A radiologist from Canada phoned the other day with an interesting experience. He ran an RM-60 continuously for over a year, with a ten second sampling rate. He generated plots showing large increases each weekend, when the accelerator was in operation, and then again, each Monday morning, when the solutions were prepared. The week long decay curves of the various solutions were plotted. The levels in the waiting room and prep room were plotted as well. With these graphs, he gave a well received talk at a national meeting of radiologists.
Over the years I have had many interesting experiences with the RM-60 radiation monitor. Approximately five years ago, we rented a section of warehouse from a company involved with ceramics. Specifically, they compound ceramic powders and sands for use by the refractory business. One of the co-owners, Wes, was a family friend.
I can remember seeing Wes on the far end of the warehouse, mixing his powders and sands, in a cloud of dust. We would say "Wes, shouldn't you wear a mask", to which he would reply "Not to worry, this isn't asbestos and there's no danger of silicosis". Later I happened to bring an RM-60 unit to the warehouse and placed it on a skid of zirconium sand from Florida. To my surprise I discovered it was radioactive to the tune of approximately 140 micro roentgen per hour.
I debated whether or not I should tell Wes about it, but decided if the roles were reversed, I would appreciate Wes telling me. They called the supplier about it and they replied "that's about the value we get in our warehouse but not to worry, our sand doesn't kick up much dust". I noticed from then on perhaps Wes was more careful about handling his powders, but about half a year later Wes started getting severe back pains. A visit to the hospital revealed cancerous tumors growing out of his spine. He died a short time later. I conveyed this story to a customer, professor at John Hopkins Medical Center. He said this type of cancer is most often associated with a radioactive contamination.
Another interesting situation developed when my sister sent a small box of smoked salmon from Seattle. This turned out to be slightly radioactive (approx. 1.5 to 2 micro roentgen per hour). At a dinner hosted by a family friend, I noticed the hostess was serving smoked salmon, which I avoided. Later she told me my sister had sent it to her. I've discovered other bits of radioactive food from the supermarket, in the form of very popular crackers and cookies from an overseas country.
An Aware Electronics dealer in Australia conveyed an interesting experience with an RM-60 laptop system. He was demonstrating the unit to an Asian customer when it was discovered the customer was radioactive. They could even trace the general area of radioactivity to the spleen. Checking around the office they found tins of radioactive fish. During the next several days, the radioactivity of the customer faded. Needless to say he purchased an RM-60 system and periodically checks his tins of fish before eating.
I enjoy checking ceramic coffee mugs for radioactivity. A set of radioactive mugs discovered was included as a gift with an order of vitamins. The mugs were made in China. I could never bring myself to drink hot coffee from them without an uncomfortable feeling that the hot liquid would leach radioactive material.
A treat is to run the RM-60 system plugged into your laptop or H.P. 100 LX when you take a jet trip. Your altitude is plotted out for you in the form of elevated background. You can spot each rise and dip of the craft. If the stewardess strikes up a conversation, she might begin to feel she deserves hazardous duty pay. You can observe the background before takeoff and observe the large increase as your craft climbs.
Tiny amounts of Radon generate daughter products that are very radioactive. They generate nice decay plots. The system is also very useful for studying the changing levels of Radon as well as finding were Radon is entering. An interesting experiment is as follows. Place coffee filter over tube of vacuum cleaner. Hold outdoor and run for two or more minutes. Next place coffee filter on RM. It is incredible to observe the amount of radioactive dust we are all breathing continuously! Check decay plot for other, man made isotopes.
Hospital workers will find it very interesting to carry a palm top PC such as the H.P. 200 LX, and RM unit in a pocket.
A customer phoned a while ago and said "I think this thing has perhaps saved my life. I was planning to build an office and bedroom in my basement but found radioactive levels 80 times higher than background". He is an electronics engineer and was very pleased with the monitor and software. Other users have found radioactive well water which releases Radon when showering. One user's background reading would increase to above 300 micro-roentgen /hr. by running the shower.
Scrap yards, medical waste companies, cancer treatment centers, retirement homes, water treatment and sewer treatment plants, universities, nuclear facilities, geologists, astronomers, earth quake predictors, high schools, hobbyists, laymen and Radon\Thoron\Nuclear Flea trackers have all found the RM-60, 70 and 80 systems very useful, rugged, easy to use and adaptable to special circumstances.
Aware Electronics / Bryan J. Boardman / Manager
Return to index page?