Monday, October 27, 2008

Current Events 10/27/08

those who are capable and are allowed, join the radon professionals; i am travelling shortly

look through the file and find the radon chapter after you have read the others

follow on up the earthquakes at the US Geological Survey sites

will tell you more later...

In Ohio, the radon regulations allow one to test for radon in their own homes without a license. Once you conduct radon testing (termed whatever you want: diagnostics, sniffing, etc.) in a home you do not own or lease, you need to have a license.

As far as measuring radiation in homes, I would defer to the Bureau of Radiation Protection here at ODH.


Joshua J. Kerber, MS

Ohio Department of Health

Radon Licensing Program

246 N. High Street

Columbus, OH 43215

ph: (614) 466-0061

fax: (614) 752-4157

From: International Web Resource for Radon Professionals [mailto:RADONPROFESSIONALS@LIST.UIOWA.EDU] On Behalf Of Phillip H. Jenkins
Sent: Sunday, October 26, 2008 4:33 PM
Subject: Re: [RADONPROFESSIONALS] Liability from Measuring Granite Counter Tops

I can only make guesses. To know for sure, contact personnel at the Ohio Dept of Health. BUT, here are my guesses: if you use a femto-TECH 410 for sniffing (in Ohio), then you would need to be licensed in Ohio PROBABLY as a radon mitigation contractor. If you use a gamma measuring instrument (in Ohio), then you would probably need to be licensed in Ohio to do radiation surveys, this comes under a different license category from any radon licensure. Again, I could be wrong, I'm just making somewhat educated guesses here.


Phillip H. Jenkins, PhD, CHP
Senior Health Physicist
Bowser-Morner, Inc.
Mail: P.O. Box 51 - Dayton, OH 45401
Delivery: 4514 Taylorsville Road - Dayton, OH 45424
Voice: (937) 236-8805 x248
Fax: (937) 233-2024

From: Gary Wilson [mailto:gwilson1984@GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Sat, 25 Oct 2008 15:41:48 -0400
Subject: Re: [RADONPROFESSIONALS] Liability from Measuring Granite Counter Tops

Dear Dr. Jenkins,

First, I'll quote our friend Mr. Grammer:
"The NJDEP requires that the radon canister test under the cover be labeled as
'This is a diagnostic test only' not to be used to when considering the radon
levels for the home."

I'm not familiar with your state's regs, but if one is only doing "diagnostic"
work over a piece of granite, no matter the instrument, is that any different
than using a femto-tech sniffer (I think it is their 410) to measure the radon coming out of a crack or hole drilled into the basement floor so the mitigator
can best locate the suction hole?

In other words, if the person is only looking for the "high" numbers and NOT
reporting them, but only using the info to determine if further testing is to be
conducted using more accurate methods, will they be breaking any laws?

Thanks in advance, GW

On Sat, 25 Oct 2008 01:18:33 -0400, Phillip H. Jenkins MORNER.COM> wrote:

>Be aware that the Ohio Dept of Health has taken the position that if you
measure gamma from granite counter tops then you are doing a radiation
survey for which you must be LICENSED. Other states might take the same
position. Soooooooo, as I said at the AARST symposium, if you are not
trained and qualified, and maybe licensed, you could be taking a huge risk to
go out and do gamma surveys for anything.Phil
>Phillip H. Jenkins, PhD, CHP
>Senior Health Physicist
>Bowser-Morner, Inc.
>Mail: P.O. Box 51 - Dayton, OH 45401
>Delivery: 4514 Taylorsville Road - Dayton, OH 45424
>Voice: (937) 236-8805 x248
>Fax: (937) 233-2024
> _____
> From: James McNees [mailto:mcneesj@YAHOO.COM]
>Sent: Fri, 24 Oct 2008 13:50:34 -0400
>Subject: Re: [RADONPROFESSIONALS] Liability from Measuring Granite
Counter Tops
>I have one that the State of Alabama bought me for use in emergency and
incident response. Most Haz Mat team members have them also.
>If I wasn't so lazy I could start moonlighting on weekends as "DeepSouth
Countertop Inspection Service" and maybe make a few extra bucks.
>James L. McNees, CHP
>Assistant Director
>Office of Radiation Control
>Alabama Department of Public Health
>Cell- 334-850-5293
>(Just kidding - Mr. Whatley would fire me.)
>--- On Fri, 10/24/08, Celia wrote:
> From: Celia
>Subject: Re: [RADONPROFESSIONALS] Liability from Measuring Granite
Counter Tops
>Date: Friday, October 24, 2008, 10:50 AM
>Its a Personal Radiation Detector - to be worn on your person.
>Good Grief!
>----- Original Message -----
>From: David Grammer
>Sent: Fri, 24 Oct 2008 13:47:14 +0000 (UTC)
>Subject: [RADONPROFESSIONALS] Liability from Measuring Granite Counter
>Is this an acceptable communication for this industry.
>7 minutes of entertainment (might be painful) but a must watch video.
>Do we need government or industry intervention.
>David Grammer
>RAdata, Inc.
>27 Ironia Road, Unit 2
>Flanders, New Jersey 07836
>973-927-7303 973-927-4980 fax
>--------------------------- RADONPROFESSIONALS - ------------------------
--- --------------------------- RADONPROFESSIONALS - ---------------------------
>--------------------------- RADONPROFESSIONALS - ---------------------------
>NOTICE: This transmission is sent on behalf of Bowser-Morner, Inc. and it
>be privileged, proprietary or confidential. It is intended only for the intended
>recipient. If you are not the intended recipient or a person responsible for
>delivering this transmission to the intended recipient, you may not disclose,
>copy or distribute this transmission or take any action in reliance on it. If you
>received this transmission in error, please notify us immediately by
telephone at
>937- 236-8805 ext 228 or by e-mail at or
>facsimile transmission at 937 - 233-2016, and please destroy all copies of
>transmission. Thank you.
>--------------------------- RADONPROFESSIONALS - ------------------------

--------------------------- RADONPROFESSIONALS - ---------------------------


NOTICE: This transmission is sent on behalf of Bowser-Morner, Inc. and it may
be privileged, proprietary or confidential. It is intended only for the intended
recipient. If you are not the intended recipient or a person responsible for
delivering this transmission to the intended recipient, you may not disclose,
copy or distribute this transmission or take any action in reliance on it. If you
received this transmission in error, please notify us immediately by telephone at
937- 236-8805 ext 228 or by e-mail at or by
facsimile transmission at 937 - 233-2016, and please destroy all copies of this
transmission. Thank you.

--------------------------- RADONPROFESSIONALS - ---------------------------

"This e-mail is intended for the sole use of the intended recipient and may contain privileged, sensitive, or protected health information. If you are not the intended recipient, be advised that the unauthorized use, disclosure, copying, distribution, or action taken in reliance on the contents of this communication is prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please notify the sender via telephone or return e-mail and immediately delete this e-mail." --------------------------- RADONPROFESSIONALS - ---------------------------

On Oct 27, 2008, at 10:08 AM, Ray Johnson, PE, CHP wrote:

Bill and Gary:

I see you guys are still trying to provide helpful measurement data for granite counter tops.

I wish I could have attended the AARST conference and provided more insights on radiation measurements.

Let me see if I can clarify a few matters here.

First of all the PM1703 employs a CsI detector with properties similar to an NaI detector (Ludlum Model 19). Both types of detectors are very energy dependent, pulse counting, activity measuring instruments. They are best suited for finding a gamma source. The CsI instrument is marketed by Thermo Fisher to help first responders find sources and give a qualitative indication of magnitude. Thus, neither should be used for accurate readings in mR/hr. The only way either detector could give accurate mR/hr readings is if they were both calibrated for a radium source.

Since both would be calibrated for Cs-137 at 662 keV, they will likely over respond for Pb-214 gamma rays at 295 keV ( emitted19% of the time) and 352 keV (36%) and for Bi-214 at 609 keV (47%). Bi-214 also has two higher energy gammas at 1,120 keV (17%) and 1,764 keV (17%) where the detectors will under respond. Overall, I would expect both detectors to give readings too high in comparison with the Cs-137 calibration source.

The plastic scintillator (Bicron micro-rem, also made by Thermo Fisher) will give a better energy independent response. It is also fast and should give stable readings. However, for measuring granite counter tops, it has a major limitation. Namely, it will also measure the beta emissions from uranium and radium decay products. I find from my large collection of uranium ore and radium dial clocks, that 95% or more of the radiation signal is from beta particles.

Thus, the plastic scintillator will read too high because it is also measuring the beta signal. Therefore, when you find any agreement between NaI, CsI, and plastic it is coincidental. The NaI and CsI read too high because of over response at gamma energies below 662 keV and the plastic reads too high because it is reading the beta component as well as the gamma. The bottom line is that none of these detectors should be used to give reportable readings in mR/hr as a basis for any decisions or actions (in case you are wondering about liability issues).

The plastic scintillator could be used if the beta signal is blocked by about 1/4 inch of plastic.

Another option would be to use a standard ion chamber (closed window), or a pressurized ion chamber. Both of these will give good energy independent readings of radium decay products. They are also the only instruments that give a true mR/hr reading. All other instruments give surrogate readings, not true readings. Unfortunately, ion chambers are slow, not very sensitive (standard ion chamber), and erratic. The pressurized ion chamber is more sensitive, but still gives very erratic readings. For example a pressurized ion chamber may give readings from 5 to 30 uR/hr for normal background at one location. The readings also tend to shift, due to movements of the meter. If you shake it a little, you can get any reading you want.

The following is my response to an inquiry which I answered for the Health Physics Society:

"I have been asked by the HPS "Ask the Experts" editor to provide information for your request concerning radiation measurements on granite counter tops.

First of all you are right that granite may contain small amounts of uranium and radium. Actually these radioactive elements are found in all materials that come from the ground. They are a natural part of the composition of all earthen materials. Granite, in particular, has long been known for having measurable amounts of radium and also to be a source of measurable gamma radiation.

With the recent publicity about granite as a radioactive material, many people across the country have attempted to make measurements to determine the levels of radiation. Unfortunately, the common Geiger Mueller (GM) detector is not very well suited for such measurements. In particular, the pancake GM probe that you have used with your radiation meter is not very good for measuring gamma radiation. It is best suited for medium to high energy beta particles.

Since your detector is best suited for medium-high energy beta radiation, this is the primary signal that you will detect with your GM meter from uranium and radium decay products. What this means is that the signal from granite with your pancake GM detector will be 90 to 95% beta particles. On this basis alone, your readings in mR/hr are too high by a factor of 10 to 20. Also, when you hold your detector in the air, you will measure gamma rays from the ground (which contains uranium and radium) and cosmic rays or gamma rays from outer space. These readings, known as background readings (of gamma rays), cannot be compared with the readings from the surface of granite, which are mostly beta particles.

Furthermore, the scale on your meter is calibrated in exposure units of milliRoentgen / hour (mR/hr) in comparison with a gamma ray signal from Cesium-137. Exposure, in the language of radiation safety, has a very specific meaning related to ionization in air from x-rays or gamma rays.

Exposure is not defined for a beta particle signal. Thus, the scale on your meter is not calibrated for a beta particle signal. Therefore, the reading on your meter has no meaning in units of mR/hr. You could compare readings from one piece of granite to another as relative values, but not in units of mR/hr. Beta particle readings can be measured in units of millirad/hour (mrad/hr), if your meter is calibrated with a known source of beta particles.

In order to measure only gamma rays (which is what your detector is actually calibrated for) you would need to block out the beta particle signal with about 1/4 inch of plastic. This will eliminate the beta component or interference with measurements in mR/hr (which should only apply to x-rays or gamma rays).

Eliminating the beta signal, however, will only resolve one problem with your GM detector. The other problem is that your GM detector is calibrated only for measurements of gamma rays from Cesium-137 at an energy of 662 keV . Measurements of gamma radiation at any other energy will not be accurate.

The gamma energy from uranium and radium decay products are below 662 keV (radium decay products have primary gamma energies from about 300 to 600 keV) and your GM detector will likely under respond by as much as 30 to 40%.

The following link will take you to information from Ludlum instruments on the energy response of your pancake GM detector.

My conclusion is that readings with your GM detector could easily be high by a factor of 10 to 20 or more because of the large beta particle signal and never should be reported or interpreted in units of mR/hr. If you block out the beta signal, your detector may read low by 30 to 40% because of the gamma energies below those of cesium-137.

As you can now see there are substantial limitations on the use of any type of GM detector for evaluating granite. Thus, I would urge great caution for interpretations about your measurements which are based on readings from an open-window pancake Geiger Mueller detector.

The best detectors for measuring radiation or exposure levels from granite would be either a closed-window standard ion chamber or a pressurized ion chamber. Both are designed to block out the beta particle signal and also have good energy response over the range of gamma ray energies that come from radium decay products."

To: Ray Johnson, PE, CHP

Subject: Re: Radiation Measurements of Granite Counter Tops

Thank you for your prompt and thorough response.

I understand the limitations of the GM meter with pancake probe. I find it odd that on the NBC 2 weeks ago a CHP was surveying a piece of granite with what looked exactly like a Ludlum 14c with pancake probe.

I have access to a Fluke 451p and can resurvey. Do you know what the expected readings are? The news said that some areas where granite is mined were higher than others.

Thank you for your time?

Ray's response:

Unfortunately, being a CHP or a CIH does not automatically mean that one would be a specialist in radiation instruments. My knowledge comes from conducting radiation surveys at the National Institutes of Health for 18 years. We conducted radiation safety inspections of over 9,000 laboratories a year. I also calibrated and repaired over 2,500 radiation instruments a year. I am also a registered x-ray inspector. In addition, I teach radiation instrument classes for RSOs and others 2 to 4 times a month and have written several book chapters on instruments. I have presented 40-hour training to qualify over 2,200 RSOs in the last 15 years.

To answer your question on radiation levels from granite, I should say that I have very little actual data.

I would suggest however, that measurements in contact with granite are not realistic for estimating risk. As you may know, dose limits imposed by the NRC and states are for whole body exposures. The only way a person could get a whole body exposure from granite would be to lay down on the counter top. To estimate a person's actual exposure would require several measurements from knee to head heights at a distance that a person may stand or sit next to a counter top.

Such readings could be averaged to estimate a whole body exposure. For evaluation, you might use the level used in several states which regulate Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM). The dose limit in these states is the public dose limit specified by the NRC for limiting exposures to licensed material in unrestricted area, namely 100 mrem in a year. To compare with this number (which by the way does NOT apply to granite counter tops), you would need to determine the average whole body exposure in mR/hr and multiply by the number of hours of expected occupancy for a year.

Warmest regards,

Ray Johnson, MS, PE, FHPS, CHP
Vice President, Training Programs
Dade Moeller & Associates
Radiation Safety Academy Division
438 N. Frederick Avenue, Suite 220
Gaithersburg, Maryland 20877
phone: 301-990-6006
toll free: 800-871-7930
fax: 301-990-9878


From: International Web Resource for Radon Professionals [mailto:RADONPROFESSIONALS@LIST.UIOWA.EDU] On Behalf Of Bill Brodhead
Sent: Saturday, October 25, 2008 9:34 AM
Subject: [RADONPROFESSIONALS] Using PM1703 for E-Perms or granite


I very much appreciate it when someone relays actual data they have collected. I also had a working bicron Micro-rem until it decided to die about a month ago. I was using it to try and make comparative measurements between gamma rate and radon emanation rate from granite. I was also using Paul Kotrappa's 2 mR dosimeters and found they gave very similar readings compared to the Bicron. You can obtain my paper off my website or the AARST website. After my bircon broke I obtained a PM1703 from Airchek. I got very different results surveying the same granite with the PM1703 versus the Bicron. The chart below is the different results. Note the very big difference between the NG and FS granite gamma versus radon emanation rate using the Bicron but the PM1703 produces a closer relationship. Unfortunately I do not have the CB or JB granite anymore so this comparison is only based on two granite samples.

Granite type
Bicron mR/hr
above background
PM1703 mR/hr
above background
Bicron mR/hr

PM1703 mR/hr

NG granite
FS granite
JB granite


CB granite


The PM1703 has a number of qualities that I like. It fits in your pocket or snaps on your belt. Takes a single AA battery. Has a digital read out. It tells you the error. It responds very fast to changes in gamma. Because of its fast response & digital readout you can locate hot spots down to specks in the granite.

I'm not suggesting that people buy this instrument to start a granite scanning business however I think the PM1703 may be an excellent instrument to use with E-Perm measurements to get a background gamma reading. Even if it does not cover all the gamma energies that an electret is sensitive to it has to be better than just using the average gamma rate for the state. I have included the response curve for the 1703. Can anyone on the list serve comment about this response curve and using this meter to obtain background readings for E-Perm's. We just mailed one of these units to Paul Kotrappa to test.

Just in the last week while visiting homes to give mitigation estimates I have found the gamma readings in basements varying from 9 uR/hr to 17 uR/hr using the 1703. In one vacant house the granite countertop had two locations that had small red specs in the granite that read 20 to 30 uR/hr above background.

The PM1703 can be purchased for $495 from Airchek or other companies on the web.


On Sat, Oct 25, 2008 at 1:30 AM, Gary Wilson wrote:
I have one too. The darn thing is very sensitive and very-very fast to respond.
Maybe that is why it is so popular with first responders...think about that for a
few seconds...if you were in their shoes!

I compared the PM1703 to a Bicron urem and a Ludlum Model 19. The Bicron
was designed to measure human dose, correctly, for all gamma and x-ray
energies. I found that the PM1703 responded faster and was more stable than
the Bicron (lots of needle movement on the Bicron). The PM1703 measured
very close to the Bicron when I measured uranium ore and thoriated welding
rods. The Ludlum Model 19 read about double the Bicron. The PM1703
measured low compared to the Bicron when I measured potassium chloride
water softener salt. So did the Ludlum, but not as low. The PM 1703 measures
ALL radon sources sensitively and accurately. It is not a toy and certainly
beats a mayonnaise jar.

Maybe those who are so ready to condemn should test a product before
bolivating...or do they have their own reasons for making this an issue. I'll
quote Grammer here and you make up your mind about who is screwing the

BTW David. how much do you charge for your "expert" service???

WPB Enterprises
W 610 346-8004 Fax 610 346-8575
--------------------------- RADONPROFESSIONALS -

--------------------------- RADONPROFESSIONALS - ---------------------------

Check this out; join it yourself and check out

We are travelling to the midwest-planning thanksgiving with the family there

Hope to party in Illinois, Ohio and Indiana- i have not been back to Purdue since 1981 and never been to Notre Dame U where they have laser flash photolysis system and where my classmate in Statistics 2 now in Risk Analysis Bob Zerr is working; we should take Elbert Regacho on his Philippine Engineers and Scientists Organization( party invitation; my mother in law has ham and turkey for the 30th Thanksgiving anniversary; guess who I bested in Chess years ago? Doug, the purple heart Vietnam Veteran that i had to therapy- what are sister in law for?; hey, David, you want to learn Chess from auntie? guess what Ian went for? not football but baseball? so what will you do with polar bears, panda bears, wolves, foxes, hounds, grizzly bears, penguins, seals, sea turtles, jellyfish, hawks, monkey eating eagles, sea urchins

eh Zubek, what happened to your snowman story?

Marianne, it is better to put on weight than to drink alcohol in the winter to keep warm and double and triple layers help;

I saw greenhouses near the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ where the Bayanihan Dance Troupe entertained us.

I taught Ed to win in Sunka. He got more seashells than me. Beginner's Luck. I was benevolent that day.

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