Some crappy radiological terminology.

Unlike the media, we in the rad business seldom say “radiation is leaking”. The meaning is understood, but it blurs the line between radiation and contamination. And news reports constantly confuse the two. So, if you’ll pardon a barnyard vulgarity, the difference between contamination and radiation is the difference between shit and stink.

Walk past a pile of s**t and you’re exposed to the stench. It is emitted, maximizing near closest approach and dwindling as you scamper away. Go far enough and you’re no longer exposed.

Suppose you step in it? Then you’re now craptaminated (to coin a phrase) and will be exposed to the stink until decraptaminated.

(No, this isn’t exact, since the stink actually is the s**t, only airborne. But emitted radiations are waves or particles differing from their sources.)

Anyway, this is why I may seem relatively blase’ about radiation exposures, but not about contamination and internal exposures.

Well, as someone who once exhaled radioactive breath for hours, I can say that noble gas “contamination” isn’t as bad as other sorts.

So, to sum it up: you aren’t contaminated by radiation, you are irradiated by contamination.

About wormme

I've accepted that all of you are socially superior to me. But no pretending that any of you are rational.
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8 Responses to Some crappy radiological terminology.

  1. Tim says:

    Here is a comment from Zero Hedge, I think many people would feel better if it were debunked.
    The Unit 1 and 3 spent fuel pools are most likely without cooling or makeup capability. If they are not dry now, then they will be soon. In addition, since the pools are open to the atmosphere and are at the top floor of the reactor buildings which have been blown off in huge explosions, wouldn’t it be possible that the fuel assemblies, and perhaps even the fuel pool structures themselves, have already been damaged by falling debris. Unless the internal structures of the pool are maintained to provide adequate spacing for the fuel assemblies, there is a probable risk of criticality occuring in the pools if water remains. If the water is drained or boiled off, then the decay heat from the fuel assemblies will fail the cladding, internal structure of the pools and then the bottom liner rendering the pools completely useless. A fire in a spent fuel pool means that the worst has occurred.

    • wormme says:

      Little Miss Attila alerted me to the fuel pool situation and my latest post addresses it. I did assume there remains enough water to provide shielding for personnel to make up the water losses.

      But if there isn’t, he could be right and the worst has occurred. However, even the worst in this case doesn’t mean anyone will be outright killed by radiation. The likeliest radiological fatality remains someone choosing a heroic death.

  2. Pingback: Characteristics of radiation(s) and shielding(s). | World's Only Rational Man

  3. Sparkey says:

    I remember the day I first heard that analogy in Nuc School back in the good ol’days when it was in sunny (and rainy every day at 3 PM) Orlando FLA. Every time I hear the usage “leak” I cringe…

  4. Pingback: Radiation “seepage”, I-131 “light”, and don’t eat the brown kukitachina, man. | World's Only Rational Man

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