Friday, May 25, 2012

My New Geiger Counter Arrived

My new iRad Geiger counter arrived today via FedEx.  It plugs into the output jack of my iPhone 4.  I downloaded the free software from the Apple application store and checked it out.

I pulled out my old copy of Introduction to Radiological Monitoring, published by the Staff College of the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency, published in 1974.  I got the book in 1978, when I was the Civil Defense coordinator for Whittier, while serving as volunteer fire chief and harbormaster. 

I'm re-reading the book, designed for self study.  I lost my old geiger counter, a CDV 720, to James Acord, and it is sealed with his personal property, after his death in January, 2011.

After mounting the software and re-booting the iPhone, and reading the instructions, I did some tests.  It responded to the mildly radioactive materials in one of our smoke detectors, even clicking away.  I tested areas of the house, with the basement reading slightly higher background radiation.  The biggest readings I got were from the area around where a huge snow berm had been, and over the fire pit by the lake.

Nothing to freak out about.  It appears to work like it is supposed to: iRad Geiger counters played a role in the recent San Onofre leak discovery:
SAN MARCOS, CA, February 05, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- The recent radiation leak at the San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station in Southern California is a tough reminder of the potential dangers of living close to a nuclear power plant. The technical team from Creative Electron, a small business located 30 miles from the San Onofre nuclear power plant, has been monitoring the situation.

"We have collected thousands of radiation readings around the plant and so far we have not seen any readings above background," said Dr. Bill Cardoso, an expert in radiation detection previously with the Department of Energy and currently the CEO of Creative Electron. "As seen in the radiological map produced by our iRad Geiger device, there is no imminent danger to residents around the plant at this point in time."

Daniel Hirsch, a lecturer on nuclear policy at the University of California, Santa Cruz, recently told the Associate Press that he was concerned that the leak in San Onofre occurred with recently installed equipment. "Edison has historically not been candid about the problems at San Onofre. That lack of transparency causes tremendous distrust and increases risk," Hirsch said. "It makes one wonder about the quality assurance for the replacement equipment," he added. "This is not due to old equipment breaking but new equipment that wasn't up to snuff in the first place."

The aftermath of the nuclear disaster at the Japanese Fukushima Daiishi nuclear power plant showed us that authorities are not always willing to timely share vital information with the public. As a result, there is a growing number of people using devices like the iRad Geiger to measure the radiation levels in their neighborhoods. With Geiger detectors mounted on their cars, a large amount of data is being collected to map the true radiological environment in Japan. "Devices like our iRad transform your iPhone, iPad, and Android smartphones into very sophisticated radiation detection instruments capable of measuring and sharing information in the cloud," added Dr. Cardoso. "We are experiencing a revolution on the way nuclear public policy is implemented worldwide. The information monopoly previously held by governments and energy companies is over. The public now has the ability to measure radiation levels better than some governments can. The public will know what happens when it happens, and the public relation problems seen in Fukushima, Three Mile Island, and Chernobyl are a thing of the past."

Every government has lied to its citizens about the seriousness or radiological accidents, tests and other nuclear messes.  In these days of increasing governmental secrecy, and at a time when our own House of Representatives seeks to enshrine lying and propaganda about government conduct into our laws, only a very robust global network of citizens with mobile communication devices linked to radiological monitoring equipment can be relied upon to provide us with important information in a timely way.

That is what I like about the iRad.  Too bad they don't cost $29.99 and are available at Radio Shack.

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