[ RadSafe ] Personal Radiation Protection

Mark Ramsay mark.ramsay at ionactive.co.uk
Thu Mar 17 18:02:11 CDT 2011

Carry-on baggage I have experience of - machines deliver about 5 micro
Sv (0.5 mR) per pass (slightly more if the baggage is paused for another
look. Specific measurements have shown this to so too.

Much higher for hold luggage as you might expect.


-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu
[mailto:radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu] On Behalf Of Cary Renquist
Sent: 17 March 2011 22:57
To: The International Radiation Protection (Health Physics) MailingList
Cc: aaps at aapsonline.org
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] Personal Radiation Protection

One needs to wonder about the usefulness of those stickers if they are
indicating 100-250 mrad/carry-on baggage scan...
I would expect ~3 orders of magnitude lower.

Cary Renquist
cary.renquist at ezag.com

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu
[mailto:radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu] On Behalf Of Howard
Sent: Thursday, 17 March 2011 15:05
To: The International Radiation Protection MailingList
Cc: aaps at aapsonline.org
Subject: [ RadSafe ] Personal Radiation Protection

Dr Jane Orient is Pres. and Exec. Dir. of Doctors for Disaster
Preparedness, author of several books and physics teacher. Her
translation to practical action here is from many years of working with
experts like Kearney in Civil Defense.

Don't Panic over Fukushima-but Do Something
Mar 17, 2011

By Jane M. Orient, M.D.

The earth moved in Japan, and thousands of people were buried in rubble
or washed out to sea. Hundreds of thousands are homeless, and suffering
from thirst, hunger, and cold. Lacking reliable electricity, much of
industry is shut down even if undamaged. 

We don't know the total death toll as yet, but so far the score is
earthquake and tsunami around 10,000; nuclear energy, 0. But the damaged
nuclear reactors are nonetheless at the top of the news.

The tsunami affected the other side of the Pacific too; some Americans
lost their lives, or had to be rescued by the Coast Guard. The biggest
fear, however, is not the tidal wave, but the prospect that demon
radiation will cross the Pacific and rain down death. Potassium iodide
tablets are selling out. Anti-nuclear activists call for shutting down
nuclear energy.

I wouldn't criticize people for buying potassium iodide; I already have
some. If you ever really need it, you probably won't be able to get it.
Don't assume that our government has stockpiled KI or other essentials. 

There are a lot of other things that the Japanese need more right now,
such as bottled water and food. You do have some of that stored away,
don't you?

Another need is for radiation monitoring instruments. More than 1,000
RadStickers, postage-stamp sized detectors that instantly measure
dangerous levels of radiation, have been sent to Japan as a gift by an
American scientist. 

One of my personal projects is to help distribute RadStickers to
American firefighters and police officers so they will have them in the
event of a real nuclear disaster, such as detonation of a terrorist (or
North Korean) nuclear bomb. I have a RadSticker on my credit card, and
also carry a credit-card sized SIRAD (self-indicating instant radiation
alert dosimeter, see http://www.jplabs.com). In addition, I have a
NukAlert, which is a dose-rate meter that chirps like a bird if it
detects dose rates greater than 0.1 rad/hr (http://www.nukalert.com).

My SIRAD is showing a dose of between 2 and 5 rads because I usually
forget to take it out of my carry-on luggage before it goes through the
x-ray machine. It has made about 20 trips through there by now. It makes
me wonder how much the TSA agent gets from standing by the machine all
day. It is shielded, of course, but how effectively? I don't see any of
those lead aprons that x-ray technicians wear. If I worked for TSA, I'd
have a SIRAD in my pocket. Agents used to be issued dosimeters.

The main purpose of RadStickers is to prevent panic. They are not very
sensitive, so they are not going to pick up background radiation, or the
excess radiation from a load of bananas or pottery. The lowest reading
is 25 rads. An acute dose of less than 100 rads probably wouldn't make
you sick. A dose between 300 and 400 rads causes acute radiation
sickness and a 50% chance of death. There's a widespread belief that the
teeniest dose might increase your risk of getting cancer in 20 years,
say adding 1% to the 25% risk you have anyway, but there is also much
evidence that low doses are actually protective. 

For perspective, here are some numbers. At the gate of one Japanese
plant during a fire, the dose-rate was temporarily as high as 11,000
microsieverts/hr, quickly dropping back to 600 microsieverts/hr. The
level at the edge of the evacuation zone was 300 microsieverts/hr. In
the older radiation-protection units, that's from 1.1 rem/hr down to
0.03 rem/hr. The dose from one chest x-ray is about 0.01 rem and from a
full-body spiral CT scan up to 10 rem. (In this context 1 rem is about
the same as 1 rad.) If you stood at the gate of the plant for 10 hours
at the highest dose-rate, you'd get as much radiation as from the
total-body CT scan. 

Irresponsible terror-mongers have been distributing material on the
internet predicting an instantly lethal dose of 750 rads hitting western
and intermountain North America within 10 days. This is preposterous. 

Senator Lieberman is calling for a moratorium on U.S. nuclear power
plants. Actually, we have had the near equivalent ever since Three Mile
Island killed nobody, with a loss of some $10 trillion to our economy.
China and India are not considering any such nonsense.

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