, 19 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
The bannerfarm masquerading as a news outlet that is @Plymouth_Live has probably outdone itself in frankly stupid scaremongering. Totally ill-informed - basic use of a dictionary would have helped. This article on the “radioactive” areas of #plymouth plymouthherald.co.uk/news/plymouth-… >
< is on the basis of an electromagnetic radiation detector. That isn’t radioactivity. Let’s just clear that one up first: radioactivity is the decay of atomic nucleic in unstable isotopes like hydrogen-3 (tritium), carbon-14, potassium-40, uranium-238 etc, causing the release of>
< particles namely α particles (helium nuclei), β particles (fast-moving electrons or positrons), Auger electrons; or γ rays (low-wavelength photons - same as X-rays but produced differently), or occasionally proton or neutron emission. α, β & γ radiation are the kinds that >
< can be (subject to amount, level of energy, level of exposure etc) harmful to living organisms. The cheap EM detector used by @Plymouth_Live cannot detect any of the above, ergo, it does not detect radioactivity. Thus the title of the article is misleading, scaremongering and >
< just utter tosh. The detector instead quantifies both electric field strength (E-field) and magnetic field strength (H-field). E-field is measured in volts per metre (V/m); H-field in Tesla, or in this meter’s case, millionths of Tesla or micro-Tesla (μT). The “harmful” alarm >
< on this meter triggers at 40 V/m and 0.4 μT. For the sake of argument let’s assume this £15 Amazon item is 1) accurate and was 2) used correctly. E-field first of all is basically a measure of how much force is exerted on a charged particle by an electric field. If you have >
< every combed your hair with a plastic comb then used the comb to pick up scraps of paper, you’re seeing particles (paper) moving in an electric field, in basic terms. Nothing sinister about that, it’s just basic physics. If you want to consider “harmful” effects of E-field, >
< start at the top end. If you have a strong enough E-field, air breaks down and becomes electrically conducting - you see this with lightening or “arcing” in electrical equipment. This happens at > 3,000,000 V/m. The average E-field level in the home varies around the world >
< and by how many electrical appliances such as printers, televisions, radios, coffee machines etc you have. Averages of 50-70 V/m are pretty common. Offices are a bit lower, usually. E-fields under a high-voltage powerline can reach about 10,000 V/m. Standing 30 cm away from >
< a turned-on vacuum cleaner is 50 V/m, so above the so-called “harmful” alarm on this device. A fridge is 120 V/m! The WHO recommend we limit ourselves to not more than 5,000 V/m at any point in time - 125x higher than the “harmful” alarm on this item. As for H-field, the >
< guideline value from the WHO is 100 μT at any time: 250x the “harmful” alarm on this item! Typical values 30 cm away from items are: radio 1 μT, vacuum cleaner 20 μT, fridge 0.25 μT. So when the journalist herein got a “harmful” alarm going off and a reading of 0.9 μT, what >
< does that indicate? They were stood quite near to someone’s radio. A 1 m distance from a vacuum cleaner or a microwave oven or a TV or a dishwasher would give similar readings. Is there anything special about George St/Clowance St/Clowance Cl where a 1 μT value was found and >
< was the highest they could find in Plymouth? Not really. It’s just a residential street. On that junction you have flats, HMOs and houses surrounding it - many dwellings means many electrical items. A dozen people watching TV could have done that. I am of course making the >
< perhaps naïve assumption that the @Plymouth_Live journalist behind this was not stood next to or inside of their car, didn’t have a car radio on, didn’t have a switched-on mobile phone in their pocket and so on and so forth, all of which could cause a false positive. I have no>
< idea what the actual accuracy of this device is but it purports to be 1 V/m and 0.01 μΤ. Given it works down to 5Hz, that is the range of ELF radiowave emitted by 60Hz high-voltage power lines from substations to homes so again, at a junction and near to many dwellings, it is >
< very likely that gave the “high” reading but as the alarm activates WELL below what the WHO (the ones to trust for these things!) declares as safe/unsafe, this article is just preying on ppl’s fears, profiting from worrying people who may already have enough on their plate, >
< wrongly make people think their home is “radioactive” when that isn’t even what these @Plymouth_Live writers (I can’t call them journalists as the latter have some degree of responsibility) measured, generally cause ill-feeling towards/fear of HMNB Devonport and of the nuclear>
< submarines therein etc etc. I was talking to a colleague just yesterday about how newspapers/etc seem to increasingly care less and less about getting the science right and don’t care who it scares/upsets/etc. This is a prime example.
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