Radioactive Snow? South St. Louis Man Busts Out Geiger Counter, Gets Worrying Results

geiger.jpg
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Equipment for measuring radioactivity levels.
Before you jump into foot-high snow banks, make a snow angel or catch a flake on your tongue, Michael Janitch has something he wants you to see.

The south St. Louis man has been measuring radioactivity levels on his own in his back yard, and when it snows, he says, levels jump up dramatically.

"You know, getting these high of readings...80 is really high, it really is, which means there is something in the snow that's causing a radioactive return," he says while using his Geiger counter in his yard.

Those numbers he's referring to measure the number of radioactive atoms that decay per minute, measured in "counts per minute." A count of 100 per minute is considered the safety threshold, because any reading over 100 without clear evidence of radioactive material is highly unusual.

See also: Bridgeton Landfill: "Dirty Bomb" Radioactive Hazards or Irresponsible Activist Speculation?

On a nice day, Janitch's back yard measures 30 counts per minute, mainly because there are mild amounts of radioactive material in topsoil all over the world. But when the snow falls, those levels increase.

On December 14, Janitch conducted two ten-minute tests with his Geiger counter and found radioactivity levels between 74.2 and 81.4 counts per minute.

On January 2, he tested his snow again, this time reaching 59.4 and 52.9 counts per minute.

Janitch's findings have many worried that the 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors in Japan is sending radiation to the United States through precipitation.

"I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but it's obvious to me that this is bad," says Geoffrey Skoniki, who keeps his own online following writing about weather and geological phenomena. "Obviously, this is a negative effect of the Japanese Fukushima disaster. The plumes of radiation emitted from the reactors are hitting the jet stream and landing here, in my very own hometown. What else could possibly be causing this?"

Janitch, who goes by Dutchsinse online, has posted photos and video of Sunday night's snowstorm but no radioactivity measurements yet.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.


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180 comments
RiverCityOtter
RiverCityOtter

@bluedog89 Disturbing I knew as I was reading Fukushima would be thought of as the root cause. Cause that distaster made the news. Others???

jodyhatton60
jodyhatton60

I don't care whose brain is larger I will no more be visiting the sun than Japan. Those in Japan are experiencing radiation poisoning because it is poisonous. We ask did the balloon letter experiment in school to give us a physical representation of our atmosphere and weather. Sunlight in safe doses causes vitamin d to produced and us helpful. If you have a poor diet even a small amount will burn you. Fuku is not a small amount and will without doubt cause effect to all. The best we can do is be proactive and informed the only way to do that is to take measurements regularly and compare them. Fortunately, here in st Louis we have a waste issue at a local dump so more people are learning and observing and sharing. No need to argue over detail or over complicate issues, just observe record share.

cassiebanks757
cassiebanks757

The most important thing about this article is that it promotes discussion and that's what news organizations are supposed to do.  It showed that between two different readings, radiation information varied almost doubling in size.  People should be aware that nuclear accidents have consequences world-wide and the truth is we really don't know what's packed up in the condensation that comes from the sky. Personally, I'd be worried more about contaminants from the airline industry. I say this from personal experience in living under the flight path of a Navy Master Jet Base. We were told fuel dumps dispersed and caused no damage to the people living below.  Just tell that to my car's windshield - clearly THAT was a lie.  


If this article gets just one person to consider that letting their kid eat snow might not be the best thing in the world, then it's done it's job.  In my experience, "scaremongering" is a word government employees use to shame others into looking the other way.  Take all into consideration and then make your own decisions; do your own investigating (using links not tainted by being listed in the conversation) and become aware yourself.  Anyone who tries to bully you in a comment area is suspicious to begin with, regardless of how "educated" they claim to be.  

EmberQuill
EmberQuill

Next time, do your research before you start scaremongering.  Anything less than 100 CPM is considered regular background radiation.  Higher levels are quite common when taking readings on precipitation like rainwater or snow, due to trace amounts of naturally occurring Radon.


Additionally, the readings went down by around 20 CPM over the course of a month.  While 70-80 CPM is slightly higher than average (but not high enough to be worth worrying about), readings in the 50s are to be expected.

ashively1980
ashively1980

@storyleak is this legit or some yay hoo out there getting false positives? Do they know how much radiation is normally in snow? idk just??

fordiman
fordiman

Fun fact: all precipitation is radioactive in excess of background, due to the presence of dissolved naturally occurring radon.

johnkrane
johnkrane

"Rainwater can be intensely radioactive due to high levels of radon and its decay progeny 214Bi & 214Pb; the concentrations of these radioisotopes can be high enough to seriously disrupt radiation monitoring at nuclear power plants.[1] The highest levels of radon in rainwater occurs during thunderstorms, and it is hypothesized that radon is concentrated in thunderstorms on account of the atom's positive electrical charge.[2] Estimates of the age of rain drops have been obtained from measuring the isotopic abundance of radon's short-lived decay progeny in rainwater.[3]"

Maybe update the article to "RFT Blog Posts Scaremongering Story Without Doing Even a Little Research, Gets Worrying Results."

jstooks9
jstooks9

Precipitation of any kind deposits airborne and naturally radioactive radon gas close to the ground. Background radiation is increased as the radon decays into stable daughter isotopes. This effect is expected worldwide and is well understood.

williamdanny
williamdanny

"Never let us tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories"  George W. Bush, UN speech, Nov, 2001  .....  Always watch your TV, believe and obey authority 

Drum Mer M JZ
Drum Mer M JZ

^ mankind at it very best. Stay classy st.louis!

LearnMore
LearnMore

>>  Radiation from Fukushima did blanket the U.S.

Look at this radiation plume map showing it:

...youtube.com/watch?v=yuUYUJwNmag

>>  Bookmark these 3 great  websites of people checking radiation levels in their areas:

radiationnetwork dot com

netc dot com

enenews dot com

>>  Nuclear power plants release radiation into the air and water during their daily operations.  This radiation does get into the rain and snow. 

smdrpepper
smdrpepper

This is really not an issue.  You get a bigger dose of radiation while walking outside on a sunny day for a few minutes.  This is a lot to do about nothing and has nothing to do with Japan.

bluedog89
bluedog89

@RiverCityOtter Sounds like a frightening documentary or horror film - "Nuclear Winter: The Fallout from Fukushima."

dont_know2much
dont_know2much

@EmberQuill Actually the snow itself would insulate some typical ground readings, so this is credible. Also snow forms from particulates in the upper atmosphere freezing, you would have to be some kind of conspiracy theorist to state there was no fukushima related material in that mess of particulates. I believe the mans readings are credible, Background radiation has also increased globally from the disaster, so you cant just sum it all up as "background" and walk away, this is a real issue, I implore you do more research on the topic.

dont_know2much
dont_know2much

@stock1 Yea not at all, if you like to know exactly what happend i can fill you in, pretty much just meltdowns and contamination were facing. I reccommend Arnie Gundersens videos, he was very informative during the disaster.   

katamoran
katamoran

@stock1


This would be incorrect.


"Hydrogen generated from the damaged fuel in the reactors accumulated in the reactor buildingseither during venting operations or from other leaksand ignited, producing explosions in the Unit 1 and Unit 3 reactor buildings and significantly complicating the response. The hydrogen generated in Unit 3 may have migrated into the Unit 4 reactor building, resulting in a subsequent explosion and damage."


Full report here: http://www.nei.org/corporatesite/media/filefolder/11_005_Special_Report_on_Fukushima_Daiichi_MASTER_11_08_11_1.pdf

dont_know2much
dont_know2much

@johnkrane I would like to see this snow collected and evaporated, and the remaining material analysed with a spectrometer, really only way we can conclude if its Fuku-contamination based.

swan.rebecca
swan.rebecca

@jstooks9They're finding Cesium in the soil across the US. Cesium is man-made nuclear radation, and if you inhale it or eat it (through water or on your food or as it accumulates in cattle that eat it), it lodges in your body and causes cancer.

LearnMore
LearnMore

@smdrpepper

Your comment is  misleading.

Radiation from the sun is nothing like nuclear radiation.

Nuclear radiation falling on the skin can cause skin cancer.

Nuclear radiation ingested (dog or kid eats snow) could conceivably cause cancers and other detrimental health effects that might not show up for years.

People can learn a lot more about the dangers of nuclear radiation at the highly recommended site called ENENEWS.

dont_know2much
dont_know2much

@EmberQuill Also there is no "safe level" of radiation, all radiation is hazardous, stop buying the nuclear industrys' bullsh*t.

stock1
stock1

@katamoran@stock1 

Facts do not support that, in fact laughable.    Unit 3 went the day before unit 4.    and there were holes in 4...hydrogen could not collect in 4, and certainly couldnt come from 3 which was a skeleton.   The photo data found on Cryptome and detailed on my site, make that completely clear.    unit 4 was not hydrogen, and they were loading MOX, they had just replaced the shroud with a "performance shroud" to handle the higher radioactivity of MOX.      Dont be an apologist.

fordiman
fordiman

@stock1 @smdrpepper  
"Sunlight is NOT ionizing radiation"

Sunlight contains ionizing radiation, in the form of ultraviolet.

Ionizing radiation is any particle with enough energy to break a single chemical bond - that is, anything with an energy greater than about double 1.5 eV (the strength of the weakest chemical bond: O-O).  This happens to correspond to the near ultraviolet.  Ultraviolet radiation spans from there to about 40x that energy (120 eV).

This is why UV can give you skin cancer, incidentally, and why you get sunburns.

Learn a science, dude.  This is pretty basic physics.


jstooks9
jstooks9

You are definitely exposed to nuclear radiation everyday. Cosmic radiation and gamma radiation from natural sources (like concrete, sand, and bananas) are both the same nuclear radiation you do not understand.

dont_know2much
dont_know2much

@EmberQuill @dont_know2much  Some non-credible news source wont win any arguments here, can i ask what your personal area of expertise is, mine involves micronizing highly toxic materials, I'm telling you like a professor to a student, there is reason to worry, you are an utter fool for downplaying the worlds worst nuclear incident, and first large scale multi-meltdown. Heres my news article, its far more credible then that deepsea site which Ive never heard of. 

http://www.theherald.com.au/story/1848433/the-ocean-is-broken/


stock1
stock1

@katamoran@stock1 

I will be swayed if I am wrong, but you have not presented anything in such manner.     And if you do not realize at this point that the gov and media are complicit in an organized lying scheme about radiation in general and Fukushima in specific, then you are missing the boat.     

Check it out, it is very important.

katamoran
katamoran

@stock1 @katamoran


I would rather be accused of reading lies than writing lies, but that is neither here nor there. You will obviously not be swayed by information other than your own, so this conversation has deteriorated to throwing words against a wall. If you would like to provide something other than a blog, especially if it has some basis in real science and facts, I will read it. Otherwise, I feel as if I am must bid you adieu. Please remember that knowing is half the battle.

smdrpepper
smdrpepper

@stock1@katamoranActually, you being the conspiracy theorist, YOU were the one reading lies.  Thats the problem with conspiracy theories, they are entirely made up and backed by the worst possible science..aka LIES.

katamoran
katamoran

@stock1


I am not an apologist. I read the report that was written by people that have degrees in these fields, and study these things every day. What are your credentials, exactly?

fordiman
fordiman

@stock1 "The sunlight we receive as humans on the earth IS NOT IONiZING."

I'm sorry.  You're wrong.  UV _is_, in fact, ionizing.  It's how it makes ozone.  It's how it gives you skin cancer.  How can you honestly deny this?

"Its a Scare tactic of pro nukers"


Again, TIL understanding radiation safety is a scare tactic.   Seriously, man: you're the one using fear as a tool.  smdrpepper and jstooks, katamoran and myself have been elucidating the actual science on the subject, and you've been either communicating your own irrational fear, or creating it for some purpose.  It's shameful.


@swan.rebecca  "Read about Cesium 137"

ಠ_ಠ

I assure you I have.  

The amount of Cs-134 and Cs-137 released by Fukushima is on the order of a few kilograms, spread across the surface of the earth.  The measurable activity from Cs-134/137 in rain and snow more than a couple of miles from Fukushima is so much lower than the naturally occurring radon as to be irrelevant.

Read another post of mine on this article: I actually lay out the actual lifetime increase in cancer risk for Cs-134 and 137 for a given dose. 

If you're interested in actually understanding the risks of radioactivity, here's the link to the EPA's chart for translating absorbed dose to morbidity risk from various isotopes, including risk from internal emission.  This chart is in risk / pCi (additional risk per amount of stuff consumed / exposed to).

http://www.epa.gov/radiation/heast/docs/heast2_table_4-d2_0401.pdf

swan.rebecca
swan.rebecca

@fordiman@stock1@smdrpepperYou don't know what you're talking about. Read about Cesium 137. It's man-made and causes cancer and it's falling in your rain & snow thanks to Fukushima.

smdrpepper
smdrpepper

@stock1@fordiman@smdrpepperI am happy your so proud of your ignorance and stupidity, its good that your proud of something.  But your still VERY wrong.  You get sunburn BECAUSE sunlight is ionizing your skin cells.  And there is no difference between a sunburn and a radiation burn.  Same EXACT symptoms, starting with the redness of your skin which, if you stay out in sunlight long enough, can result in blisters.

This is not hard to understand, and once again, this is not being pro nuclear or not.  Its just cold, hard scientific fact.

To sum it up nicely, its as if saying a man made fire burns differently than a natural occurring one.

stock1
stock1

@fordiman@stock1@smdrpepper

The sunlight we receive as humans on the earth IS NOT IONiZING.    The small portion of UV that could ionize is filtered out by the atmosphere.    

Its a Scare tactic of pro nukers to try to pretend that because you are hit by sunlight, you might as well accept all the radiation thrown at you by nuke industry.    

Being smart enough to be stupid is not something to be proud of. 

smdrpepper
smdrpepper

@stock1@fordiman@smdrpepperNo one is promoting anything, just showing all the conspiracy theorists they are all scared of nothing.  It has been demonstrated all day just how little they actually know about science because they are freaking out about common and everyday background radiation that has been present on this planet for 4.5 billion years.  Grow up and find something that you can REALLY worry about.

katamoran
katamoran

@fordiman


"it's the energy that matters."


I see what you did there. :)

(and if you didn't intend it, that's okay, too)

fordiman
fordiman

@LearnMore @jstooks9  

"You don't seem to understand that man-made nuclear radiation is not the same as cosmic radiation."

Except it is.  It is exactly the same thing.  A gamma is a gamma - it's the energy that matters.

smdrpepper
smdrpepper

@LearnMore@jstooks9Okay conspiracy theorist, here is a breaking news story for you.  There is absolutely NO difference between natural radiation and so called "man made" radiation.  Its all one and the same.  Go look it up in any science textbook.

LearnMore
LearnMore

@jstooks9

You don't seem to understand that man-made nuclear radiation is not the same as cosmic radiation.

Man-made nuclear radiation comes from atomic tests, nuclear power plants and meltdowns like Fukushima and Chernobyl.

Man-made nuclear radiation such as Cesium-137, Iodine-131, Strontium-90, etc., can be detrimental to human life and DNA.

Man-made nuclear radiation is known to cause:

Breast Cancer

Pancreatic Cancer

Thyroid Cancer

Liver Cancer

Bone Cancer

Diabetes

Miscarriages

Birth Defects

Heart Disease...

...just to name a few detrimental effects of man-made nuclear radiation.

jstooks9
jstooks9

UV radiation is composed of ionizing photons. Nonionizing radiation (like visible light) is harmless since it causes no tissue damage. UV rays ionize skin tissue and cause cell death that results in a sunburn. Sunburns are literally radiation burns. Nuclear radiation includes gamma ray, beta particles, and alpha particles, all of which are ionizing which makes them dangerous in large amounts.

LearnMore
LearnMore

@smdrpepper @LearnMore

Sunlight radiation is NOT the same as man-made nuclear radiation.

Man-made nuclear radiation is made in nuclear power plants; atomic tests; and from meltdowns like Chernobyl and Fukushima.

Man-made nuclear radiation has names like:

Tritium which causes cancer.

Iodine-131 which causes Thyroid Cancer

Cesium-137 which causes liver and other cancers.

Strontium-90 which causes bone and other cancers.

By the way, some of this nuclear radiation was found in the drinking water and milk in the U.S. from Fukushima:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2011/04/09/radiation-detected-in-drinking-water-in-13-more-us-cities-cesium-137-in-vermont-milk/

smdrpepper
smdrpepper

@swan.rebeccaNope, background radiation is much higher than 30.  And Cesium and Strontium are known as heavy metals for a reason.  If they leak, they have the habit of sticking very close to where they are spilled, which is why radiation caused by those elements in Chernobyl has stayed fairly close to that reactor.  Plus they have a pretty good decay rate so do not last all that long.  Not every radioactive element decays like plutonium which takes hundreds of years to decay.  Anyway, they do not tend to stay in the air to come down in rain or any other precipitation.  

Plus, not all radiation is deadly.  Its all a matter of how much.  Your body actually NEEDS Cesium in order to grow your bones, but in small doses.

Sorry, but your going out of your way to foster fear.  You are acting just as bad as a conspiracy theorist wanting everyone to be scared of vaccinations and drinking water.

swan.rebecca
swan.rebecca

@smdrpepper@LearnMore 30 or so is normal background radiation. Cesium radiation from nuclear reactors is deadly, & it's accumulative. All radiation threatens your DNA, the higher the worse (all kinds), but Cesium and Strontium are taken into the body into the bone & organs & tissue & causes Cancer. Learn about Chernobyl. This is Chernobyl times 3 (though Chernobyl only vented for 10 days- Fukushima has been venting for 3 years with no end in site.)

LearnMore
LearnMore

It is misleading to compare background radiation to man-made nuclear radiation.

Man-made nuclear radiation is detrimental to human health and human DNA.

There is NO safe dose of nuclear radiation.

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