Fukushima radiation myths

On the Internet there is lots of misinformation and people willing to promote ideas that have little base in reality.  After the Fukushima disaster, thousands of people around the world feared that the released radioactive materials might reach his/her country. Especially in the US, lots of people have access to radiation measurement equipment. For example, the Civil Defense program during the cold war caused a big amount of surplus geiger counters and survey meters to be available at little cost.

Soon after the disaster, people started measuring and found that after rainfall background radiation can increase quite dramatically and swipes of rain-covered cars/roofs/windows can cause a geiger counter to crackle quite loudly.

The cause of this radiation is Radon. Radon emanates from uranium present in the soil of most areas on earth. This radioactive gas decays to short lived nuclides like Polonium-218, Lead-214, Bismuth-214 as shown in this picture from Wikipedia:

After some time all this stuff decays and background radiation will go back to normal. Radon washout is a known phenomenon. For example, this study in Finland measured an average activity of 2870 Bq of Lead-214 per liter of rain, with peaks up to 42700 Bq/l! Since Lead-214 is a beta emitter it can be easiliy measured by geiger counters, as is shown in dozens of YouTube videos.

The problem is that quite a lot of people are convinced this radioactivity is caused by fallout from Fukushima. Now, fallout from this disaster has been measured all over the world with very sensitive detectors, even here in the Netherlands, but only in very minute amounts. Still, people don’t want to believe official measurements, claiming that they are being kept in the dark by the government and that the fallout is real and present in dangerous amounts.

One of these people runs this site, POTRblog.com. As conspiracy theorists go, this is one smart and articulate guy. He says things like “I’m not asking you to believe me, just look at my measurements”. He shows intricate Excel sheets with collected measurements, trying to prove that the rain contains this and that radioactive isotope based on the average half life of his samples. It is very hard, next to impossible to find out the composition of a sample without more advanced equipment, like scintillation and High Purity Germanium (HPGe)detectors.

As more and more people correctly claim in YouTube comments that people are measuring radon washout, he came up with this theory that a meltdown in Fukushima heated up the ground and caused radon to emanate from the ground in large amounts. It’s so ridiculous it’s almost funny, but I think it is quite offensive since people over in Japan are experiencing the real fallout.

When confronted with questions about why POTRblog does not invest in some equipment that can discern between isotopes he says things like:

Its unfortunate the information did not help you understand the issue, maybe this analogy will help. We are using the equivalent of a magnifying glass to make measurements; comparatively the article you referenced is a high powered microscope. The rules for use of each is different.

Another question you may wish to ask yourself is how did Madame Currie do ANY of her work without “a scintillation crystal with a multi-channel analyzer to measure the energy level of the detected counts” ?

Basically, POTRblog uses some vague analogy which is far from accurate (a scintillation detector detects gamma radiation and pulse height of gamma photons, a geiger counter counts when something, regardless of isotope and energy has ionized the gas in a geiger muller tube) and finishes with a counter-question to dissuade the commenter from further questions. Needless to say, Marie Curie didn’t need scintillation counters because she was doing very crude but revolutionary research.

POTRblog also likes to cherry pick existing research to further his own goals, spreading FUD like crazy:

Despite the high readings of 20x background some people have ridiculously claimed that these readings could be coming from naturally occurring Radon washout. Previous studies done by Klemic in 1996 show max peaks from Radon washout at 0.012 mR/hr.

So, this one research paper says it all, anything higher than that is automatically Fukushima fallout! Also, POTRblog ignores that geiger counters are calibrated in Röntgens or Sieverts using some standard isotope like Cs-137 or Co-60. You cannot measure a mixture of isotopes and claim that the measured Sv/R per hour is accurate.

To finish, some interesting critical comments from YouTube users:

POTRblog refuses to have his samples measured professionally:

slkeys99, ask potrblog why, if he thinks he’s found Fukushima fallout, he refuses to have the sample tested by a lab. And ask him how refusing to verify his claims constitutes “due diligence.”

Last year I sent him the address for a lab Arnie Gundersen recommends run by the scientist who reported hot particles in Seattle. But he refused to send a sample. Was it too expensive? No, it was offered for free. His refusal to test what he says is a threat is like refusing to report a serial rapist.

iamgoddard in reply to slkeys99 (Show the comment) 3 months ago 23

Tom from Anti-proton.com describing very precisely how all the Fukushima fallout conspiracy theorists on the internet like to roll:

What I do not understand is why the folks testing rain, big time, do not buy a real isotope detector and do it correctly? Don’t they want to know? They could prove their points with ease if they did and found fallout.

The answer: They know they really wouldn’t. So, they use the Geiger counters because it keeps the dream alive. The problem is that dream distracts from real issues, like Japan… where there is really contamination. How many suffer who could be helped if not for the distraction?

antiprotons in reply to rpur441044 (Show the comment) 3 months ago

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