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Nuclear Radiation

How Radioactive Is It?
Common Radioactive Items Compared
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by Vaughn Aubuchon

Here is a chart of radioactive things that I have found. Each item was measured by 4 different Geiger Counters.

All radioactive sources were tested, using Ludlum, Eberline, Bicron, and Civil Defense Geiger Counters. In each case, the CPM (Counts per Minute) of each sample were recorded. The purpose of this summary, is to show the relative radioactivity of common items, which may be purchased at stores, flea markets, garage sales, and eBay.

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300

140



.
 How Radioactive Is It? -
 Radioactive Sources

 From Least Radioactive to Most Radioactive.

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Geiger Counter Manuf. =

Ludlum
Ludlum
Ludlum
Eberline
Bicron
Old CD

Geiger Counter # =

Model 19
Model 3
Model 3
Custom
Model 50
CDV-700

Sensitivity =

Lo energy Gamma
Alpha
Highest
Next
Less
Least

Detector type =

1"x1" NaI
scintill.
43-65 ZnS
scintill.
pancake
Geiger tube
pancake
Geiger tube
end window
Geiger tube
side window
Geiger tube
#
Radioactive
Item
Description
Radioactive
Item
Size
Isotope
Ludlum
µREM
Ludlum
Count
Ludlum
Count
Eberline
Count
Bicron 50
Count
.
CDV-700
Count

 -

 

-

Background
atomic
random
10
5
50
30
25
20
1

from Arizona

#2 weak Uraninite

>1"
Uran-238
10
5
60
30
30
20
2

from Arizona

#1 weak Uraninite

>1"
Uran-238
20
5
100
60
60
20
3

2% Thorium

Welding rod

1/8x7"
Thor-228
10
30
300
250
40
30
4

Uranium Glass

3 glass marbles

1/2"
Uran-238
10
5
450
250
100
40

-

Depression glass

Dessert plate

8 3/8"
Uran-238
15
40
1,200
600
130
80
5

from Arizona

#3 uranium ore

>1"
Uran-238
20
50
2,400
1,000
450
200
6

from N. Carolina

Megalodon tooth

5"
Uran-238
40
120
2,600
1,200
320
200
7

from Wyoming

Schrockingerite

1"
Uran-238
15
no meas.
3,200
1,600
600
500
8

CDV-700 Meter

700 check source

1/4"
Ces-137
10
5
5,000
2,600
1,800
1,800
9

from Arizona

Uraninite/ carnotite

5"
Uran-238
50
600
8,000
4,000
1,000
800

 -

-

 -

10

contain thorium

Lant. mantles (10)

2" x 3"
Thor-228
180
no meas.
21,000
7,000
2,000
1,300
11

Spokane, WA

Autunite crystals

1/2"
Uran-238
60
no meas.
22,000
20,000
3,500
2,800
12

Fiestaware (red)

Coffee Cup

3"
Uran-238
25
700
32,000
14,000
3,200
3,000
13

Fiestaware (red)

Saucer - 6"

6"
Uran-238
32
6.000
32,000
14,000
3,000
3,000
14

Fiestaware (red)

Saucer - 6"

6"
Uran-238
32
6.000
32,000
14,000
3,000
3,000
15

Parma (red)

Plate - 8"

8"
Uran-238
34
2,400
34,000
12,000
3,000
2,000
16

Fiestaware (red)

Bowl

6 3/4"
Uran-238
46
2,000
40,000
16,000
4,000
5,000
17

Metlox (red)

Plate - 7 1/2"

7 1/2"
Uran-238
42
2,600
40,000
14,000
3,400
2,800
18

Padre (red)

Plate - 7 1/2"

7 1/2"
Uran-238
44
3.200
42,000
16,000
3,800
3,200
19

Fiestaware (red)

Serving plate

14 1/4"
Uran-238
80
3,200
43,000
18,000
4,500
4,000
20

Spokane, WA

Autunite cluster

1/2"
Uran-238
45
no meas.
46,000
22,000
10,000
8,000

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-

 -

21

Smoke detector

Detector sensor

1/8"
Amer-241
160
100,000
80,000
42,000
14,000
250
22

from Colorado

Coffinite - 5"

5"
Uran-238
800
9.000
110,000
32,000
10,000
8,000
23

from Colorado

Uraninite - 7"

7"
Uran-238
1,200
13,000
150,000
44,000
15,000
12,000
24

from Shinkolabwe

Gummite

1/2"
Uran-238
600
no meas.
220,000
58,000
60,000
180,000
25

from Congo

Torbernite

1"
Uran-238
900
12,000
330,000
> 60,000
50,000
28,000

 -

40

150

130 - 800

60

80

60

75

75

75

75

75


Notes to above table

1. Seemingly anomalous readings are shown in red text.

2. Response curves are not linear, and vary for several reasons - radiation type, detector response, distance from detector surface caused by sample size and shape, detector size and shape, etc.

3. Millions of people have been eating off of "Radioactive Red" Fiestaware for many decades. This gives me the willies.

4. "No measure" applies to samples stored in plastic bags which block alpha particles. I choose not to remove the samples, due to their crumbling, flaking, disintegrating nature.

5. With the Ludlum Model 19, I measured one item with the case removed = 500 µREM. The same sample when measured with the case in place resulted in = 400 µREM. So, you can figure on a 20% reduction in incoming energy using the case as intended.

6. The Ludlum Model 19 shows an average background of about 9µ REM. When it was 12µREM, I discovered some samples about 5 feet away - not good enough. I use a 20ft no-sample zone now. I still can't figure out where those extra few µREM are coming from.

.

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Items to Measure

Items which I will be adding over time (with guess at energy level) -

* Brazil nuts (radium) (no gamma on Model #19)
* Kitty litter (bentonite)
* Magazine cover (kaolin clay)
* Water-softener salt (potassium chloride)
** Fertilizer (high phosphate)

*** Uranium-glazed Cloisonné jewelry (yellow)
*** Radium alarm clock dial (painted hands and numbers)

**** Depleted uranium penetrators (bullets)


Anything else I can find that is "hot"

If you have something hotter than my Torbernite above, and want to sell it, send me an email.
If you have a depleted uranium penetrator, rent it to me for 1 day for $30, and I will return it to you. I jist want to measure it.

.

400 - 550

140



.
Uranium Isotope Concentrations
Natural vs. Enriched Uranium

.
Enriched Uranium
Natural Uranium
%
Depleted Uranium
%
Weapons
Grade
Uranium
%
Highly-Enriched Weapons-Usable Grade
Uranium
%
Enriched
Reactor
Grade
Uranium
%

U-234

-
-
-
0.0055
0.0009

U-235

90.0
20.0
4.0
0.71
0.20

U-238

10.0
80.0
96.0
99.28
99.80

REM

Highest
Higher
High
Medium
Medium

75

75 - 450

75

75

75

75




DISCLAIMER
I am building this page for self-education.
Although the author has tried to be as accurate as possible, errors are possible.

I could not find a Summary Chart of radioactive substances quite like the above. So, I made this ionizing radiation measurement summary chart, to help myself understand radioactivity. I hope that it helps you.

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This Vaughns How-Radioactive-Is-It? Summary
Chart was last updated on 2017-10-28.