As you can see, the charcoal filter did capture some significant isotope markers.
A lot of water went through this filter to get these results, so in overall terms, they are small detections. I think this proves we are getting fallout, but not as much as we expected.
U-238 produces a small amount of gamma at 50 (0.06%) & 114 (0.01%) keV and X-rays at 16 & 12 Kev. U-235 puts out a lot more gamma at 186 (57%), 144 (11%) and 163 (5%) kev and X-rays at 89 and 93 keV. This is probably the reason I was unable to detect U-238 directly at these low levels, when it has such a low gamma output? This brings us back to increasing Radon levels, as the biggest contributor to increasing background levels here.
Interestingly, I also detected this mystery isotope in a soil sample I collected around 15 km west of my location last year. Here is that test chart of that soil sample using PRA scintillator software. (In the test above Theremino MCA software was used.)
Open to positive suggestions, feedback or corrections, plus any suggestions as to what the isotope or isotopes, might be, at around 492 kev.
“Unusual soil sample chart has a radioactive isotope in it, at approximately 490 keV, which has not been identified yet. It is the second blue peak in the chart. There have been lots of suggestions as to what it could be, but no positive identification yet. If you think you know what it is, leave your suggestion in the comment section.”
In nature, uranium is found as Uranium-238 99%, Uranium-235 0.72%, and a very small amount of Uranium-234 0.005%. In a nuclear reactor using enriched refined Uranium, the percentage of U-235 is significantly increased. Enriched Uranium in light water reactors has concentrations of around 3% to 5% of U-235. The small amount of U-235 in the rain wash out means there is a lot more U-238 in the atmosphere with it, if it is purified Uranium.
Here is a test chart of Uranium ore, Uraninite. This sample was kindly loaned to me by Spectrometising. This chart has text peak markers to help you. As you can see,if it was Uranium contamination from a mine, you would expect to see significant peaks of radioactive Lead Pb-214 and Bismith Bi-214 showing up.
Radon washout detection test chart, (24th September 2012) Used a much better system to capture Radon decay isotopes in the hot rain from another storm that came through on the evening of the 24th. Using surgical gloves as the sample was hot. Wiped a paper towel over the bonnet of a car and kept turning it over and folding the paper towel swab on itself after each wipe . Then squeezed out as much water as possible.
This was then put into a zip lock plastic bag, and put into the testing chamber. It was 4x more radioactive than the last storm radon washout test sample used on the 21st. This allowed for a much more detailed spectrum to be recorded.
The first storm radioactive washout test chart in my post on the 25th ran for 2.75 hours. Radon decay chain isotopes decay quickly and the chart peaks get overwhelmed by background, so the test was stopped after 2.75 hours, and the test results saved.
Using the same swab a new test was immediately started. This time for a longer duration test. It ran for an extra 9.39 hours. So at this point the original sample had been decaying for 12.4 hours when this test was stopped and the results saved.
The short period chart shows the type of peaks you expect from Lead Pb-214 decay in Radon washout.
Short period chart,
Short period chart minus background,
That is because Lead Pb-214 decay gives out gammas in this ratio of 242 keV (7.25%), 295 kev (18%), and 352 keV (35.6%). So the highest peak should be at 352 keV. Which it is.
The longer period chart shows a prominent peak develop at 242 keV. This was unexpected and is under investigation.
Longer period chart,
Longer period chart minus background,
Conducted a longer term test on a rain swab sample taken from another rain event on the 11th October. Left it sit for a longer period of time to allow the short term Radon daugthers to decay away, and tested it again. What was detected was the longer life isotope signature of Radon decay, Lead Pb-210 at 47 keV.
What has been detected at present is a significant increase in radioactive Radon gas in the atmosphere when Northerly air arrives in the area. Other radioactive isotopes that could be atributed to the Fukushima nuclear disaster have not been detected in this series of tests.
Radon washout detection test chart, (21st September 2012) The first storm of the season came through late on the afternoon of the 21st. The wind was coming from the North / North east, and the storm came in from the South West, over the top of this northerly surface air flow.
I did a paper towel swab off the top of two wheelie bin lids. This is the first time I have done any swabs here, and actually got a hot detection with the GS (Gamma Scout Geiger Counter). The swab test GS visual peak was 0.28 uSv/hr and the data log peak was 0.35 uSv/hr.
I immediately put the swab into the scintillator test chamber, in a zip lock plastic bag. It was decaying quickly, so the chart is a bit rough. The screen shot was the test chart after 3 hours of testing. The longer I left it in the test chamber, the more the chart data was overwhelmed by background. This is because it was decaying quickly.
A rough estimate is that it was half as active after 3 hours. Seems to be a Radon decay chain as Pb-214 and Bi-214 are the main peaks, and there is no indication of any radium. The good news is that I did not detect any fallout isotopes. The peak in the chart between 352 and 609 keV is a test chamber artifact.
Byron Bay Black Mineral Sand (14th September 2012) This is a sample of 194 grams of black mineral sand from Byron Bay in Norhtern New South Wales. It is around 35x times more radioactive than our local soil samples. Wave action and sand mining can concentrate naturally occuring radioactive minerals in sand.
Glenview Soil test chart (6th September 2012) This 24 hour test was of 616 grams of soil sourced from a local semi rural area. It has the largest radioactive isotopic peak at 242keV for Lead Pb-214. Most soil tests will show this type of radioactive peak signatures it them. It is natural for peak heights to very for soil samples taken from different locations. See the other local soil test chart below for comparison, and for more detailed peak descriptions.
Under sink activated charcoal based water filter test chart (3rd September 2012) (Local background radiation was subtracted from the 24 hour test chart information to get better detail.)
An under kitchen sink water filter was pulled apart to get to the carbon core. This 600 gram carbon core was dried, and ground, into smaller pieces, and then placed around the scintillator to test it. It had been in use for the last 8 months, or longer.
It would appear there is a very small amount of soil contamination in the water supply. It is being filtered out by the water filter. Hence the peaks for the isotopes of Radium Ra-186 keV, Lead Pb-242, 295, 352 keV and Bismuth Bi-609 keV that can be found in most soil tests. The suggestion is that the peaks around, 83 and 92 Kev are from Thorium. Some local soil probably contaminates, in varing amounts, all town water supplies. There are very tiny amounts here.
Local soil sample chart has the largest radioactive isotopic peak at 242keV for Lead Pb-214. Most soil tests will show this type of radioactive peak signatures it them. It is natural for peak heights to very for soil samples taken from different locations.
Unusual soil sample chart has a radioactive isotope in it at approximately 490 keV which has not been identified yet. It is the second blue peak in the chart. There have been lots of suggestions as to what it could be, but no positive identification yet. If you think you know what it is, leave your suggestion in the comment section.
Miscellaneous Item Testing Reports
Black Fungus from Japan (17th June 2013
Black fungus material from Japan test chart I was sent this resin encapsulated sample of black fungus like material. It has reportedly come from somewhere in the Minamisoma area Japan. A contact in Japan sent a friend this sample. This is my test chart of it. For those of you who have not looked at a chart like this before. The position of the peaks in a the chart indicate what isotopes are present. This fungus started growing on the concrete, and rock surfaces in Japan after the Fukushima Nuclear disaster. It appears to be bio-accumulating Cesium.
Scintillators are less sensitive as you go to higher energy keV. The Theremino MCA software allows you to increase the magnification of the higher energy peaks. The peaks in this Theremino MCA V4.5 software chart have been energy compensated, to bring out the smaller details at higher energies. The sample very small, grams or less.
A professional lab reported test results 117 Bg Cs-137 and 58 Bq Cs-134. This black fungus material sample from Japan, contaminated with Cesium Cs-137 & Cs-134, is encapsulated in resin for safety reasons. So we don’t know how much it weighs. We are trying to find out. It may not have been weighed when it was collected. Visually, looking at the encased sample, it would be a few grams if that.
Here is a pen tip placed next to the sample, to give you and idea how small the sample is. The black center is the sample. Also, the sample does not fill up the small sample container, that is in the center of the resin encasement. The sample container is only around two thirds full.
Update on the possible weight of the Black Fungus sample from Japan. This comment was posted on a forum discussing this test.
“I’m an expert on weighing objects (sell scales, use different ones daily, some precise to .01g). Fungus in that form does not appear to hold too much water weight and would likely weigh less than a gram given the scale. If it jis thin and flakey type fungus, it may be under .25-.5g. Is it thick like a mushroom cap or more like lichen? I’ve only observed extremely thin fungi growing on concrete, and I would err on the very low side. My best guess is .3g.”
That means the black fungus sample from Japan is very, very, hot.
Test results 117 Bg Cs-137 and 58 Bq Cs-134
117 + 58 = 175 Bq x (1000 grams/0.3 grams) = 583,333 Bq/Kg of Cesium
Even if it was 10 times greater in weight 3 grams, it would still be 58,333 Bq/Kg of Cesium.
The person who supplied this sample to me, went to a lot of trouble and expense, to make this sample available to researches in Australia. I would like to thank him for that. Any comments or suggestions, regarding the results of this test chart results are welcome. There is no copyright placed on the chart screen shot, so you can copy it, and make use of it where ever you like.
Hot Jewelry Detection Special Report (20th January 2013)
A pair of imported earrings from the USA, that were to be given as a gift to a friend, where tested with a Geiger counter. It was found that some of the gems embedded in this earring design were radioactive. From the front side, and with the earrings next to each other, they tested 0.90 uSv/hr.
Originally thought the radioactivity was coming from the blue Topaz looking centre stones in this design, because there have been reports of radioactive Topaz being detected in jewelry.After removing these blue stones, and retesting the earrings, the light yellowy green stones positioned around these blue stones, were found to be the main source of the radioactivity.
Here are the scintillator and Geiger test charts results for the earrings test. These earrings were purchased as a gift for a friend, from the USA. The main isotopes detected were Thorium Th-234 and Uranium U-235.
The Thorium Th-234 is from Uranium U-238 decay. U-238 puts out hardly any gamma, but the Thorium Th-234 puts out enough for the scintillator equipment to detect it. The presence of Thorium indicates the presence of Uranium U-238, as Thorium Th-234 is a decay daughter of Uranium U-238.