Geeky calculation time

So, over here something about fracking and radiation. As I point out, it’s true, but is it important?

So, actually looking it up, we get this change in radiation exposure:

They found elevated levels of beta radiation in areas located downwind of UOGD wells, with levels decreasing with distance (an additional 100 UOGD wells within 20 km was associated with a 0.024 mBq/m3 increase in beta radiation downwind).

So, what we want is that exposure – or change in it – in the Banana Equivalent Dose unit. Perhaps, 24 hours of an ambient increase of 0.024mBq/m3 equals how many bananas consumed?

16 thoughts on “Geeky calculation time”

  1. If they really do mean milliBecquerels, then this is of no consequence whatever. The activity of each human is 8000bQ, i.e. 8000 nuclear decays per sec due to, mainly, Potassium 40, which is also where the banana unit comes from.

  2. That must be a typo (or this is a tempest in a teapot) – mBq is millibecquerel so 0.024mBq/m3 would be roughly 1 extra radioactive decay every 40,000 seconds per cubic metre of air which is less dangerous than a gnat’s fart.

    Whatever they mean, the paper also says “the national average PR level was 0.35 mBq/m3”, with interquartile range 0.22 – 0.43 mBq/m3. An extra 0.024 on that is noise.

    For comparison, in the UK H&S get worried by radon build up in cellars if it exceeds 100 Bq/m3.

  3. And if my napkin-fu is correct..

    The dose comes down to 6.48e-9 th of a banana per second, assuming total absorption, and all internally.
    That’s one whole banana per 4.9 years….

    I’ve got a pretty piece of lapis lazuli sitting on a shelf here that’s a million times more dangerous…

  4. @dearieme

    Just electrons?
    Grab a 415V wire*. They’re just electrons as well… 🙂

    * For the love of God, don’t do that.

    As per usual, this is probably just a case of someone thinking ‘radiation = bad’

  5. Bloke in North Dorset

    “ Just electrons?
    Grab a 415V wire*. They’re just electrons as well…

    * For the love of God, don’t do that.

    As per usual, this is probably just a case of someone thinking ‘radiation = bad’”

    No problem, if that’s all you touch and you’re stood on a good quality rubber mat. Touched 600V valve top caps a couple of times by mistake when fault fining high powered radios We weren’t allowed to work anywhere near the 3kV stuff with the power on.

  6. Geek here

    radioactive fracking.

    the Harvard public ‘elfs …

    0.024 mBq/m3 increase? – a m^3 being 166 average 6L breaths.

    20,000 breaths a day – so 120m^3 a day (2.88mBq a day)

    It is generally accepted 1 banana contains ca. 15 becquerels (15000 mBq) of Potassium-40

    – so …. 15/0.00288 = an extra banana every 5200 days (14 years)

    Feel free to knock my sums

    Yes, “radiation” is far more complex than that and bananas are like London Buses – but at this scale it seems likely almost any ground disturbance will be seen?

    The Guardian and those folk from Harvard are out to scaremonger = mendacious cvnts

  7. elsewhere

    That “you’ve killed half the Great Barrier Reef with YOUR 4×4″ thing that’s circling the planet would be good to dismantle. The £20 paper apparently uses proxies as opposed to the view from a satellite where half of a 2500km reef system missing might be fairly obvious – and if I’m not mistaken the source data isn’t provided for general inspection.

    Carefully crafted press release though = be nice to see it eh?

  8. Did a vac job in the early nineties which involved analysing radiation levels around Koeberg Nuclear power station in the Cape. The health physics team there had just detected a high reading of radiation from one of the dairy farms used as a control (40km away) which was higher than readings within the boundary fence. On investigation, the farm was run according to strict organic methods and this caused an increase in K40 (IIRC) in the milk. The cause was the way they fertilised the fields with cowshit only.

  9. @BiND

    Sure it’s possible, but you only need to ground yourself by other means accidentally and you’ll have a bad day.

    So still not recommended, unless you know exactly what you’re doing. 🙂

  10. Downwind? Beta radiation doesn’t get blown by the wind.

    Atomic decay produces alpha, beta, and some gamma rays. Therefore radioactive particles must have been blown downwind of the fracking site presumably. If they are detecting only beta radiation they need to check their monitoring equipment, because they do not exist on their own or they are picking up background radiation.

    Alpha and beta are easily stopped, gamma not so. The skin stops alpha, beta will penetrate the skin but stopped by a few centimetres of body tissue, or a thin piece of perplex or aluminium. But intensity is important – it is inversely proportional to square root of distance from a point source. To absorb any meaningful does would require close proximity to a large source or to swallow or inhale radioactive particles in quantity.

  11. And.

    The Becquerel is the unit measure of radioactive decay and is of no value in determining biological effect, the unit measure of which is the gray Gy.

    How much is absorbed depends on type of radiation – beta is least absorbed, intensity and in the case of beta whether the source is inside or outside of the body.

  12. “a thin piece of perplex”: some typos are so brilliant they should be celebrated.

    I suppose a fat piece of perplex could describe Cap’n Tattie.

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