Failure of state and federal authorities to have been prepared for such a calamity – a nuclear disaster overseas that would impact the homeland within a week – made clear the need to immediately inform millions of people in real time with continuous radiation monitoring that could be trusted.
EnviroReporter.com responded to this need and began broadcasting Radiation Station on March 15, 2011 the ambient air readings in the coastal city of Santa Monica in the greater Los Angeles basin.
Upwind of millions in the basin and the Inland Empire beyond, Radiation Station has grown to include Radiation Stations in Glendale, the Santa Monica Mountains and Ventura locally, with the Glendale station also streaming 24/7 with a live Inspector and a scrolling averaging display.
Potrblog’s St. Louis base and a Harrisburg, North Carolina Radiation Station also share their precipitation readings in this free network updated frequently. All of these stations use Inspector Alerts.
These highly sensitive monitors can detect alpha, beta, gamma and x-ray radiation in air, water and soil along with food and drink. Experienced operators can differentiate what type of radiation is being detected through tests for alpha, beta and gamma though not the exact isotope.
Isotopic identification can be achieved through lab tests, which can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars per sample depending on how large a suite of radionuclides is being tested for. A more desirable, and trustworthy, method for radionuclide recognition is an isotopic identifier. This detector immediately identifies radionuclides obviating the need for multiple lab tests. Isotopic identifier are very expensive with the top Ludlum model costing over $25,000 with software and ancillary but required equipment.
Regardless of the limitations, the amount of data generated by Radiation Station – Santa Monica since four days after the meltdowns began has been voluminous and illuminating. Over 1,500 tests in four states and miles about the Earth where we measured jet radiation over 5 times normal even accounting for altitude.
Special tests revealed elevated radiation in Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon rain. Southwest Michigan rain samples were hot. Santa Monica and Los Angeles rain and mist were also high. Japanese sake, beer, vegetable juice, seaweed, pastries and tea all registered significant ionization above background. Powdered milk, turkey hot dogs, and jet travel breathing masks were all part of the specific media tested many of which were recorded in these videotaped radiation detections.
Establishing a comprehensive data set of interior and exterior backgrounds was crucial to this work not only to have the information but to more precisely and inventively use available radiation monitors. Experience gained from working with nuclear radiation monitors since 1998, crucial to reporting on Rocketdyne, Runkle Canyon and the nuclear dump on Veterans Administration property in Brentwood, has been valuable in maintaining high quality control and accurate readings and determinations.
Radioactive fallout can come in several forms, such as the hot ash and debris that rained down on Fukushima residents fleeing the multiple meltdowns last March. Radioactive rains, particularly on the West Coast from the Bay Area to British Columbia, have rolled in repeatedly over the last 11 months.
Driven by the jet stream eastward, the Midwest and Ontario have also been hit pretty hard by radiation if numerous online reports from folks with Geiger counters are to be trusted. YouTube videos drive home how hot some of these rains are.
Bookending these sizzling showers were snow storms December 27 and January 1 that came in at background with no added radiation. This shows that Fukushima radiation on the jet stream can flux in amounts of radiation in precipitation.
These rains also showed no sign of radon daughter decay. Rain without radon daughters was recorded in Santa Monica December 12 and November 12 of last year. The deduction that the precipitation was radon-free comes from the fact that the rain came in at background showing no additional radioactivity.
Radon daughters or progeny are the radioactive decay product of radon, a colorless and odorless gas that occurs as uranium and thorium decay in the soil. Large regions of the country have high levels of radon gas which is dangerous especially when it’s allowed to collect in basements.
Radon 222, bismuth 214 and radon daughters stick to dust and can be inhaled increasing a person’s risk of getting lung cancer. The progeny can also attach itself to rain. That in turn can lead to false readings of Fukushima fallout if progeny present is mistakenly identified as meltdown-generated isotopes.
Not detecting radon daughters in rain in two states is significant. It means no radon was present. It also means that the radiation detections in precipitation cannot be dismissed as radon progeny when no radon or progeny existed.
The consensus among these people, and the governments of Canada and the United States as well, was that Fukushima was too far away from North America to pose any threat, let alone be detectable.
This wishful thinking continues today even though it violates the very basic foundations of sound science practiced since the Renaissance which dictate that facts not opinions, or in this case pro-nuke posturing, dictate the reality that is Fukushima fallout and contamination of the Pacific.
Meltdown deniers are not alone in making assumptions. This reporter assumed that radon progeny was indeed a factor in Radiation Station – Santa Monica readings. A light rain September 30 came in 48.1% higher than background yet was discounted even though the reading far exceeded the Inspector’s 15% plus or minus margin of error. On our stats page I wrote “[M]ost likely the overage is the product of radon progeny.”
That was wrong. Radon daughters haven’t been inflating our radiation readings simply because there is so little radon in this area to make it even possible. Automatically assuming that radon progeny was affecting the readings was a mistake. Further investigation revealed why.
The California Department of Health Services, as it was then called in 1999, conducted a yearlong investigation into the radon levels of 99 Santa Monica residences and released the results March 14 of that year. CDHS found that the radon readings were so minute that the department didn’t even suggest further testing of buildings or homes in the seaside town.
This was not news to the local officials who were well aware that the city sits in a structural depression filled with alluvium and didn’t have the geologic features that would produce radon. In addition, Santa Monica’s predominant wind direction, which dictates much of what will be in the wind, is from the ocean not from upwind land seeping radon gas.
A detailed “Radon Potential Zone Map for Southern Los Angeles County, California” created by the California Geological Survey in January 2005 confirms that Radiation Station Santa Monica doesn’t appear near any possible radon or radon daughters source.
Another common misconception about radon progeny-impacted rain is that it can double or triple background hence that amount should be subtracted from the total count. The higher the radon daughters count is, the lower the detection of any possible Fukushima fallout.
A 2003 National Tsing Hua University investigation looked at “the radon progeny concentration in raindrops as well as the radon concentration in cloud air,” according to the Taiwanese report. The upper limit of the daughters in rain is a fraction of the figures commonly attributed, according to the report. “For some circumstances the additional air dose rate due to rainfall can even amount to more than 60% of the background level without rainfall.”
Repeated non-detections of radon daughters in Santa Monica rain and Southwest Michigan snow, along with maps showing both areas to have near zero radon, indicates that any progeny from the gas hasn’t impacted detections in those areas. Radon daughters aren’t present in these areas.
The ever increasing detections of alpha and beta radiation in Radiation Station – Santa Monica HEPA filter dust point to the most logical source of the contamination: Fukushima. Knowing how hot the latest sample was – about 5.38 times background – is powerful knowledge when there are ways to mitigate against it.
“Just did a HEPA filter check although it has been running only about 8-9 days and did not have near the degree of buildup as the ones Michael C measured in his video,” posted Frank Thompson of Roanoke Virginia on Radiation Conversation February 18. “Did note a few definite hot spots on the filter however so this is DRY radiation and not rain accrued radon progeny. ‘It’s’ here all right and am glad I had gotten [a HEPA filter air cleaner]. We also sleep better now too. It’s in the filter and not as much IN us.”
HEPA filters capture more than just radiation, including radon and its daughters; they are effective against the kind of air pollution that kills nearly 10 percent of Los Angelenos according to an EPA study released last month on air quality exposure across the country. LA has the worst air in the country. HEPA filters can combat that menace.
Ironically, the need to mitigate against buckyballs and Fukushima radiation arriving in the Pacific through using HEPA filters air cleaners at home, the office and in the car will save lives from other contamination pervasive in the environment. These filters also reduce odors, reduce the severity of allergies and improve environments, a paradoxical positive effect of the multiple meltdown’s sea of goo visiting our shores while it is destroying untold numbers of marine creatures.