Tag Archives: atoms

Are Exempt Quantity Nuclear Check Sources Dangerous?

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I am not a doctor, nor a physicist, nor any other qualified person to discuss radiation safety for others. I am merely explaining my own risks using my own sources. Keep that in mind.

Cancer Risk

Cancer occurs when cells in the body are damaged in such a way that they their genetic code is altered allowing them to uncontrollably reproduce. This damage can come from the environment and from errors in how DNA is rewritten.

Current Scientific Consensus (what the majority of scientists agree upon based upon their research and data):

1. Cancer risk rises with respect to dose.
2. There is no dose rate where the risk of cancer (from the dose) is zero.
3. Determining risks from doses less than 100 mSv is statistically difficult.

December, 2008. Williams D. Radiation carcinogenesis: lessons from Chernobyl. Accessed online January, 23 2015 at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19956182

The dose of a dental x-ray 5 μSv
The majority of small check sources are less than 10 μSv/hr
The dose of chest x-ray averages 100 μSv
The dose of a CT chest scan averages 7000 μSv
The dose of a CT chest scan averages 4,000,000 μSv

Accessed online January, 20 2015 at http://hps.org/documents/Medical_Exposures_Fact_Sheet.pdf

What are the risks of cancer from any source?

Risk of developing 1 in 2
Risk of dying from 1 in 4

Risk of developing 1 in 3
Risk of dying from 1 in 5

September 24, 2014. Lifetime Risk of Developing or Dying From Cancer. Accessed online January, 23 2015 at http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancerbasics/lifetime-probability-of-developing-or-dying-from-cancer

Final conclusion:

A third to half of us will get cancer in our lives. My sources are only a VERY tiny contributor to my risk.

☢ Radioactive Tc99m ☢

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Technetium 99m has a half life of 6.01 hours and transitions to normal Technetium 99 via the release of surplus energy in the form of a gamma photon at 140.21 keV

Statistically Valid Detections

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The basic idea comes from z-score * sqrt(2*background)

Radiation at Six Miles Up!!! – Gamma Spectroscopy in an Airplane!

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I noticed that at ground level, the dose rate was 1 or 2 uSv/hr, but after take off it dropped!!! From 1000 feet (eyeballed) to about 5,000 feet it read 0 uSv/hr on the Poli (1 or 2 CPS, max!). This was due to being too far from the ground radiation (NORM), but too low to pick up lots of background cosmic rays.

My Polimaster misses most cosmic rays and mostly picks up mostly uranium, thorium, potassium, and bremsstrahlung radiation. Neat!

By the time I hit about 15,000 feet the dose rate was rising again. By 33,000 feet the dose rate was at its peak of about 0.5 uSv/hr. I know from the spectrum that most of my dose was from high energy particles. This means my Poli misses most of this dose. lol

Ironically, the plane was probably the source of most of my low level energy dose due to high energy particles striking the hull.

As for the x-ray machine, what could I do? I told the TSA guy what the detector was and he just stared at me… so oh well lol

Collecting Uranium

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!!!The most important aspects of safety!!!

Key things to reduce exposure:
1. Shielding
2. Time (of exposure)
3. Distance

Key things to keep safe:
1. Minimize exposure if possible.
2. Always wash hands and wear gloves.
3. Never allow inhalation or ingestion of dust from samples.
4. Keep samples away from children (anyone, actually) and only bring
5. Never store samples under your bed (not sure why they do, but apparently people do this lol)

Good books:
Introduction to Radioactive Minerals – Robert Lauf

Places to buy uranium:

(eBay and Amazon have some too, but be careful!)

Places to get equipment:


Places to get a Geiger counter (including recommended models):

Model 3 + 44-9 Pancake Probe – Ludlums.com
Inspector – GeigerCounters.com
PRM9000 – GeigerCounters.com
CDV700 – VArious places (careful of bad units… may need repair and claibration)