News & Analysis
Beta graphs of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency show a sharp increase in air radiation levels across the country according to a new EnviroReporter.com radiation analysis released Wednesday.
The results reveal that numerous government radiation stations showed beta radiation activity at four-month highs many multiples above background levels of the potentially dangerous particles. According to a Nuclear Regulatory Commission document obtained by EnviroReporter.com, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) considers any substance or environment exceeding three times background as a threshold for hazardous materials handling protocols.
Sharp increases in beta radiation detected by the operable EPA beta monitors showed surges in the Pacific Northwest, Southwest, Middle West, South and along the Eastern Seaboard. Major metropolitan centers as well as more rural regional sites showed a strong upward trend while some places, including Los Angeles, actually show decreasing air radiation.
Such a wide distribution at such high levels suggests that the source of the beta radiation could most likely be the ongoing triple meltdowns at Fukushima Dai-ichi Japan which began March 11, 2011. There is no other single source that could impact such a geographically wide area with that much beta radiation. That these rises seem to correspond to each other – all happening in the last week – is another indicator that they are related.
While American nuclear reactors leak radiation accidentally and deliberately under government guidance, some of the radiation testing sites with significant upticks are nowhere near nuclear power plants. This may be the fickle finger of fission pointing at Fukushima.
Massive amounts of alpha, beta and gamma radiation have escaped the complex threatening the Pacific Ocean and terrestrial bodies worldwide. Enormous amounts of radiation are also being made airborne in Japan by the government’s policy of burning much of the 23.8 million tons of rubble from Fukushima and neighboring prefectures in municipal incinerators the length and breadth of the island nation.
The United States is downwind and down current of Fukushima and Japan. Evidence of Fukushima contamination impacting North America has been a major focus of EnviroReporter.com‘s Fukushima investigation. With over 6,000 radiation tests conducted since March 16, 2011, in concert with affiliated Radiation Stations, the experience needed to analyze this significant surge in beta radiation nationwide was already in place.
Beta-emitting radionuclides include cesium-137, strontium-90, iodine-131 and tritium according to the EPA beta radiation website. Exposure to these isotopes can cause leukemia, blood and bone cancers and introduce DNA-destroying mutations into plants and animals.
By the Numbers
The latest EnviroReporter.com Nationwide Radiation Report analyzed the “beta gross count rate” of the 44 functioning beta stations among the 124 EPA RadNet monitoring sites across the country. EnviroReporter.com began organizing the RadNet data into an easily accessible form July 9, 2013 in order to make this crucial radiation monitoring data accessible to the public, media and government agencies. Sixty beta stations were functional at that time.
Determining when a site may be experiencing reading high beta radiation goes beyond the obvious jumps in readings on the graphs. Figuring out a location’s background beta isn’t always possible either, though with experience it can be done with approximated results.
A level of 100 counts per minute (CPM) on nuclear radiation monitors like the ones EnviroReporter.com uses is a widely employed threshold indicating that there is significant, and possibly dangerous, amount of radiation. These kinds of detectors can detect alpha, beta and gamma radiation so the 100 CPM is the aggregate of these different emitter types.
So does a 100 CPM count on an EPA RadNet beta graph also function as an imminent danger threshold? According to Coos Bay, Oregon resident Craig Daniels who submits readings to RadView.com, it may an inappropriate comparison.
“Concerning your 7/24 US Radiation Report video, when (at 2 minutes in) you cite volatile air filter based RadNet beta counts/min –in comparison to (essentially) ground/roof accumulation based gamma background counts/min,” Daniels commented on EnviroReporter.com July 30, “how can there be a valid comparison? This strikes me as being “Apples to oranges”.”
Daniels was correct. A danger threshold of 100 CPM on the beta graphs EPA RadNet maintains is actually conservative as it has solely beta measurements and doesn’t include gamma emissions. Beta radiation is far more dangerous to humans because of ingestion and inhalation factors that can lead to cell and DNA mutation and cancer. Therefore the ‘danger’ level for beta detections should be lower factoring in this biological fact. Regardless, by using the 100 CPM alarm level for RadNet’s beta graphs, it gives a relative sense of safety even if it should be a lower threshold.
Beyond knowing that CHP considers 100 CPM a Haz Mat threshold, it was established in 2005 by the National Academy of Sciences that “[T]he scientific research base shows that there is no threshold of exposure below which low levels of ionized radiation can be demonstrated to be harmless or beneficial.”
EnviroReporter.com uses both indicators of dangerously high beta radiation: triple background and/or readings above 100 CPM. This rather lengthy preceding explanation was in order to provide readers and viewers the proper context for this invaluable taxpayer-funded data.
Record radiation highs were detected across the country from the Deep South north to Alaska, west from California to New England. Montgomery Alabama hit its highest reading since May 26 with a robust 250 CPM August 4. Fairbanks Alaska hit a four-month high with about 137 CPM August 4 which is a strong uptick for the station.
Tuscon Arizona was over 310 CPM August 4 remaining quite active as was Little Rock Arkansas hit over 200 CPM in the last week trending upward in an area used to 20 CPM background. Ten times background is over triple the three times background danger threshold.
Fresno California soared to 540 CPM August 1 and looks to be trending aggressively upward. Fresno’s normal background, when it used to have one, was between 40 to 50 CPM. Bakersfield California to the south 170 CPM August 5 while the Los Angeles beta graph’s stopped in March but the gamma remains normal.EnviroReporter.com‘s regular test for beta radiation in HEPA filter ionizer dust showed lower ionization August 5 for the west Los Angeles Basin. A test of Pacific waters off of the Los Angeles neighborhood of Playa Del Rey registered at background August 2 as did kelp collected and tested on the beach.
San Diego remained very active but off its highs of 220 CPM August 1 which is a dozen times background for the city. Why San Diego and not Anaheim and Los Angeles is experiencing this increasing beta radiation is unclear. An upcoming radiation investigation of San Diego could possibly explain the new highs.
Hartford Connecticut was trending upward according to the report hitting a four-month high August 5 of 130 CPM which is over six times its normal background. Washington DC also notched a four-month high August 5 with 160 CPM. Ft. Wayne IN continued a radical trend upward hitting a four-month high August 4 of 450 CPM which is over a dozen times background.
Worcester Massachusetts blew through 235 CPM July 28 and hit 152 CPM August 4 while Grand Rapids Michigan hit 345 CPM July 28 but settled to ‘just’ 200 CPM August 5. St. Paul Minnesota went up to 300 CPM in the last week. Lincoln Nebraska hit a four-month high August 3 with 360 CPM.
Concord New Hampshire hit 220 CPM August 5 nearly tying a four-month high. Raleigh North Carolina hit 170 CPM July 24 and then the beta graph cut out. EnviroReporter.com‘s Radiation Station North Carolina recorded rain hot with beta radiation 6.9 times background July 21. Toledo Ohio beta radiation went through the roof right at the same time as their drinking water crisis eased with the beta peaking at 370 CPM August 5, a four-month high.
Corvalis Oregon hit 145 CPM July 26 and kept going up hitting a four-month high August 4 with a whopping 235 CPM in a place that has a background of under 20 CPM. That is nearly two dozen times background and eight times the three-background hazard threshold.
Amarillo Texas went literally off the chart August 3 blasting through 1,000 CPM. Amarillo consistently has had some of the highest radiation readings in the United States for at least the last thirteen months. Dallas was 270 CPM August 4 in the Lone Star State that has high reading across the breadth of it. But it is not alone. Madison Wisconsin hit a four-month high August 4 nearly topping 500 CPM.
While these recent EPA RadNet readings are alarming, not knowing what is actually transpiring beta radiation-wise is a more troubling prospect. People in hot zones can mitigate against beta radiation in the air using ionizers with HEPA filters while indoors.
Folks in areas not monitored are left wondering whether they should even be concerned. Considering the scope of the recent readings, the whole country might consider itself a potential hot zone.