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View Diary: Fukushima: Stage Two (232 comments)

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  •  Just read, and try to understand. (0+ / 0-)
    depending on how representative this sample is of the surrounding soil, MAY be indicative of significant enough cancer risk to human residents to encourage alternate patterns of occupancy or land use
    Cs-137 is present at levels at least 1-2 orders of magnitude above levels expected from older atmospheric weapons tests and the Chernobyl accident in every one of these samples.
    This is Tokyo, not Fukushima. The analysis is professional. The conclusions are measured and appropriately cautionary.

    "Our answer is more democracy, more openness, more humanity." ~Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg

    by Andhakari on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 09:51:23 AM PST

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    •  Read my reference and try to understand (0+ / 0-)
      The analysis is professional.

      The so-called "analysis" is a blog entry that has survived no sort of independent review or quality control whatsoever. In other words, it's worth little more than junk. It's at the level of a high-school science fair project and shows a similar amount of professionalism. My reference is in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

      Who gives a shit about "1-2 orders of magnitude above levels expected from older atmospheric weapons tests and the Chernobyl accident in every one of these samples," since those levels are negligibly small to begin with? The measurements in your reference are roughly an order of magnitude less than those found in granite countertops that are installed in people's kitchens today.

      The conclusions are measured and appropriately cautionary.

      When you start to campaign against granite countertops due to "cautionary" principles, then I might start to take you seriously.

      Right now, you're just a joke.

      Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
      -- Albert Einstein

      by bryfry on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 10:29:31 AM PST

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      •  Go chew on your counter-top (0+ / 0-)

        "Our answer is more democracy, more openness, more humanity." ~Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg

        by Andhakari on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 10:41:38 AM PST

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      •  That's a bit over the top, bryfry- (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bryfry, cwillis

        Carl said right up front that his analysis was not done up to ANSI standards. But there was nothing wrong with it, it's just like what I used to do in the safeguards measurements I did.

        Moderation in most things.

        by billmosby on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 11:42:32 AM PST

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        •  Perhaps you're right (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          billmosby

          I'll admit that I don't like when scientific illiterates tell me to "understand" something. Thus, my response can be rather heavy handed.

          I don't have any problem with the measurements, per se. They were rather interesting, and I have no reason to doubt that the numbers that were reported are genuine. My problem is with how the results were being used (or rather, abused).

          I think that you would agree that a little context goes a long way.

          Here, the highest reading is from a gutter. This is (1) a place where mobile radionuclides are likely to concentrate and (2) a place where people are not likely to concentrate. Thus, any gamma exposure to local populations is most certainly rather small.

          When the specific activity that is observed is less than what people voluntarily install in their houses to improve the property value, I fail to see how such results are anything more than an academic exercise in seeing how well sensitive equipment can detect very small amounts of radiation.

          In other words, it's a titillating exercise in measurement and instrumentation, but it has almost nothing to do with public health.

          Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
          -- Albert Einstein

          by bryfry on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 01:10:35 PM PST

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          •  You're right about (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bryfry

            that particular sample; the only remaining consideration is whether or not various processes will concentrate the Cs to a dangerous degree in ways accessible to biological systems we may have a concern with. I have no expertise in that area, and neither does Carl Willis from the "about me" on his blog.

            From my experience at Argonne, where many generations of mice, voles, rats, owls, rabbits, deer, antelope, etc lived on and in the sage surrounding the place, the Cs from the bomb tests didn't appear to concentrate in them to any extent that the HPs I knew ever mentioned. And some of them had gone exploring with instrumentation, out of curiosity, on the desert. I remember they measured radon levels in a lava tube out there and found them to be quite high.

            The part of Carl's work that is most susceptible to error would be the calibration sample preparation. From having had some similar standards prepared by Los Alamos 10 or 15 years ago, I can say that ensuring really thorough mixing of the radionuclides in the matrix is not trivial.

            In our case, a lot of sampling was done and it took hours of mixing in a tumbler to get it uniform. On the other hand, even if you just had randomly distributed regions of high and low concentration, it doesn't introduce more than a few percent error as I recall from my preliminary work on the standards. We had to document the uniformity because those standards had to be blessed by the WIPP program because I used them to measure Pu and U contaminated waste that was headed there.

            In most other respects, Carl's measurement was pretty much identical to what I did with the WIPP waste. The only other missing link would be sample chain of custody documents.

            I agree about the potential abuse of Carl's work by those looking at it here, but without wanting to piss anybody off, I took that possibility into account and put them up here anyway because they were about the clearest example of such measurements we are likely to see here.

            Moderation in most things.

            by billmosby on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 02:23:23 PM PST

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            •  Well, thanks for sticking a link here (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              billmosby

              This has turned into an interesting discussion.

              From what I recall about cesium, it isn't all that mobile in the environment. It doesn't bioaccumulate all that much; although I recall reading that it has been shown to bioaccumulate in marine life. Thus, I would think that the greater concern should be about the cesium that went into the ocean, rather than the part that was spread on land.

              In the body, it acts much like potassium, which is in the same group on the periodic table. Both potassium and cesium are beta and gamma emitters (Cs-137 through Ba-137m), and they both tend to pass through the body rather rapidly. So basically, we're back to comparing ingestion of cesium to eating bananas or any other food that contains a substantial amount of K-40.

              In that case, the amount in the soil does not matter. It's the amount in the food that's important, and unless it is significantly larger than the amount of K-40 in common food that we eat, I can't understand why anyone should be concerned.

              The amount of cesium in the soil is important to know only to assess the external exposure from gamma radiation, which is why I chose to compare the specific activity of the soil to the specific activity (due to gammas) from a common household fixture that nobody worries about. At a rate of less than 8 μSv/year, there's not much to worry about.

              Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
              -- Albert Einstein

              by bryfry on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 05:00:36 PM PST

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            •  Hi Bill! (And a word to "bryfry") (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              indycam, billmosby

              I didn't realize you were a Kossack!  

              Anyway, at some risk of hijacking the thread, I would like to respond briefly to bryfry's disparaging judgment on my professionalism (and so forth).  First, he/she's correct about that project being on a blog(oh noes!) and about it not being peer-reviewed.  And while those are reasons to be cautious about the content, they don't logically support calling it "junk."  This little project, like everything else on that blog, was avocational (i.e. outside of my career), but I have a graduate degree in and am currently employed in the field of nuclear engineering.  By calling this a high-school project (bear in mind that high schoolers can do great science projects), it seems to be bryfry's intention to say that he/she finds something wrong with the method, and that he/she has a post-secondary educational perspective on said issue(s).  In which case, I'm all ears.  Before I published that, I did collaborate quite a bit with Steve Myers at LANL who has a career doing this kind of analysis, and followed his methodological suggestions.  Lastly, about my posting this to "titillate" the public.  My blog has a very limited, niche audience: other avocational nuclear hobbyists.  It IS about process and horserace, the minutiae of experimental design and so on, and I do not use it to flog policy views or pretend to have the answers to policy questions, like what to do about Fukushima.  See it in its intended context, and not being one of us, you'll "yawn" as you did a few posts up.  Much better than going after my professionalism.

              And finally: granite countertops, the great strawman-du-jour.  Yeah, granite--particularly the pegmatitic granites that are really pretty--is hot.  Is it an appropriate biological risk comparison, on a total activity basis, to loose radiocesium?  It does not go without saying that it is.  I don't happen to know how valid such a comparison might be, or if it's even worth making such a comparison in a discussion of radiological risks in perspective.  The comparison may be good.  It may also be nonsense.  I haven't seen a case made either way, and my guess is that nobody else has either.  On the other hand, governments (Japan, the EU, etc.) do set regulatory thresholds for source material based on models for biological risk for particular nuclides.  You can look up these numbers (e.g. for Cs-137/134, it's 10 kBq/kg in the EU, etc.).

              -Carl Willis

              •  bryfry is male . (0+ / 0-)

                "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

                by indycam on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 06:47:23 PM PST

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              •  He claims to be a phd , (0+ / 0-)

                he has a long record of talking down to people , insulting people , telling them that that are scientifically illiterate etc etc etc , so please don't take it personally that he pissed on you / your info .  

                 

                "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

                by indycam on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 07:20:42 PM PST

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              •  Thanks for this, Carl- (0+ / 0-)

                I'm sorry if by putting the link to your analysis on here I have caused you any distress, but from what you write I think I did not. As I said above, I thought it was a really good example of such work and it would show people what is involved in one type of quantitative radiation measurement with which I have (or rather had, anyway) some familiarity.

                Moderation in most things.

                by billmosby on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 07:36:43 PM PST

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              •  Okay (0+ / 0-)

                I was about to be sympathetic, but then I read this:

                Is it an appropriate biological risk comparison, on a total activity basis, to loose radiocesium? It does not go without saying that it is. I don't happen to know how valid such a comparison might be, or if it's even worth making such a comparison in a discussion of radiological risks in perspective. The comparison may be good. It may also be nonsense. I haven't seen a case made either way, and my guess is that nobody else has either.

                Huh? Are you serious?

                What did you measure? Gamma radiation.

                What did the granite countertop study measure? Gamma radiation.

                What's the difference? Aside from the peer review, the granite coungtertop study tried to estimate the effective dose to the local population. Even if your "loose radiocesium" resulted in a dose that is 10 times that of the worst granite coungtertop estimate, that's only 80 μSv/year. (Of course, this assumes that someone hangs out in the gutter in the same way that most people hang out in their kitchen.)

                Do you really think that this is a problem?

                Strawman my ass!

                This is what I mean. It appears that you haven't thought everything through. I don't have any problem with your methods or your numbers. It's the context that is missing. Your measurements might be professional, but the analysis is amateur.

                Hiding behind "regulatory thresholds" is yet more bullshit. Those are just numbers made up by bureaucrats, and often they are based on analyses that assume a constant dose over a lifetime of, say, 70 years.

                So, unless you expect to spend the next several decades of your life rolling around in this "roadside gutter debris," then I wouldn't worry to much about any adverse health effects.

                Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
                -- Albert Einstein

                by bryfry on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 09:38:07 PM PST

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                •  Maybe you have already looked at Carl's (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  indycam

                  blog; if not, you might be surprised if you did. If you have, then this response says a lot more about you than it does about him.

                  Moderation in most things.

                  by billmosby on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 10:02:48 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  For the second time... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  billmosby, indycam

                  I did not perform ANY analysis of the health risk presented by the quantities of Cs found in these soils.  So what you're calling amateur in my work is simply not there.  As has been pointed out, my piece is almost entirely about process.

                  For some reason you are eager to compare total doses from environmental radiocesium to external gamma doses from granite furnishings of typically ill-defined and highly-variable composition.  Why this particular comparison, I have no idea.  I would be more concerned about internal exposure to Cs due to concentration in food crops, surface water, or airborne routes--for which there are methods of calculating total effective dose-equivalent.  Granite is solid rock typically presenting little internal exposure unless it is exceptionally uraniferous and you have a radon problem, and again, there are methods (different and simpler) of determining dose.  I am not saying it's necessarily a bad comparison, I'm saying it's of dubious and non-obvious validity and in need of having a sound case made for it if you want to keep flogging it.  I cordially invite you to make that case on your own blog or somewhere else and email me the link to your work.  If you can muster the confidence to put your own real name on it and send me the link, I will read it and maybe find it convincing.  If you're gonna continue with the patronizing condescension here from behind the veil of your pseudonym, I'll continue to pass you off for a troll as others seem to do.

                  -Carl

                  •  I wish I had some sock puppets (0+ / 0-)

                    so I could rec that comment more than once .

                    "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

                    by indycam on Tue Nov 08, 2011 at 08:40:20 AM PST

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                  •  Whatever (0+ / 0-)

                    This is going nowhere. Look, I don't have anything against you or your analysis. I'm willing to admit that calling your work "amateur" was unfair, but it was equally unfair (and frankly, just plain wrong) to call a comparison to other sources (i.e., granite countertops) a "strawman." I guess you don't know what a strawman is.

                    In any case, we both agree that you did not do any health risk assessment. While you might be concerned about internal exposure to Cs, you have presented no mechanism by which the concentrated high doses measured in a gutter would somehow end up being ingested or inhaled and in what concentrations. Thus, we end up comparing external dose from gamma radiation, which is what I was doing the entire time.

                    I fail to follow the logic which leads you to conclude that external gamma dose from one source is somehow different than external gamma dose from another source.

                    As for trying to call me out, that is not only considered rude here ("outing" someone is a bannable offense, by the way), but it is entirely irrelevant. If you want to argue with me, then address my arguments. It doesn't matter who I am. Anyhow, I'm tired of this conversation, so I'll just let it go.

                    Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
                    -- Albert Einstein

                    by bryfry on Tue Nov 08, 2011 at 01:04:37 PM PST

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