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25 rems? LART! LART!! LART!!! [Jan. 26th, 2005|02:48 pm]
The leak involves low-grade radiation. Normal radiation levels are from 12 to 25 rems (the unit used to measure radioactivity). A Geiger counter at the location of the suspected leak showed a reading of 95 rems, considered low-grade, but still dangerous.
-- http://www.local10.com/news/4132756/detail.html in regards to some random piece of test equipment which uses a radioactive source breaking and leaking radiation everywhere.

Umm, no. At least, not in any city I know of. 12 rems is a fucking lot. Over the course of a year, a person is expected to absorb perhaps 360 millirems of ionizing radiation, mostly from cosmic rays and your dentist, but some from natural uranium, radon, and nucular testing. But anyway, just 5 rems is equivlent to the maxium whole body dose a radiation worker can absorb in a year. For the rest of us, (assuming we live near a source of ionizing radiation controlled by the NRC) it's .1 rem per year. (If you're on a tour at the place or something, it's .002 rem per hour, not to exceed .05 rem. Therefore, to say that 95 rems is low-grade is a bit of a lie. I'm pretty sure the LD-50 (the dose which is lethal to half of the sample) of ionizing radiation is about 500 rem. So yeah, 1/5 of what's needed to likely kill you, but still nothing you wanna be near. Certainly wouldn't call it "low level" though.

Not that any of the above really matters, since a REM is a measure of the dose of any ionizing radiation to body tissue in terms of its estimated biological effect relative to a dose of 1 roentgen of X-rays. Giger counters don't count in REM, they (usually, nowadays) count in roentgens or sieverts (english or metric!). A reading of 95 sieverts (about 21 times that LD-50 mentioned earlier) would indicate that most of Florida is in the throes of a huge disaster, and people would be puking in the streets from radiation sickness, so we'll assume it was really roentgens (Actually, it was probably µroentgens, which really does lead us to low grade, and to be only dangerous insofar as radiation is a bad thing in general to get a lot of, so minimizing it is a Good Thing.) Anyway, 95 roentgens would be fairly impressive, and slightly dangerous. Not hair falling out bad, but maybe some increased chance of cancer in a decade or two.

Ha! They updated the story and removed the "still dangerous" bit from the quote! The newly revised quote is as follows:
Normal radiation levels are from 12 to 25 rems (the unit used to measure radioactivity). A Geiger counter at the location of the leak showed a reading of 95 rems, considered low-grade.

The lesson for today? Media == Stupid; me == bored

[User Picture]From: lawrencebacchus
2005-01-28 11:31 am (UTC)
Well, I've got a question,

why is a "nuclear testing device" located in west palm beach?
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: whizistic
2005-01-28 04:58 pm (UTC)
They are actually surprisingly common. Your average hospital has probably a dozen machine sources of radiation, not counting all the radioactive dyes. Some have cores, others use generated x-rays. The ones with cores (usually some known amount of cesium) are used to calibrate detection equipment.

Outside of a hospital, there is some construction equipment that use x-rays to check welds. Lightly radioactive water can be used to find leaks in plants. (Most places use dyed water instead, though).

But, yeah, no idea what specifically freaked out in Florida.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: lawrencebacchus
2005-01-29 12:11 pm (UTC)
yeah, and there are other common sources too. Working pipeline, we use a source with iridium 192 to x-ray the pipe welds. I like to stay away from that stuff.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: whizistic
2005-01-29 02:15 pm (UTC)
fully agree on that one.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)