uhmerikan atomic life

i done did some home edukayshon about Geiger counters and radiation.

Geiger counters can detect ionizing radiation.  one type of ionization particle is called the alpha particle. it is a helium nucleus without electrons. a sheet of paper can stop most alpha particles.

then there are beta particles. these are high speed electrons. they are 100 times as penetrating as alpha particles.  beta particles have a range of energy. it is accepted that a 1/8″ thick aluminum plate will stop beta particles.

gamma rays can be considered x-rays only more energetic and penetrating.

now back to ionization. alpha and beta particles carry a charge when they hit matter they change the charge of the matter, ionizing it. the danger of these particles is the damage they do to living tissue. they can damage DNA and proteins and other chemicals critical to life function.

gamma rays dont carry a charge but when the hit matter they change the charge also. gamma rays have a higher energy and therefore can do more damage.

charges are carried by electrons and all chemistry is just electron exchange electrons are the main component of ionization.

here is a way of visualizing it. take a highway with smooth traffic. under orderly conditions the flow of traffic can be very heavy, that is to say a high volume at rush hour but every one reaches their destination even on time. now let’s add some radiation in the form of a drunk driver. this driver doesnt even use an on ramp or obey traffic signals. the driver plows into traffic at a high speed hitting other vehicles which bounce around and hit other vehicles.

that is a likely out come. but it isnt THE outcome. there may be days when some drunk plows into traffic and doesnt hit anyone. maybe the driver cuts across the grassy knoll and hits an embankment.

still, it is a percentage game. if you send enough drunk drivers onto a highway a certain amount of them will hit other vehicles and cause damage.

i have a hepa filter with optional ionizer. it has a press button that toggles the ionizer off or on. the ionizer sends out negative ions which attach to particle floating in the air it helps them bind together and big enough to precipitate. there they can be vacuumed up or wiped off a surface with absorbent material.

a hepa filter for the home usually has a pre filter, the hepa filter, a fan, an electrode for emitting ions and an exhaust. briefly, again, the fan sucks air through the filters and as it is being blown out the negative ions are injected into the cleaned air discharge.

the ions are injected after the air is sucked through the filters. the air flow means the filters should not “see” any ions. of course as the air in the room is continually being ionized eventually the filters would be sucking ionized air and particles. they would become ionized. as the ions leak off, say, when the filters are removed, maybe, just maybe, a geiger counter would detect ionizing radiation from the filters.

what i am getting at is, after i replace my old hepa filters with new ones they remained highly “radioactive”. the geiger counter showed dangerous background radiation even with the filters placed in the plastic bag and box that the new filters came in.

what that indicates to me is that the radiation being detected by the GC is NOT alpha particle. alpha particles are stopped even by paper. could be beta particles. i didnt get a sheet of aluminum foil at the time to see if that was enough to stop the readings.

what i did do was stack the filters in the bags and boxes on a drawer top. 48 hours later when i went to check them the readings have dropped to normal background readings, less that 30 “clicks” per minute.

now i am trying to determine exactly what sort of radioactive emission the instrument was detecting. there are radioactive particles that have short half lives. it could be that the hepa filter is trapping radioactive particles with short half lives, those that will decay to background level in 48 hours.

ions are funny, they behave like static electric charges. if i have a filter that has a charge from collecting ions from the air and i wash it in water that would effectively quench any charge build up. however, if the filter had indeed collected radioactive particles i could wash some of them away but some would remain to decay in half life fashion.

one could chemically detect the decay products in the filter and determine what radioactive parents had been present. sounds like big bucks to me. but i am interested….

all the hepa filters i have were many years old and very impacted. however, they would have to be replenished constantly to be so radioactive. it could be that the ion leak off the material could cause a count in the GC. when the material became neutral, discharged, then no more GC readings.

i aint a scientist and i dont portray one on TV. YO!


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