Friday, July 8, 2011

Radioactive Container Truck Spewing Gamma Rays Into Traffic on I-270

7/15/11 UPDATE:

After some research, a person next to a truck legally shipping radioactive materials could expect a dosage between 10 mR/Hr to 200 mR/Hr.

According to the government, a pregnant woman should avoid anything greater than 2 mR/Hr. At max, if she stayed next to such a truck for more than 15 minutes should would be required to wear a dosimeter for the rest of her pregnancy.

At 30 minutes she would have to avoid all other exposure for the remainder of the pregnancy.

The younger the baby is in the gestational period, the greater the risk of miscarriage. A woman early enough in her pregnancy to not know she is pregnant might actually miscarry from a passing "legal" exposure.

As I initially indicated in this post, the lesson learned is to AVOID RADIOACTIVE TRUCKS!

We got stuck next to this truck during the 7pm July 1st holiday traffic on North bound I-270, after seeing the Radioactive warning placards we pulled out the Geiger Counter and Camera. Lesson learned, AVOID RADIOACTIVE TRUCKS!

The Geiger counter samples over a 30 second moving average, updated every 3 seconds. Notice how the reading on the Geiger Counter keeps moving upwards after we pass the truck; had we stayed next to the radioactive truck the readings would have went even higher.

Pray for the truck driver; the source of gamma rays appeared to be located almost directly behind the driver. One would think that these things would be much more heavily shielded, located further away from the driver, and that such materials would be transported when other people are not on the road.
The truck exited I-270 at Lilac Ave.


  1. Lesson learned...according to a quick google search an xray of one of your limbs is about 1 MREM. This instrument says 0.3 MREMs per you'd have to sit near that truck for over 3 hours to get the same dosage that you'd get from an xray of your arm. By comparison, you receive ~310 mrem of radiation per year from nature and another ~300 per year from man-made about 2 mrem per day. A single dose of 450,000 mrem has a 50/50 chance of killing you. In conclusion, the people driving by the truck were fine...and even the driver is fine, he got the equivalent of a CT Scan.

  2. Here is a question to anyone who says the situation was safe and/or legal:

    "If a pregnant woman is stuck in traffic next to a radioactive container truck operating at its maximum legal limit of radioactivity, how long should the pregnant woman remain stuck in traffic next to that truck before she should flee her vehicle for the safety of her child?"

    In regards to the specifics of this truck, the Geiger reading never stabilized to its maximum level. It takes about 30 seconds to get the accurate maximum. Moreover the Geiger counter reading of mR/hr is calibrated to Cesium 137, if we knew the radionuclides they had on board the actual reading might yet be higher still.

  3. You should really review 10CFR20.