“Natural or Normal Radiation Levels”

Natural (or normal?)radiation levels,
Comment : I just heard Thom Hartmann report that radiation levels were at 47 counts per minute in parts of my state. I\’m not clear what this means; for instance, do we know what radiation levels in the world were before the atomic bombs? HOW bad is that? What constitutes “dangerous” and “ultimately fatal” ()meaning cancer – inducing exposures)? I know these answers will be qualified by many factors even I can think of, but in general how bad is 47 counts per minute? 147 counts per minute?

Thank you for your question, M.L.  We do not know what radiation levels were in the world before the atomic bombs dropped. We had no ionizing radiation at that time. Ionizing radiation comes from leaking nuclear power plants or explosions of nuclear plants or bombs.

Ionizing radiation is dangerous at any level, low or high. Constant doses of low-level radiation can still cause cancer. We know that in Portland, OR in March of 2012, our background levels in the areas called NW and N Portland were around 23-25 CPM, counts per minute. Now in NW and N Portland, these same background counts have risen to 33 CPM+/-. We have seen counts rise all over the US in the past 3 years. This is primarily from the radiation coming in from Japan’s Fukushima-Daichi Nuclear Power Plants via fallout.

The jet stream has been gathering ionizing radiation from all of the bomb tests from N America since they began. Much of that radiation stays in the jetstream and is added to by more nuclear events as they occur.

So, is 47 bad? Yes. It’s ionizing radiation. There was always terrestrial radiation and cosmic radiation present on earth from rocks and from sun. We are talking about ionizing radiation. Is 147 bad? Yes. It’s sure a lot worse than 47 CPM.  We have our “alert” at 100cpm yet we could just as easily say we are watching every # as it goes up. We take note at 60. We look at averages. When those start to rise, we really pay attention.

I hope this helps. When you own a meter, you can see over time the fluctuations on it. We have categories to help viewers w/ perspective when looking at the Average map: We have the current average, highest , Mean, Median, Variance and Standard Deviation. See the maps when you can on the home page.