Can the Radalert™ 100 and Inspector Alert™ Handheld Nuclear Radiation Monitors be used to analyze food and drinks?

Document ID

Document ID TE3536

Version

Version 3.0

Status

Status Published

Published Date

Published Date 10/11/2018
Question
Can the Radalert™ 100 and Inspector Alert™ Handheld Nuclear Radiation Monitors be used to analyze food and drinks?
Summary
Radalert™ 100 and Inspector Alert™ Handheld Nuclear Radiation Monitors to analyze food and drinks
Answer
Accurate measurement of radiation in food requires a multi-channel analyzer and a special oven for ashing the food to concentrate the radioactivity. The Radalert™ 100 and Inspector Alert™ Handheld Nuclear Radiation Monitors (Product # 2884000 and 2884200) have been used for experimental, educational, and screening purposes in checking food.
Measuring radiation in food is tricky. Naturally occurring radiation in potassium-rich food (such as bananas, when dried into banana chips, and salt substitutes) from Potassium 40 can easily be detected with the Inspector Alert™. In the case of fallout from nuclear testing or accidents (such as Chernobyl), Strontium 90, Cesium 137, and possibly Plutonium 239 would commonly be tested. The Inspector Alert™ is the best for this application because of its high sensitivity. The Inspector Alert™ efficiency for Sr90 and Cs137 beta is good, and it does detect the Cs137 gamma. It also does detect Pu239, but Pu239 can have health effects at very low concentrations, which can be difficult to detect with any instrument.
Before screening for radiation in food, establish a baseline measurement in the same location where you plan to test the food. It is best to accumulate the baseline counts for 12 hours as described below:
1) The mica window of the instrument should be placed directly over the food you are measuring. It should be placed as close as possible without touching. In the case of milk or other liquids, fill a container very close to the top so you can measure directly, without the glass in the way. If all the liquid is from the same source, boiling or evaporating the sample can help to concentrate it for easier measurement.
2) Set the display to Total and accumulate the counts for 12 hours in each location.
3) Divide the total count for the period by the exact number of minutes to get the average counts per minute (cpm).


 

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