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Nuclear Power/Microsieverts/h of items


Hello Dr. Welter,
First let me start by saying that I know absolutely nothing about sieverts, roentgens, rems ,curies, etc... I'm just going to throw out some info and maybe you can tell me what's what.
I recently purchased a Quarta-Radex Model 1503 Geiger counter to test some (post-Fukushima) Japanese made titanium camp cookware; (I'm not paranoid, just curious).
I started by taking a few readings of background radiation from the top of a wooden barista table about 3 feet above my concrete patio.  The background readings were averaging at .11-.12 microsieverts/hr. Now, to make a long story short, I went about testing not only the Japanese items, but several random metal and non-metal items from around the house and garage. Everything ranging from silverware to tools to bananas.  All told, I was getting readings ranging from .11 to .16 (as the device reads out "averages" for the "final" reading), although the device was reading temporary "spikes" for various items which ranged from .20 to .36 microsieverts/hr.
So, basically, I'm wondering if you see any reason to be concerned about these readings.  I realize that radiation waves and particles are everywhere, but the only thing I find sort of weird is that some items are spiking at 3x the normal background level.  Is there a certain "level" where an item would be considered "dangerous", "out of the norm", "elevated", or in any case, not advisable to use in regards to cookware?
Thanks, Jim

Hi Jim and thanks for the question! No safety issues at all. Those are very low readings. May favorite way to discuss radiation is the bannana equivalent dose. Sounds kind of silly but helps out things in perspective. Here is a link to a great Wikipedia article on the subject Hope this helps! Feel free to follow up if you have anymore questions.

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Dr. Kent Welter


Ever wonder what the next generation of nuclear reactor might look like? Or if the radiation from Fukushima is making your sushi unsafe? I have a passion for nuclear energy and new technologies. Ask me anything! Expertise in nuclear power safety, licensing, advanced reactors, risk, and radiation. I also love science fiction and dabble in space reactors.


Reactor Systems Engineer and Branch Chief at the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Nuclear Safety Engineering Manager at NuScale Power.

Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from Oregon State University (2002)

Awards and Honors
2011 Oregon Stater Award. 2007 Scientific Achievement Award from the Oregon Institute of Technology Alumni.

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