stars & Stripes 24/7 & display as much american flags as you can fit on your front porch or it won't take affect & you'll get FIV. It's the feline equivelant to HIV but I hear there's plenty of cats there.

Not worth worrying about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800750)

Your drain isn't worth worrying about.

Gamma rays go straight through you. Hardly any hit you. Any source of gamma rays in your gutter would have to be very concentrated to provide any cause for concern over a protracted period.

Alpha and beta particles have such short range that its doubtful that any can get from the gutter into your apartment, let alone hit you.

The worst thing you could do (assuming the mud has alpha or beta emitters in it) is to go and clean the drain (put yourself in range of the emitters by being in contact with it). So leave it as it is.

Build your own for $10 (2)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800780)

Here is a way to build your own radiation detector to check a sample.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVj69R66Agg [youtube.com] The coolant used is an air duster can turned upside down. Any self respecting slashdotter should have one of these.
So basically what you need is isopropyl alcohol 99%, a clear sided container with the bottom painted black, a bright flashlight, a small rag or tissue, and an air duster can.
Should be able to build it in 10 minutes. If you have a hot source you will see many streaks of radiation. With background radiation you will only get the occasional streak. Maybe one every 20 seconds.

eBay is full of ripoffs (1)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800792)

You used to be able to get a Geiger counter on eBay for well under $100 (which is itself a rip-off because in Eastern Europe they are really cheap). After Fukushima people went crazy in countries as far away as America thanks to our media's 24-hour *F*E*A*R* cycle. Prices jumped up to $1000 and were sold out for many months in advance. They've fallen back to $400. Still a rip-off, but wait and they will keep falling.

Radiation detector info here (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800800)

Please read the Guide to Radiation Detectors:

http://linuxslate.com/Guide_RadMeters.html

Also, reviews of a couple of inexpensive, portable detectors at the same site (Linked in above article)

Disclaimer: That is my website.

A couple of reasonable options (1)

Herkimer Mokume (2490972) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800820)

I will only speak to the use of some detection equipment, not to whether you need it or not.

I will also not attempt to define the types of radiation you need to be monitoring or maybe being exposed to.

You should be an informed consumer of the data that these devices can give you. Simply using them without that knowledge is a stress magnet without end.

Make sure whatever path you choose that you use devices with a verifiable calibration ($). Meaning you are buying from a professional company that provides
NIST (USA) or Japanese/EU equivalent (apologies to nationalists with a cert grudge to bear ;-) certifications that the device is calibrated with a known source of
energy. (I don't have time to explain this fully, please look it up for your location). This ensures that you are getting real data that you can then use to make decisions.

To keep track of how much ionizing radiation one has been/is being exposed to I recommend using the following devices:

Use a Film Badge Dosimeter or a TLD (crystal dosimeter) Badge. You wear the badge (the size of a postage stamp on a pin) for a period of time (usually 30-90
days) then send it in and the company tells you how much radiation the badge (and whatever was near it) was exposed to.

Pluses: Cheap, accurate, pin them on a child's clothing, ease of use. No batteries. No dials/screens to misread/misunderstand and stress out about. It can provide
the data points necessary to make medical decisions. Buy one for each person in your house, and one for the house itself. You can then correlate the people
dosages vs the house dosage and make comparisons (provided they are all used for the exact same amount of time).

Minuses: It only tells you AFTER the exposure. Each type of badge has a max amount of radiation it can measure. Meaning if it is exposed to an amount over the
limit.....it only tells you that you went over.....not by how much.

The following item is battery powered, susceptible to misinterpretation for a given situation, and require regular calibration/re-certification (yearly).

"Chirpers": These are belt clip battery powered ionizing radiation detectors. One can use them to detect ionizing radiation of certain types and energy levels, and
audibly chirp when a set threshold of radiation measured.

Pluses: Instant warning of overexposure.
Minuses: Expense. No "history" of the amount it has been exposed to, only a simple "spot" reading. Very easy to let down ones guard and "believe" you are safe because it is
not chirping. Not an actual substitute for knowing the levels of ionizing radiation one is being exposed to. Most models only measure a limited range of
ionizing radiation. The devices can become "saturated' and unable to accurately respond in some situations.

Geiger counters are a complex topic. If you don't have the time/background to take a deep dive into the topic and understand their strengths and weaknesses
(inverse square, particle contamination etc), then you might want to find someone who can teach you the basics.

Best wishes to you and yours from me and mine.

gb2US (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800882)

...and spread your paranoia there.

Call city hall (1)

Kagetsuki (1620613) | more than 2 years ago | (#37800908)

They have Geiger Counters at most government facilities now and will come and check areas of concern. Out of curiosity I went to a nearby civic center and had my cars air filter checked out after I drove through Fukushima (on the Touhoku expressway) and it didn't read higher than normal. Then a week ago there were concerns over mushrooms from the area and my wife had some checked out. It's not just government facilities offering the service - depending on where you are community centers and other groups, supermarkets, and even a few taxi services have counters. In Tokyo independent groups have been regularly checking parks, gutters, etc. but they've not yet found any dangerous levels of radiation within Tokyo.

Otherwise they have basic detectors at many major electronics stores - they won't give you finite readings but an alarm will go off if the radiation level is too high. It's one of those alarms that detected the jar of material in Setagaya-ku - which by the way was not related to the reactor, it was a jar of radioactive powder that had been used as "medicine" in the 40's/50's.

Maybe you should read the news or check the facts before panicking and asking stupid questions on Slashdot.

Raining in Tokyo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37800972)

I am standing in the rain now...tastes like mutant juice to me....

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