Which Radition Detector to Buy?

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elsur's picture
elsur
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Which Radition Detector to Buy?

We are looking for a simple, at home way to test our rain water, greens from the garden, and the milk from our cows/goats for radition/contamination.   Does anyone have any recommendations for a simple detector?

 

Thank you!

Elsur

Dogs_In_A_Pile's picture
Dogs_In_A_Pile
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Not Simple.....

elsur -

This probably doesn't help narrow your search any, but....

If you are looking for a detector that will accurately sample solids and liquids across the spectrum of energies and radiation types you expect to encounter (or are looking to protect yourself from), it will not be simple or inexpensive.

Stay away from anyone advertising a reasonably priced "one detector fits all" application as both the accuracy and capability of the instrument are likely overstated.

Look for a detector that will measure beta decay and a separate detector that will measure gamma decay.  Expect to pay at least $500 for each. 

You will need to understand the physics of each radiation type before the instrument will tell you anything useful about what may be present and whether or not it is a real threat.  You will also need to have a firm grasp of determining background levels prior to use and understand that background can and will change from day to day.  It will be necessary to be able to do half life calculations so you can determine the isotope(s) present.  Feel free to PM if you want more detailed info.

Good luck.   

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joesxm2011
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Most not sensitive enough

I had hoped to buy a detector to measure levels in food and water as you want to, but I sort of gave up because it seems that the required equipment is very expensive.

I am far from an expert and I hope that some like Dogs will reply on this.

As I understand it most of the devices that the general public buys are referred to as survey meters and are good to detect a large amount of contamination as would exist after some sort of blast.

The large yellow civil defense meters fall into this category.  There there is one version that is more sensitive than the others (I think it might be model 720 but I am not sure if I remember the number correctly).  This model seems to be out of stock everywhere.

I had my eye on the Gamma-Scout which seems to be a nice little unit, but it is based on the gieger-meuller tube (I guess that is why we call them geiger counters).

I saw some youtube videos by a German woman posting with a name of bionerd23.  She sounds like she knows about radiation detectors and in one video she had a chunk of radioactive glass from the american 1950's test sites that she said would approximate the levels in contaminated food.  She tested this with the sensitve CD survey meter with an enhanced acessory and also with the Gamma Scout.

If you search for "Gamma Scout Review" on youtube you can probably find the videos.

The end result seemed to be that you needed a device based on a scintillation counter and these apparently cost close to $10,000.

Before I realized this I rushed out an bought the Nuk-Alert, thinking if we got rained on it would go off.  This is not the case, it is only good for a very severe scenario.

I probably will buy something like the Gamma Scout eventually when they go off backorder, but I do not believe that it will be useful for testing food.

It is a shame that the government with its large equipment budget is not willing to test our food for us.

I think some others have posted on this site or maybe in the Arnie Gunderson videos that the average person should not freak out but make a greater effort to wash food before eating and maybe not to track in a lot of dirt from outside the house.

Sorry that I can not be more helpful, but please take care to make sure that the device you buy will actually be usable to test food since most likely it will be not in our price range.

Joe

 

whoops - dogs replied while I was typing my response :-)

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contamination meters

 Hi Elsur,

This is what we used when I was in the navy.  I gather there's a few of them rattling around the surplus marketplace:

http://www.alpharubicon.com/basicnbc/anpdr27ser.htm

The AN/PDR27 has a removable "beta window" shield on one end...so that one can detect beta + gamma (window open) minus gamma (window closed) for a reading of beta emitting contamination.  We used these for decontamination work, they are not high range.

You'd also want the ability to detect alpha-emitting contamination (verry bad if ingested); we used the AN/PDR56 scint detector:

http://www.orau.org/ptp/collection/radiac/IM160PDR56.htm

 It had a very fragile element, as I recall (alpha particles are not very energetic - but they have a very high quality factor and are the most dangerous form of contamination when taken internally.  The foil over the probe therefore is exceptionally thin).

The civil defense meters I've seen are gamma-only, and seem to be calibrated into the "death zone" (!!)

As Dogs said, nothing worthwhile is likely to be cheap, and the things tend to be (relatively) fragile. 

Cheers,
Mike

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a quick google

 I found this with a quick google search:

http://www.dosimeter.com/survey-meters/

they look about right.  "Call For Price" looks kind of ominous though.

Cheers,

Mike

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elsur
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Testing Rain Water For Radiation

Thank you Dogs, Joe and BadScooter for your comments and links!  Sounds like the conversation is more complicated than I had thought.  I am checking into the detectors you mentioned.  Perhaps it may be more useful (and simple) to just try to test the rain water?  That way I would know what is falling on the garden, and what the animals are ingesting. 

I ran across this youtube of a fellow travellling across Canada testing the rain that fell on his windshield. 

He is using a Russian-made Soeks Ecotester, which costs around $300 on Ebay.  The write up says that it tests nitrates in food as well, but I'm not sure if they mean radiation.  Does anyone have any info on this detector?

 

Thanks,

Elsur

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Possible option....
elsur wrote:

Thank you Dogs, Joe and BadScooter for your comments and links!  Sounds like the conversation is more complicated than I had thought.  I am checking into the detectors you mentioned.  Perhaps it may be more useful (and simple) to just try to test the rain water?  That way I would know what is falling on the garden, and what the animals are ingesting. 

I ran across this youtube of a fellow travellling across Canada testing the rain that fell on his windshield. 

He is using a Russian-made Soeks Ecotester, which costs around $300 on Ebay.  The write up says that it tests nitrates in food as well, but I'm not sure if they mean radiation.  Does anyone have any info on this detector?

 

Thanks,

Elsur

elsur -

Rather than count rainwater, I would suggest you count activity in whatever particulates might be in the water and are left behind when the water evaporates.  A water sampler is tricky since it has to be calibrated properly to account for the shielding the water provides - there is a learning curve from an operations standpoint that is a little more complex than a "point and shoot" survey instrument for dry particulate radioactive contaminants.

I spent some time poking around and the following site looked reasonable - I have no interest or connection to these guys, they simply passed the sniff test, I'm sure others do as well.  They have entire monitoring systems but also separate instruments.  Getting both a radiation exposure survey meter AND a contamination survey meter seems like overkill for what your stated intentions are.  Based on what you've posted so far about what your use would be, I'd go with a contamination survey meter.

http://www.ludlums.com/

Price List - the specific radiation detectors and contamination survey meters star on page 7: 

The Model 44-92 Xenon Gas Proportional Beta/Gamma Detector wold probably suit all of your needs, you would need to call Ludlum and ask about the accuracy at low levels of activity/energy and contamination.

http://www.ludlums.com/images/stories/price_list/LMI%20Price%20List.pdf

Happy hunting.

elsur's picture
elsur
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Wow - thanks Dogs - this is

Wow - thanks Dogs - this is hugely helpful!!  Upon checking out the links you provided, I can see once again that this is quite a complicated subject.  The contamination survey meter sounds like the way to go.  Would there be enough residue from a bit of evaporated water to sample - seems like once the water is dried up, there would be nothing visible there to test.   Alas, $1750 is out of our price range.

 

We feel uncertain now about going out when it's raining, about eating our greens from the garden and about drinking the milk from our animals that graze.  We know of no reliable agency, educational institution or group that is doing monitoring and making the results public.  This is disconcerning.  So we would like to be able to answer the questions we have on our own.  Do you think there is some way we can know if our rain water is safe, without spending so much?  Perhaps another way to go would be to take rain water (or vegetable or milk samples) and send them somewhere reliable for testing.

 

We sure appreciate your feedback!

 

Elsur

elsur's picture
elsur
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Radioactive Rain in Canada

Here's a youtube showing a Canadian citizen using a geiger counter to detect high levels of radiation after a rain storm, more than double previous high reads. I know nothing of this youtuber, and cannot vouch for him.  However, it does appear that the rain is radioactive, as of August 14th.  Any comments on this?

 

 

Thanks,

Elsur

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I'm curious...

It's been about 20 years since I held a radiac, but I'm curious if a temperature inversion would provide those kinds of readings?

Dogs_In_A_Pile's picture
Dogs_In_A_Pile
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Just my opinion.....
elsur wrote:

Here's a youtube showing a Canadian citizen using a geiger counter to detect high levels of radiation after a rain storm, more than double previous high reads. I know nothing of this youtuber, and cannot vouch for him.  However, it does appear that the rain is radioactive, as of August 14th.  Any comments on this?

 

 

Thanks,

Elsur

Elsur -

This video clip is so full of survey technique errors and other technical issues I'd be inclined to dismiss it outright.  Water shields beta so counting something wet is pointless.  We don't know where the surveys were done so we don't know about naturally occurring background.  There is no isotopic analysis performed so we don't know what he is "measuring".  For this guy to claim that he is measuring radioactive material from Fukushima is a bit of a reach considering there is nothing going on at the accident site to release the levels necessary to generate the readings in Canada.  I think he's got an agenda and he's just grindng an axe - probably upset that Lord Stanley's Cup is once again resident south of the border.

All kidding aside, the technical shortcomings the video doesn't address are huge.  While he is clearly counting something, it is almost impossible that it was contamination released from Japan.

Dogs_In_A_Pile's picture
Dogs_In_A_Pile
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The bubblehead calls it correctly.....
Chucks688 wrote:

It's been about 20 years since I held a radiac, but I'm curious if a temperature inversion would provide those kinds of readings?

Chuck -

Your memory serves you well - a TI would result in the readings in the clip.  As would a simple Coleman lantern mantle or tungsten impregnated welding rods.

elsur's picture
elsur
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How are we to know about fallout?

Is there any way to know if we are getting any radioation or fallout effects in our air, rain and communities? 

It sounds like radiation detectors are complicated and expensive.  Local agencies, universities, etc., don't seem to be reliably monitoring and reporting.  The EPA has raised the acceptable levels of exposure.  Reports keep coming out about low or not-so-low levels of contaminants being detected in various areas from Canada, down the west coast of the US to the east coast - from sources ranging from UC Berkeley, to reputable newspapers, to youtubers.  There are reports of high levels of infant mortality in the aftermath of the Fukushima situation.

How are we to know if and how we are being affected? 

...feeling somewhat disenfrachised to say the least...

 

Elsur

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I don't worry about Japanese radiation in North America

Elsur,

That may sound pretty cavalier, but it's honestly my opinion.  It's been about 20 years since I was an occupational radation worker, supervising nuclear plant operations on US Navy submarines. 

I have enough friends that are still serving that if it was an issue, some of them would at least hint about it.  I asked the question about temperature inversion earlier in the thread because it is fairly common and gives the indication of readings that are substantial, but with a few further steps you can determine there is no real issue other than a naturally occuring event.  DIAP also correctly points out that wet readings, as seen in the video are not routinely done.  There are also survey issues around making contact with what you are surveying, etc., etc...

Three things affect your exposure to radiation other than the amount of radiation at the source:

Time - The longer you are exposed, the more concern.

Distance - The closer you are, the more concern.  There is a lot of distance between Japan and North America.

Shielding - The greater the amount of things that absorb radiation between you and the source, the less concern.

Safe is a relative term, but I haven't seen any measurements taken by folks in North America that know enough about what they are doing to lead me to believe that I should be worried about it.  That is not to say that the readings at the site in Japan are insignificant or safe.  Totally different issue.  If I was going to take any action at all it would be to lower my consumption of Pacific harvested wild caught seafood, but  I'm not worried enough about it to track it at this point.

Now, the possibility of the US dollar losing reserve currency status.  That concerns me enough to change behavior...

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badScooter
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688

Hi Chucks, EOOW or EWS? 

"On thread", though, Elsur, for what it is worth, I agree w/ Chucks, I also don't have a big fallout concern - except in the event of a nuclear exchange (in which case, coming down with cancer in 10 years is probably not our greatest concern).  If I had a nuclear reactor upwind within a couple hundred miles I'd probably find it prudent to have a beta-gamma survey meter, in case of a Fukashima type event (I live on top of a similarly at-risk area), but I have some basis for believing substantial radioactive contamination worry is really low probability at this point.  I'm concentrating resources on the stuff I've got good reason to believe is much higher probability, i.e., the Martenson story...

Cheers,
Mike

Chucks688's picture
Chucks688
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EWS on Fast Boats

One watch as Shutdown Reacto Operator was enough to convince me I needed to qualify EWS/EDPO.   

badScooter's picture
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688

<grin>  Those knuckledraggers harassing you?  I was on boomers, didn't get my EWS until I went back to S8G/AFR for instructor duty.  Pretty good times, more or less.  This thread had me thinking waay back to running primary analysis and gearing up for OBRT inspections (bleah).  I guess my general take on civvie contamination monitoring is that it is either "background" at the fiducial level, or total catastrophe in which case it will be pretty obvious it is a good idea to leave Dodge...

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STAY AWAY FROM Gamma-Scout Geiger Counter!

STAY AWAY FROM Gamma-Scout Geiger Counter!

I purchase many items on the internet and have never experience such a nightmare as I did with this company.  First of all, I purchased from their US distributor.  The package arrived about a month later from Denmark and I had to pay $90 in custom fees.  I noticed after about 2 weeks it kept reading zero.  The manual in the box had a Dr. Mirow in Germany as a contact so I contacted him.  He said the US made sensor is defective and they were having problems with them and to ship it to him in Germany to get it fixed which I did via Canada Post with Tracking which cost me $62.  Dr. Mirow did not pick up the package and it was returned to me and I had to pay another $62 to retrieve it.  I thought I was dealing with a company but Dr. Mirow is a one man show and he it took about a week each time to get a reply.  After waiting 3 months I decided I did not want it repaired as I did not think much of their customer service.  Dr. Mirow told me to contact the distributor where I bought it!  He should have told me this in the first place.  I discussed all of this with distributor only to get this response “You did not contact us at the very first time and for a long time we don't know what was going on. We can not refund the charges between you and Dr. Mirow. Sorry!”  They knew all the details and why I sent it to Dr. Mirow directly.  SO STAY AWAY FROM PURCHASING ANYTHING FROM THIS COMPANY!  EXTREMELY POOR CUSTOMER SERVICE WITH A “WE DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR PROBLEMS WITH OUR PRODUCT."

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