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from 3/18/11 to 4/9/11, listed in reverse chronological order:

Update: 4/9/11, 7:00 A.M. - Recent Radiation Alerts

On the afternoon of April 8th, a Monitoring Station located in Long Island, New York triggered a Radiation Alert as high as 4,698 CPM for the period of a few minutes.  Our Network immediately went into action using its built-in Chat forum to determine what was causing the Alert.  The Long Island station was immediately responsive, indicating that an after market A/C power supply for its Geiger counter somehow caused the surge in readings, and as soon as the station recognized it had unwittingly broadcast a high Radiation Alert over the Network, it immediately disconnected.  After a few minutes, the station resumed monitoring at normal levels.  So another false Alert.

More interesting, though, was an elevated radiation level detected by yet another Colorado station on the afternoon of April 7th.  Study the Graph at left.  Over about a one hour period, Radiation levels at this station moved up from about 30 CPM to 42 CPM and held there at a sustained rate for a number of hours. For context, this station is located in Denver, at a mile high elevation, and is running the Radalert 50 Geiger Counter which uses a fairly standard Geiger-Mueller tube with a lower count rate than the Inspector.  This detector is set up on a window sill, to monitor outdoors.

This pattern is eerily similar to what happened with the Evergreen, CO station on March 29th.  See the graph at right, for comparison, (you can read about that below - 3/31 Update).  Both of these Monitoring Stations are on the Front Range of the Rockies, and if there is any consensus on the cause of these elevated Radiation levels, it is that the jet stream interacts with the high altitude of the Rockies and convective currents where the mountains give way to the Great Plains, and "release" radiation which falls to the land below, and that this could be radiation drifting over from Japan.  But again, this is only speculation - we don't know.

Radiation Levels in Japan - A Monitoring Station that will soon be joining the Radiation Network sent me a link to a You Tube video filming the journey of some brave Japanese reporters all the way to the Fukushima plant, with radiation detectors mounted on their car dashboard:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yp9iJ3pPuL8&feature=player_embedded

If their readings are reliable, they demonstrate how far radiation from a partial meltdown can travel.  I list below a sampling of their readings in uSv/hr, along with conversions into uR/hr and CPM so that you can see how these readings would relate to our National Radiation Map:

Proximity (miles) uSv/hr mR/hr uR/hr CPM
  micro-Sieverts/hr milli-Roentgens/hr micro-Roentgens/hr Counts per Minute
Normal Background 0.12 .012 12 12 to 36
19 1.10 .110 110 110 to 330
12 1.30 .130 130 130 to 390
10 2.50 .250 250 250 to 750
9 6.50 .650 650 650 to 1,950
5 5.00 .500 500 500 to 1,500

We in the 48 states are 5,000 miles away from Fukushima, so we are seeing little to no elevation of environmental radiation counts from the disaster.  But the point is this - if a similar incident were to occur in the US, God forbid, the column on the right shows what CPM levels you would be seeing on the National Radiation Map from those Monitoring Stations located in similar proximity to a Fukushima like event.  You can observe that even 19 miles away, the corresponding CPM level is well above our Map's Alert level of 100, so extrapolating from this, I suspect that even 50 miles away, some of our high count stations would be triggering Alerts. This goes directly to my point below about the Relevance of our Radiation Network - see update from 3/20/11.

Update: 4/5/11, 8:45 A.M.  Contamination detection

Much focus lately has turned to the issue of possible contamination of water, milk, and food in the US, and how our network reporting of radiation levels relates to that.  I have addressed this general issue at length in previous updates below, but briefly, our detectors monitor environmental radiation, which could be restated as radiation present in air, generally.  If our detectors were in reasonable proximity to a radiation leak exposed to the air, and logistically positioned outdoors (as some of them are), then contaminants that ultimately could find their way into rain water or food sources would be potentially detectable.  But since the 48 states are 5,000 miles away from the Fukushima leak, which is not in reasonable proximity, where does that leave us?

Well, we must remain vigilant in monitoring environmental radiation levels, but as to determining if our water, milk and food are contaminated, we should rely partly on authorities that have specialized equipment to measure down to minute levels of contaminants.  Having said that, for those of you that have your own radiation detectors, and are concerned about contamination, I would offer these procedural guidelines, recognizing first that I am no expert, so my approach is instead based on some understanding of Geiger counters and radiation detection, and then a lot of common sense.  Let's first review some basic tenets:

bulletMost interested people have learned this by now, but it is worth repeating.  Even in the absence of Fukushima or the nuclear power industry, and even going back in time before the Industrial Revolution, men and woman have been, and are being bombarded with radiation as we read and write this, which is of mostly cosmic origin, and this "background radiation" represents almost all of the radiation count levels being detected on the network.  And since the human species has not only survived, but even thrived amidst this background radiation for thousands of years, a reasonable person (but not everyone) might conclude that this normal background radiation is not harmful.
bulletBackground radiation is a random event, and this is why the CPM levels on the Monitoring Stations jump around erratically.  This fact is the basis for a cautionary note.  The single most common mistake in radiation detection is to confuse a spike in background radiation with radiation from a specific object.  How do I know this?  I am guilty myself - when introduced to Geiger counters many years ago.  Therefore, when using a Geiger counter that is sensitive enough to detect background radiation in the first place (not all are), you must draw conclusions about potential radiation from a specific object only on the basis of a sustained reading in excess of background.
bulletOne must be in much closer proximity to a radioactive object to get a detection than one would normally think.  As an example, I keep a high grade sample of radioactive ore in my office (my choice only, not recommended for anyone else) for testing purposes.  Now, that sample is a pure crystal of Uraninite about an inch around, which is highly radioactive, by definition, and even with that, I must approach to within about 2 feet before my counter starts to register.  So the lesson from this is that when scanning objects such as milk that are not radioactive, by definition, but could contain contaminants, the rule is to scan as close as possible without touching (the latter, to avoid potential contamination of the instrument itself).

Okay, now that we have covered those basic tenets, let's get down to the specific details of checking for contamination.  Again, a reminder, and here is my disclaimer - these are only procedures that I would follow, and are not represented as the best or most thorough, or foolproof, etc. and I would urge you to do your own thinking on these matters, and borrow ideas from others.

bulletFirst, citizens could ask their local water companies, who typically report on water quality annually, to update tests for, and report on radioactive contaminants since the disaster.
bulletSecondly, you could do a scan of any filtration systems associated with your individual water supply.  If contaminants are present, they might be concentrated in filters, and thus any detection potential would be enhanced.  Not that any or every water filter would be promoted as filtering out any or some or all radioactive contaminants, but I would scan the filters anyway.
bulletWhen scanning the filters, remove any housing that could otherwise shield radiation, and orient or aim any "window" on your Geiger counter tube directly at the filter.  For context, the more sensitive Geiger-Mueller tubes incorporate a side or end window constructed of lesser shielding material than steel, to allow penetration and therefore detection of weaker forms of radiation (yet potentially dangerous if ingested), including Beta and Alpha (the latter of which requires an end window constructed of a thin sheet of Mica, typically).
bulletThird, beyond scanning filtration systems, another technique to check water, which would apply equally to any other drinkable fluid to include milk, is to pour the liquid into a shallow container of broad surface area and do a scan.  Make sure the liquid container itself is not made of stone or metal which are not generally radioactive, by definition, but could be weakly radioactive and distort the test - plastic or glass are probably best.  For the same reason, make sure the liquid container is not sitting on a stone or granite countertop or floor.
bulletStart with a "momentary scan" by slowing moving the detector across the entire surface area of the liquid, being on the lookout for a sustained increase in the radiation level, beyond background, evidenced by a sustained increase in the frequency of any audible clicking or beeping, along with a sustained increase in the numerical level of radiation shown on any visual display.
bulletIf the momentary scan does not reveal any radiation from the liquid, and if you want to be more thorough, then you can resort to a "timed count" if your detector has a setting for accumulating radiation counts over time, and where you fix the position of your detector immediately over the liquid.  Refer to your Operating Manual for specifics.  If you choose to do a timed count, I would recommend a sampling period of at least 10 minutes, and even longer depending on how thorough you choose to be.  The idea is that if a timed count of the liquid, conducted for say 10 minutes, shows a higher accumulation of radiation than does a similar timed count of normal background radiation itself when removed from the liquid, then that test reveals a weak radiation emission that the momentary scan missed.
bulletScanning food for potential contamination could be done in the same manner, starting with a momentary scan, and resorting to a timed count depending on how thorough you wish to be.

As to whether your radiation detector is "good enough" to reliably check food and water for contamination, I would answer in this way:

bulletAlmost any radiation detector with reasonable sensitivity is better than none.
bulletA detector that incorporates a Mica end window for Alpha detection is better.
bulletA detector that uses a broad diameter, pancake-style counting tube, with thin Mica end window, is best, such as the Inspector Geiger counter.

Finally, I lack the expertise or knowledge to say what radiation level is too dangerous.  Only you can establish your personal threshold, with guidance from authorities that do have that expertise.

Update: 4/3/11, 5:00 A.M.  Nuclear Sites

The Nuclear Sites shown on the National Radiation Map (as well as on the Global Map for those of you who have the underlying software), are drawn from a number of sources, but in all cases represent possible sources of radioactivity.  Here are the primary categories:

bulletNuclear Power Plants - constituting the large majority of sites on the map
bulletAtomic Bomb Detonation sites - including Nevada Test Site, Hiroshima, etc.
bulletNuclear-based Military sites - Missiles, Bombers, Submarines, Aircraft Carriers
bulletNuclear Weapons Storage, Assembly (and Disassembly) - as in Hanford, Washington
bulletNuclear Weapons Design - done by various National Laboratories
bulletUranium Enrichment - such as Oak Ridge, Tennessee, or Esfahan, Iran
bulletNuclear Waste Depository - as in Yucca Mountain, Nevada
bulletUranium Mining districts - located in Moab, Utah, for instance
bulletNuclear-powered Icebreakers - a small, but interesting category - the Russians operate a fleet of these out of the port of Murmansk

Some of you have pointed out that certain Nuclear Power Plants have been decommissioned.  This is true - our database is 6 years old, and will be updated at some point.  Others have introduced us to Nuclear Sites we were missing, including Idaho National Laboratory (nuclear research) and the Gasbuggy Project in New Mexico, the site of an underground nuclear detonation to test the theory of more easily extracting oil and gas resources.  Thanks to you alert viewers for bringing those sites to our attention.

If you know of a Nuclear Site that should be in the database, feel free to let us know, but make sure it is verifiable, and list the credible source for that information.

Update: 4/1/11, 6:00 A.M.  Many of you have asked that we "separate" the clustered Monitoring Stations in Colorado.  Again, please review the guidance we have provided in the comments below, but in sum, the single web page of the National Radiation Map is but a tiny bit of the potential information available, and rather than do unlimited postings of everything, we ask that if you want more detail, you purchase the underlying Software that runs the Network.  Proceeds from those sales allow us to bring you the Radiation Network in the first place.  For example, that Software has a PIP (Picture in Picture) feature that creates a Map Inset of a busy area, while retaining display of the larger USA Map so you can keep an eye on both.  This "snapshot" was taken of the Colorado stations this morning.

Update: 3/31/11, 4:50 A.M.  Questions continue to pour in about the relatively high readings in Colorado.  Up to this point, we have noted that some of the Monitoring Stations in Colorado are at high altitude where the lesser atmospheric shielding of cosmic radiation leads to a higher background count.  But something else happened on the evening of March 29th which caused an elevated reading at a station in Evergreen, Colorado.

For context, this station is at 7,500 feet, and running the Inspector Geiger counter built around the nominal 2" diameter pancake tube that yields a higher count rate than a standard tube.  I believe this detector was set up indoors at the time.  You can observe in the graph at right that readings began rising early evening, peaking at around 9:00 or so, and even surpassing the 100 CPM Alert level from time to time.

We don't know what caused this.  Absent further analysis, possibilities include the passage of a radiation laden "cloud"?, at just that location and altitude, because two other nearby Colorado stations did not register the same elevated readings.  Other explanations include a malfunctioning detector? (although readings subsided to normal levels by morning), or electromagnetic interference? from ham radio operation.  But we don't know.

For those of you asking, "Where can we get one of the graphs?", those are generated by the underlying GeigerGraph for Networks software that makes the Radiation Network possible, and any participating Monitoring Station has access to Remote Graphs for every station on the network, as well as Spreadsheets of minute by minute Radiation Count data.

Update: 3/29/11, 6:15 A.M.  Radiation Monitoring by Government vs. Private Citizen

So what can we take away from yesterday's incident of the false alert?  It seems to me that we must conclude that there are tradeoffs in the ways that we monitor radiationGovernment operation of monitoring stations is under tight and direct control, but at the same time leaves open the question of transparency when it comes to the Government's understandable position of walking a fine line between keeping the public informed while averting panic.

Private citizen radiation monitoring networks like ours, in contrast, are partly dependent on the integrity of its individual Monitoring Stations, but on the other hand, the reporting of radiation levels is quite transparent.  So if we as citizens are to do our own monitoring of radiation, which is a very sensitive subject matter, and then report that data to the public over a network, there are certain guidelines that wisdom dictates we must follow:

bullet There still must be some degree of central control.  That includes being discriminating in issuing licenses to Monitoring Stations in the first place, to minimize the chance of admission to the network of those bent on mischief.
bulletIt then follows that the network must retain the ability to remove any Monitoring Stations that abuse their privilege.
bulletThe network should provide for multiple means of communication between client Monitoring Stations and the Network Server, along with the ability for real time discourse among Monitoring Stations through Chat and the like.

In summary, this is a fledgling Radiation Network, and we are in uncharted territory, so we must continue to learn from experience, and refine the network over time.  Dealing with the false alert from yesterday was a small test for us.  Generally, I think that we passed the test and took appropriate action to maintain the integrity of the network, while keeping the public informed of the facts.

The other positive take away from the incident is that it demonstrated our Radiation Alert system.  Whether you were a participating Monitoring Station or a passive viewer of the National Radiation Map online, from hundreds or even thousands of miles away, you knew within just 1 minute of an elevated radiation condition, along with the location of the alert, and then the actual level of radiation being detected.  Think about it - that's pretty amazing!

Update: 3/28/11, 8:40 A.M.  Here is follow up on the Radiation Alert from this morning.  The Monitoring Station in question is located in Huntsville, Alabama.  It triggered alerts based on radiation levels averaging in the 100 to 150 CPM range.  We tried to reach the station through a number of different means, including via the Chat forum available from within the Radiation Network, but to no avail.  So after a half hour or so, we contacted the Huntsville Fire Department and recommended they take independent radiation readings in the vicinity of the Monitoring Station.  After all, Huntsville, AL is located about 30 miles from two different nuclear power plants, so we had to take this alert seriously.  Fortunately, their readings showed no elevated radiation levels above normal background.  After some time, radiation levels from the Monitoring Station in question dropped first to 0, then resumed at normal levels.  But still receiving no response from the station, we disabled it, essentially removing it from the Radiation Network.  We want to thank the Huntsville Fire Department for their timely support in this matter.  I will write more on this incident later.

Update: 3/28/11, 6:05 A.M.  Something triggered a Radiation Alert this morning at a Monitoring Station in northern Alabama.  We are trying to track down the reason behind it.

Update: 3/27/11, 6:00 A.M. - Logistics of Monitoring

A number of emails have asked about the logistics of the compatible Geiger counters.  First of all, it should be stated that the models of detectors contributing to the radiation count over the network are not waterproof, not intended for permanent outdoor installation, and owners should be aware of any related manufacturer warranty issues.  Having said that, some of our Monitoring Stations have improvised outdoor or semi-outdoor positioning of the detectors to protect them from the elements, while exposing them to that environment to better "sniff" the air, and all this while remaining connected by the data cable to a protected computer with an Internet connection, and then running the software that underlies the Radiation Network.  This logistical feat!!! is probably an optimal setup.

All of the compatible Geiger counters contributing data to the Radiation Network detect X-Rays, Gamma rays, and Beta radiation, and almost all of them in current use can also detect Alpha radiation by virtue of a Geiger-Mueller tube with a thin mica end window.  Furthermore, about half of the detectors contributing data are the Inspector model built around a "pancake" style tube with a nominal 2" diameter surface area, putting them in the ultra-sensitive category.

X-Rays and Gamma rays are quite strong and can pass through the walls of most structures, so even indoor monitoring is therefore relevant.  In contrast, Beta and Alpha radiation are relatively weak, so to detect those classes of radiation in the environment, the detectors would generally need to be positioned outdoors to better "sniff" the air.  I might add that, for those stations that typically monitor indoors, you can disconnect periodically to sample outdoors preferably using a "timed count", to either confirm indoor readings, or to reveal any higher count that is apparent from directly sniffing the air.

Emailers have asked whether these Geiger counters detect plutonium, etc.  In answer, these all purpose detectors lack the ability to discriminate by radioactive element or isotope, and instead simply detect and quantify only a total radiation count of all X, Gamma, Beta, and Alpha radiation present.  And since these radioactive contaminants emit an array and combination of Alpha, Beta, and Gamma, they are theoretically detectable, and in practice are in fact detected if in strong enough energy levels.  Just keep in mind that radioactive detection generally is a function of the strength of the radioactive source combined with the proximity of the detector to that source.  Continue to rely on the EPA or other sources for information on specific radioactive contaminants.

Update: 3/23/11, 5:15 A.M.

Until some Japanese Monitoring Stations come on line in the Radiation Network, I received a verbal report from a customer of ours from Japan, living in Kawasaki City, a southwest Tokyo suburb, which puts her about 150 miles from the ailing Fukushima nuclear power plants.  She reported a radiation level of .16 uSv/hr, which equates to 16 uR/hr, and that levels have been rising a little bit.  Since normal background is perhaps 12 to 15 uR/hr, depending on location and altitude, her levels are not too bad at that distance.

Update: 3/20/11, 11:30 A.M.

bulletRelevance and Perspective - While most visitors to the Radiation Network are generally glad to find any actual radiation count data in the US, some have questioned the relevance of the data provided.  After all, there is just a handful of Monitoring Stations, we have no breakdown of Alpha, Beta, and Gamma radiation, and no information on Iodine, Cesium, and Plutonium contaminants, and no easy way from the site to discern potential trends in rising radiation levels (the latter item is a fair point which I discuss separately below).  Furthermore, while other sources indicated that radiation had reached California, this network doesn't seem to have detected that!  These criticisms are all true.
bulletBut let's take on some perspective here.  Our Monitoring Stations, as mentioned yesterday, do not use specialized detectors - they are designed to return only a Total Radiation dose rate, certainly including Gamma rays which can pass through the walls of most structures, and also including Beta and Alpha radiation in the atmosphere in those cases where the detectors are setup outdoors or in a screened window, where they can better "sniff" the air, as some of our Monitoring Stations do, or as I did with my two models of detectors yesterday morning (see below).
bulletSo with all of these points, does that mean the Radiation Network data is irrelevant?  The answer is an emphatic No! because if the data were irrelevant, then so would be the radiation detection data of a First Responder in NYC, because they use essentially the same detectors as we do.  All we have done with the Radiation Network is to have found a way to link such detectors together across the country to create some sort of National Radiation Map in real time, and then made that data available to the public - nothing more and nothing less.
bulletSo then, what is the conclusion that can be gleaned from the data on the Radiation Network?  Well, our Monitoring Stations have not yet registered a big, or even perceptibly significant "Gamma event" from any radiation drifting over from Japan, so we can take a little solace in that.  You know, there is an interesting paradox in the field of radiation monitoring.  On the one hand, we might use a Geiger counter to perform a radiation scan of a suspected object or situation, and in a weird sort of way, we want a "hit" to confirm our fears, but on the other hand, if we don't get a detection, some of us are understandably a little disappointed.  But in that case, of course, we should instead breathe a sigh of relief.
bulletSo back to the issue of relevance, I dare say that if our stations were within some reasonable proximity of, instead of 5,000 miles away from, a similar nuclear accident closer to home, God forbid, you would be seeing a major Gamma event over the Radiation Network, with CPM or uR/hr levels not in the 10's or 20's or 30's, but probably into the 100's or 1000's.  In that case, the data from the Radiation Network would probably be deemed quite relevant by all, including current skeptics.  So I think this controversy comes down to a matter of degree.
bulletHaving made this defense, we must not conclude that there is no radiation risk.  It is probably helpful to think of the Radiation Network as a "First Responder" to any broad indication of radiation danger, and continue to rely on the EPA and other sources as the "HazMat" teams using specialized equipment, to advise us on any danger from specific contaminants and the like.  And meanwhile, we should continue monitoring because this situation is ongoing, and even beyond that, for whatever comfort the Radiation Network may provide.
bulletI mentioned above my agreement with the constructive criticism of adding some sort of trend or moving average data for the Radiation levels, to better alert us of an incoming "cloud" or "plume", and while that data is available to those who use the underlying software, I do think it would be a very pertinent addition to the Radiation Map.  So we'll work on that.  Thank you very much for the suggestion!

Update: 3/20/11, 8:15 A.M.

bulletSome housekeeping first - We uploaded a Map of Europe that you can link to from the bottom of the main USA Map page.  Europe is live, although we have only one intermittent Monitoring Station running there right now.
bulletDetailed Data - Requests continue to pour in for data on the identity of Monitoring Stations, the ability to separate overlapping stations (which can be done through the Picture in Picture feature in our Software), a detailed list and identity of Nuclear Sites, and that some are decommissioned, etc.  I have addressed this point in my original Message below, but to review, what you are seeing on RadiationNetwork.com is only 1% of the information and capability available versus the resources under your control if you actually had a copy of the real software, GeigerGraph for Networks, that makes all of this work.  The sales of that software provide the funding that enables us to bring you Radiation Network.com.  You will notice that our web site here has no distracting ads or pop-ups - we just sell the software instead, you know, the old fashioned way.  So here is the link:

http://www.geigercounters.com/NetworkVersion.htm

bullet

And if you have the Software itself, loaded on your local computer, you will seldom need to use RadiationNetwork.com (that's just for passive viewers), and would seldom want to because at that point, you begin managing the massive amount of information and capabilities through the Software interface.

Update: 3/19/11, 2:30 P.M.

bulletMany emails this morning have pointed out that the Radiation readings reported by the EPA from many of their stations in the West are much higher than those on the Radiation Network, and asked that we square the EPA readings with those from the Radiation Network.  I will study the EPA data in more detail, but at first glance, the explanation for the difference goes back to a couple of points I made in my earlier update below:
bulletWhen reporting radiation readings, units of measurement matter.  The EPA readings are apparently in CPM (Counts per Minute), but CPM levels are not standardized, and instead depend upon the design of each model of detection instrument.  So readings in CPM are not comparable except to historical readings made by the same instrument.  I am hoping that the EPA detectors are something much more specialized and sensitive than the models typically used by our Monitoring Stations.  For example, if a "counting tube" has a larger physical size and greater surface area, then it follows that the count rate, measured by the number of radiation particles that it "captures", will thus be higher.
bulletIn contrast, the type of Geiger counters typically in use by Monitoring Stations in the Radiation Network are best described as personal radiation detectors or of the type commonly used by first responders, and in many cases, the exact same model in use by the NYC Fire Department.  These counters are built around a fairly standard sized "counting tube", and in many cases better, but having said that, are obviously sensitive enough to detect background radiation, and them some.
bulletSo bottom line, the question for the EPA is can their CPM measurments be converted to a standardized unit of measurement, such as uR/hr, in the same way that the CPM levels on our Radiation Map are roughly equivalent to uR/hr as well, subject to the qualifications I cited below.
bulletAs a double check on my reasoning here, I stepped out of my Prescott, Arizona office this morning with two different models of Geiger counters, to sample environmental radiation levels, and found the total level quite normal for our mile high altitude, in the 15 to 20 uR/hr range.  Interestingly, this mimicked the readings I was getting from a similar detector indoors in my office.
bulletIn summary, this is not to say that the environment outside my office here lacked any radioactive contaminants at all, but their presence was not detectable by just a general sampling of the environment.  We will, and we should leave it to the EPA to break a total radiation level down to its constituent parts.

Update: 3/18/11, 6:00 A.M.

bulletRadiation Levels - As of this morning, background radiation levels from our stations on the West Coast still look pretty normal, when disregarding the randomness of background radiation in the first place.  As an indication of foreign radiation moving into the environment, such as a gamma laden cloud, keep on the lookout for a sustained increase and trend in background levels over time, to where multiple stations start averaging first in the 40's, the 50's, and 60's to 100 CPM range.  Keep in mind that spikes and troughs in readings for any one minute are not relevant - only average readings at a sustained rate are meaningful.
bulletYou have responded! - We asked you to set up your own Monitoring Station, and the response has been overwhelming, and you are already seeing new Stations popping up on the map.  Unfortunately, we have sold out of Geiger Counters for the time being, and that is now the limiting factor.  Until we are re-supplied, I can tell you that there are already tens of thousands of compatible Geiger counters already out in the marketplace, from acquisitions over the last 20 years, that are in the hands of your local Fire Departments, or collecting dust in drawers in homes, businesses, and universities.  So review again the compatible models listed on the Map page, and if you know someone in that category, see if they can't put those detectors to work.  We can supply the required Software and Data Cables to "plug in" to the Network.
bulletMedia Coverage - Our work and your interest is paying off.  Just in the last two days, we have seen media coverage from, and done interviews with everyone from the New York Times to Fox News, along with a myriad of talk shows, alternative media, local press, and TV network affiliates. At a time when our government continues to assure of us of no radiation danger, yet fails to follow that up with actual collection data, the media is noticing that our network is one of the few resources where concerned Americans can obtain data on actual radiation levels in at least some locations in the US.
bulletAlert Level - You are an astute group!  A few of you already noticed that we recently lowered the Alert Level for the Map from 130 to 100 CPM.  It was probably too high in the first place.  The optimal setting for a Radiation Alert is one that is not so low as to invite false alerts from momentary spikes in radiation, yet not so high as to defeat its original purpose.
bulletStations disappeared - Why did the Monitoring Stations in NM and TX disappear, you ask?  It's like the TV in your family room - it's always there, but where some people watch TV all day long, others turn it off for awhile.  We can't control that - running a radiation Monitoring Station on our Network is as voluntary as watching TV - nothing sinister about it.
bulletHigh readings in CO - The Radiation levels on the stations in Colorado are higher on average than the others because some are at elevations as high as 8,000 to 9,000 feet, where there is less atmospheric shielding from the cosmic rays that make up most of what we call the background radiation count. As an example, I have taken a Geiger Counter on a passenger plane flight and recorded readings up to 800 CPM at 40,000 feet!  So those high readings are quite normal for certain Colorado stations.
bulletBakersfield - Due to some confusing news coverage, a report and/or rumor circulated that one of the Monitoring Stations on our Network recorded a spike or reading of 222, or something like that (I don't know what unit of measurement was supposed to accompany that number.)  Anyway, the story is falseThis network has never operated a station in Bakersfield.  Because of the sensitivity of the subject matter, i.e. potential radiation danger, we must caution ourselves to deal strictly in fact, and resist the rumor mill.  To illustrate the point, I know for a fact that our Monitoring Station in Vancouver, BC just recorded a reading of 14 CPM in the last minute.  That is a fact, not speculation, not rumor.  If someone is claiming this or that, ask them to back it up.
bulletUnits of Measurement - It is confusing - Rems, Rads, Roentgens, Sieverts, CPM, mili, micro... In the US, the standard unit to quantify dosage is the Roentgen, or more particularly, usually milli-Roentgens per hour, abbreviated as mR/hr, or micro-Roentgens per hour, written as uR/hr.
bulletMeanwhile, in Japan and most other countries, the common unit is the Sievert, and in practice usually micro-Sieverts per hour, written as uSv/hr.  It is easy to convert - 1 mR/hr equates to 10 uSv/hr, so a reading out of Japan of 500 uSv/hr would equal 50 mR/hr - just divide by 10.  Some people use the term Rads or Rems as substitutes for Roentgens, and for all intents and purposes, they are interchangeable, although not scientifically correct.
bulletA cautionary note - because of the large array of radiation units, when stating a reading, it is meaningless, dangerous, and irresponsible to give just the number - always follow that number with the corresponding unit of measurement - not doing so breeds wild rumors.
bulletBut the Radiation Map uses CPM - why?  Well, because CPM, or Counts per Minute, corresponds directly to the output of the compatible Geiger Counters, and CPM levels are also user-friendly integral numbers.  Problem is, some Geiger counters, particularly those that use the "pancake" Geiger-Mueller tubes, are more efficient than others and detect a higher count rate than standard tubed models - up to 3 times, which also explains why some stations on the Map show higher levels than others.  We are going to correct that in future software versions, and adopt the uR/hr standard.  But the CPM unit serves us for now, and as it turns out, the CPM readings for standard tubed Geiger counters does in fact equate exactly to the same readings in uR/hr.
bulletAccuracy of Readings - While most visitors to the Radiation Network welcome the service, a few have questioned the accuracy and legitimacy of the radiation readings.  That healthy skepticism is a good thing, especially given the sensitive nature of this subject matter.  I can only say that we don't have an agenda, other than the collection and reporting of Radiation levels taken on a scientific basis. Since our network is of a server/client nature, we exercise some control over the issuance of Monitoring Station participation in the first place, and retain the ability to shut down any station that abuses its license.  Having said that, I am very pleased with, and proud of the makeup of our Monitoring Stations.  These are largely just individuals like you and me who are concerned and aware, diligent in recording readings, and interestingly, many of them are ham radio operators at the same time.

So continue to send your emails.  While I haven't the time to respond to most, I can glance at them and get the gist of your thinking, and then use this forum to answer questions common among you.  While I love those phone calls expressing appreciation for what our Network is doing, please limit calls from only those of you who can operate Monitoring Stations in the instance where you already have a compatible Geiger Counter, and where we can provide you the Software and Data Cable, if needed.  Thank you again for your support. Tim Flanegin

We have received a lot of feedback on our Radiation Network, including gratitude for this service, and we really appreciate the support.  A lot of suggestions and questions (and some complaints) have been forwarded as well, so I would like to address those here, because we do not have time to respond to your individual email messages.

The messages range from Where is Hawaii and Alaska to Why aren't there more Monitoring Stations, etc.  So for starters, this is a privately founded, owned, and operated network.  We are not affiliated with the government in any way, and therefore, we lack the unlimited funding that our government seemingly has.  Otherwise, we would gladly set up 1,000 Monitoring Stations in the US, including Alaska and Hawaii.  What that means, therefore, is that the Network is dependent on us to set up Monitoring Stations, where all you need is a compatible Radiation Detector and the Radiation Network Software.  We can not force anyone to operate a Monitoring Station - if we don't do it ourselves, it won't happen.

Many have asked for more details on Monitoring Stations and Nuclear Sites, etc.  We would love to give all the data away free, and spend unlimited hours posting all of it on the web site for public benefit, but we fund this network out of our own pocket through the sales of our GeigerGraph for Networks Software that makes this all possible.  So if you want the full capabilities of the Network, the Maps, and the Data, we ask that you shell out a few bucks for the software.  Sorry - a little capitalism at work here - it's how we make our living.

So the main point is this: We need more Monitoring Stations!  The data is thin.  So if you want to help, get a hold of a compatible detector, and set one up.  Like any volunteer effort, it is up to us.

Now for some individual issues:

bulletWeb Site status - Yes, our site was down on 3/15 for awhile, but due to a technical mistake on our part - there was no sinister explanation behind that.
 
bulletAlaska and Hawaii - We posted "static" maps at this link - AK and HI.
 
bulletGlobal Map - This network is potentially global.  One our members from Norway was operating his Monitoring Station yesterday, and we continue to urge a couple of our members in Japan to run their stations and "plug in" to the Network.

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