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Re: Homemade Geiger Counter

> We have an RM-60, and one of the kids won a science fair at her school 
> using the device.  Her project was:  "What common household item has the 
> highest radiation level."
> Do you know what won?  A mantle from a Coleman lantern (Thorium Salt), 
> followed by a brightly glazed clay figurine from Mexico.

Where I used to work a couple decades ago, we did a bit of work with 
radioactive tracers, and to make sure that our counters were working, we had an 
ash-tray made by Fiesta-Ware or something like that.  I think the reddish 
glazing had uranium in it.  It was pretty hot.   Although one time, when 
checking my counter, I held the probe over the ash-tray, then aimed it away to 
get a background count, only the background was higher.  I thought perhaps I 
was somehow getting radiation out of the sky, so I aimed it at the floor, and 
the background was still higher.  Then I put the probe right over the cement 
floor, and the counter went off scale.   It was only then that my boss told me 
that they once did some projects with some potent radioactive materials in that 
building (which explained the 1 foot thick cement doors on the room that needed 
a motor to open).  Had to call in the NRC, and they tried to remove the 
contamination by jack-hammering up the cement floor, but when that didn't work, 
they just covered it with a half inch lead carpet.  I don't think the company I 
worked for exists anymore, and I sometimes wonder if whoever is now working 
there wonders why there is lead on the floor.
   But back to the original topic. If you go to antique stores, you can 
sometimes find the old red-orange Fiesta-ware pottery, which is quite 
radioactive.    I've also been told that the ash from a coal burning electric 
plant can be relatively radioactive as well.

Bill Jones   Sweden, Maine wejones at megalink dot net
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