Oh, It’s Just Tritium In The River! Relax!

Obviously I’m being ridiculous.  Despite the post title, I am actually the kind of person who worries about invisible carcinogenic, mutagenic particles .   Sue me, but I’m a little disturbed by the lackadaisical attitude we have about nuclear WASTE.  And yes, tritium is nuclear waste!

But really, don’t worry because it’s all around us.  It’s up in the atmosphere from radioactive explosions before I was born!  We all get a background dose of it.  Some of us are lucky enough to get extra.  You probably want to know where you can pick up some extra don’t you?  Well, if you break one of those self illuminating Exit signs, like the ones they have or used to have at Walmart- You win!

Read this-

It’s estimated there are more than 2 million tritium-based exit signs in use across North America.

It turns out that Ontario-based companies SRB Technologies (Canada) Inc. of Pembroke and Shield Source Inc. of Peterborough have sold the lion’s share of these signs, which use tritium produced as a by-product from the operation of Canadian-made Candu nuclear reactors.

The health effects of tritium exposure continue to be a hot topic of debate. It’s not strong enough to penetrate the skin, and in low quantities regulators and industry groups say tritium is safe. But when inhaled or ingested it can cause permanent changes to cells and has been linked to genetic abnormalities, developmental and reproductive problems and other health issues such as cancer.

“The problem is that because it’s hydrogen it can actually become part of your body,” says Shawn-Patrick Stensil of Greenpeace Canada. “The radiation doesn’t emit far, but when it actually becomes part of your cell it’s right next to your DNA. So for a pregnant woman, for example, it can be really dangerous.”

General exposure from one broken sign might be the equivalent of getting up to three chest X-rays, even though today we no longer give pregnant women X-rays. If tritium is ingested, for example, by a child who breaks a sign with a hockey stick, it’s much more potent. If only 5 per cent of the tritium in a large exit sign is ingested, it would be equivalent to 208 years of natural background radiation, according to a report from the Product Stewardship Institute at the University of Massachusetts.

And what about exposure from thousands of signs dumped near a source of drinking water, or packed with explosives in the back of a truck that has been driven into a crowded building?

“I’m sure thousands of them would create a credible dirty bomb,” says Norm Rubin, director of nuclear research at Energy Probe in Toronto. “Most experts think the main purpose of a dirty bomb is to cause panic, disruption and expensive cleanup rather than lots of dead bodies. A bunch of tritium, especially if oxidized in an explosion, would probably do that job fine.”

Tritium is also a component in nuclear warheads. In 2005, SRB Technologies got permission from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to export 70,000 of its tritium exit signs to Iran. Foreign Affairs Canada blasted the regulator for allowing shipment to a country that’s attempting to develop weapons of mass destruction. The shipment went through.

South of the border, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission appears more concerned with tritium contamination of landfills and the threat of leaching into drinking water. The agency regulates the use of tritium devices, requiring the reporting of lost, stolen or broken property and proper cleanup and disposal.

“Throughout the whole process we stayed in very close contact with the NRC and received their guidance,” said Wal-Mart spokesperson Daphne Davis Moore. “We no longer use these signs in our stores.

Wal-Mart’s poor recordkeeping was a wake-up call for the nuclear agency, which in January sternly reminded users of the signs of their regulatory obligations. At the same time, it assured the public there’s nothing to worry about.

Still, the agency was concerned enough to demand that any organization possessing 500 or more tritium exit signs conduct audits and report their findings within 60 days. The list included Home Depot, AMC Theatres and a number of universities and schools.

Wal-Mart Canada says it has a few tritium exit signs in most of its stores. “We’ve gone back over our records and have not found any reason for concern,” said spokesperson Kevin Groh. “We are doing an audit to get an accurate inventory.” The difference, in Canada, is they don’t have to do it. Users of the signs are not licensed in Canada as long as the product is properly marked as radioactive, according to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. This makes it difficult to determine exactly how many tritium signs exist in Canada and where they end up.

So you see, we are fine.  Sure  we have some extra in our local river and  naturally I was a little concerned about what it is and what living with it could do to you.  But as you see, it appears that my worries were ill-founded.  It’s been in our environment for a while now and no one has died…as far as we know…yet.. well, not assuredly.

Besides, what do you think of  Canada they are using their excess tritium to cleverly make a buck.   Selling it to a company that makes self glowing Exit signs for commercial or residential buildings as well as street signs that “self glow”, why that is genius!   I’m sure there is proof somewhere that accidentally getting  that material on you puts you  in  much worse shape than someone who’s just living near a local waterway with tiny inconsequential bits of tritium.

Feel better?





Wanted: One Working Geiger Counter!

I know that a geiger counter isn’t going to measure all the nuclear energy I want to learn about, but what else is there?  I want a monitor to comfort myself.  Although I can’t tell you what I’d do with the information I got if I found out that there were high concentrations of nuclear products in our atmosphere.

You know what might be fun?  What about an interactive web page with an image like Munch’s “The Scream” that only fully loads when there is a Nuclear Event of public importance.  You could tap in the words “Nuclear Scream” and it would be like an app you could get for your phone or your ipod.

By the way, back to that Geiger counter?  I want one I can wear.  I’d also like one for my car and one to test the river.  I want one in my car and I’d like  one to pin on all my family members and friends.  Obviously I’ll need more than one.

Anyone have a few hundred Geiger counters lying around?




Releasing Nuclear Waste Is Routine! No Worries!

Evan Brandt, Ace Reporter over at the Mercury did it again!  He went hunting for information and surprisingly he got it! It was about Limerick and it’s cooling towers.  It seems that during one of their “routine” cleanings some of the flow of water entering the SCHUYKILL was possibly contaminated with minute amounts of nuclear waste.  As a matter of fact, it’s also possible that the force of the flow blew out a manhole cover?

I’m having a bit of trouble digesting this information because every time I start reading about it I find I have to pry my eyes open because they are  stuck shut in a wincing rictus.

I have a teenage daughter playing about in the Schuykill River.  But of course this nuclear release was normal and it wasn’t an EPPI.  I don’t need to know that there are possibly higher levels of tritium, or cobalt, or any other nuclear waste in the river.

I can’t comment on this.  It is beyond my ability at this moment to comprehend it.  Luckily there are other folks who aren’t willing to walk around with their eyes shut- like Evan!  And like this guy over at Counterpunch who’s followed up on Evan’s work-

As Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the NRC’s Southeast Pennsylvania Regional Office, explains, “Periodically, to clean their cooling tower water pipes, the operator will have a ‘blow-down’ where they pump a lot of clean water through the system to push out collected sediment. When they do that, whey are allowed to add some reactor water to it. This is an acceptable method, well within federal safety levels” for radio isotopes.  Sheehan explained that while the concentration of Tritium and other radioactive elements in the 15,000-gallon reactor waste-water tank would have exceeded federal safety levels for release into the environment, by first diluting it with all the water being used for the cooling tower “blowdown” process, and then dumping the resulting water into the large river, it would all be diluted to below federal safety levels.

“It’s nothing we would try to disguise,” said Sheehan.

Maybe, but then why was this dumping process being done by Exelon at the peculiar time of 3 a.m., and why was Exelon so anxious to avoid having to report it? 

Lewis Cuthbert, a retired schools superintendent who lives with his wife Donna in the shadow of the Limerick cooling towers, has been a critic of the plant and its owners for 15 years. He says, “I don’t believe the NRC or Exelon have ever before said that the plant ‘routinely’ releases nuclear waste into the environment.”




Pottstown Felt Quiet Today

As I was driving around town today I thought that it felt rather quiet.  Did anyone else notice that?  I don’t know if it was the chill in the air, or maybe everyone has gone on vacation?  Things just seemed quiet!

It looks like a new Cafe will be opening on King Street in the same block with the Salvation Army.  I didn’t see a sign that showed any information but I promise that if I  find out anything more about it I’ll post it here.

I made it over to Weiss after work.  The prices were as insane as usual on most food items.  While I was back at the meat counter I started talking with another shopper and we were agonizing over the prices.  I just couldn’t help myself.  We both wandered along gazing longingly over cuts of beef that were priced out of my comfort zone for sure!  I noticed a pack of ground pork.  It was cheap.  I asked my new friend what you’d do with ground pork.  She said she didn’t know,she had a pack in her freezer at home already, but then she said she sometimes bought name brand sausage which has all the seasonings that her family likes and she mixes in the ground pork.  I thought that was a genius plan so I did the same thing myself.

Overall, things are quiet here in town.





Scary Story About A “Paleo Food” Blogger!

Megan Garber over at the Atlantic has a story about a gentleman named Steve Cooksey that freaked me out a bit.

It seems Mr. Cooksey was diagnosed with Type II diabetes and so he changed his world by trying what some have called the Paleo Diet.  It is a diet really high in protein without many carbs.  Imagine what our ancient ancestors might have eaten a million years ago.  Steve thought it was worth a try and his results were brilliant in that he lost weight and more importantly lost the diagnosis of Type II diabetes.

Now he’s facing a backlash by licensed state dieticians because he’s giving advice which is against the law.  Since he has no license, or no advanced degrees he is not a specialist and he can’t recommend others follow his paleo lifestyle. He is being asked to rewrite his blog.

Okay, on the one hand I get what is happening.  If he’s making any profit from his blog then he’s unfortunately selling his diet and he is acting in a way that suggests that he is a professional.  On the other hand, it’s also true that we have lots of folks creating diets that have absolutely no physiological benefit and don’t pretend to and yet those folks are selling their blogs and their work in public without needing advanced degrees in nutrition.

As a matter of fact, there are other people offering ideas on nutrition that aren’t licensed dieticians- Michelle  Obama is a fine example- but since her ideas reflect the currently approved regimen that the government recommends I guess she’s safe.

A while back I tried eating a bit of the paleo diet with the whey pancakes and I posted about it here.  I hated the taste of the food.  I mentioned that I hated the taste.  You’ll notice that I got a couple of responses about my post the other day.  I was surprised that someone was offering me free advice!  It wasn’t very detailed advice- but it surprised me nonetheless.  Now I’m not quite so surprised.

Before I close this post I’d  like to make mention once again that I am NOTHING.  I have no degrees in anything that would make me worth listening to in any way.

There, that said whey pancakes still tasted like crap to me, but I hate to think that because of a lack of state licensing it would be illegal for me to read about something called “whey protein pancakes” in the first place.

Bottom line?  We live in a weird world.  What can you expect though?  I hear humans are in charge! 🙂




My Computer’s Clean!

Have you been reading about the tricky plan the US Government was using to redirect hacked servers that they are going to shut down in July which will possibly leave a lot of folks without an internet connection?

It’s a confusing bunch of mumbo-jumbo to me, but I read about it over at Forbes and I thought it couldn’t hurt to check to see if my computer was infected.  So I went to this site which Lolita C. Baldor from the Star Tribune recommended and I clicked a button and I came up clear-


I either will now have access to the internet in July, or I just connected my poor little computer to a lousy hacker that will scour my computer’s ability to access the internet in July.  Heh, I’m not sure!




Can I Fix Your House?

When I drive around town I get to see a lot of really sweet places where  people live.  Pottstown has a lot of fabulous houses.  So does Stowe and the Pottsgroves!  So does North Coventry and Spring City.   Of course I also see places that aren’t quite so charming, but honestly, those houses are few far between.  Overall we are  very lucky to have so many styles and so many unique buildings in our communities.

When I drive around though, sometimes I want to fix something like a fence that is missing some boards, or a window that could really use a scrubbing, or a tree that has a vine of poison ivy crawling up it.  I’ve seen things like a limb caught on a garage roof, or a bunch of bushes that have overgrown the front step, or a curb that has a major crack in it.  I want to fix those things!

Of course I don’t want to paint my own garage!  That would be too much work and it would take too long and then I’d have to redo the deck and then I’d have to get the flower boxes filled and then I’d have to…well you know how it goes, but it is so easy for me to see someone else’s place and say, gee, if only you painted that garage door it would really fix your curb appeal.

But I don’t think anyone would appreciate me just showing up out front of their house to fix things that I think need fixing!  Plus I’d be afraid they’d come to my house and start fixing things…wait a minute…what is there to be afraid of?  If a group of people pulled up out front of my place and said “We really need to cut back this maple”.  I’d be bringing them gingerbread cake and lemonade.

So…who’s willing to have me come and fix something at their house?  Anyone?

Oh, don’t ask me to fix roofs or anything structural or mechanical.  It ain’t gonna happen!  Oh, it also can’t take days and days and days.  It’s got to be a relatively quick fix.  I don’t know, something like mop off a porch, fix a hanging light, pop in a few fence boards, paint a shutter, weed an overgrown garden.

If I come I will play music, stop regularly for breaks, and I won’t put up with large barking animals.

Oh, also, if I come, I might just have some friends helping me out.




Why I’m Taking Copper Supplements!

The other day I was reading something that turned me onto the idea that copper was an important part of my diet that I was missing.  I heard someone saying that if they didn’t have enough copper in their system  then they might be unable to complete a stress test easily.  I couldn’t figure out why copper was so important.  I mean I always thought I tasted copper on my skin when I was sweating, or in my blood when I cut a finger and I automatically would pop it into my mouth.  But I never heard of anyone taking additional copper!

I checked out my multivitamin.  It had 45 percent of the RDA of copper in it.  That seemed so odd to me since there were some other vitamins and minerals that were at much higher levels.  Why was there so little copper?

When I read about copper toxicity I found out that it could make you sick, horribly sick, it could even make you DIE.  But I couldn’t find a lot of studies that showed folks dying from copper overloads.  It was another thing that seemed odd to me.

I found some studies that said that patients that had heart attacks or strokes, or serious illnesses had a lot of copper showing up in those organs.  But the science was leaning towards the fact that maybe bodies metabolize extra copper when there is an “incident”.  Rather than the concept that these folks had too much copper in their systems and that the copper caused the heart attack.

Then I found a study that talked about the French having fewer heart attacks.  It said that they drank a lot of red wine, which I had heard prevented heart attacks, but it told me more about why red wine as opposed to white wine helped.  This study said that the red wine was made with the skins that had been sprayed with copper fungicides while in the growing stages.

Hmmm.  So the french have fewer heart attacks because of ingesting copper fungicide????

I remember as a child I was a sickly sort of kid.  I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with anemia.  Therefore I took a daily dose of iron.  It tasted like drinking liquid metal.  I felt worse. And my teeth turned a dark yellowish color.

Strangely, now I find that a copper deficiency would also appear as anemia.  Taking extra iron would deplete the body further of copper!   Adding copper to your diet won’t turn your teeth yellow!

If only we had the internet then!

So what can you get copper from naturally so you don’t need to use a supplement?  Green leafy veggies, liver, almonds, soy, whole grains.

How can you lose copper?  Well, a high fructose corn syrup based diet isn’t going to help you retain it!  At least it didn’t with some friendly test rats.

Copper helps your body with melanin.  While I don’t know if it’s going to help me get color back into my hair, I do believe it’s possible that my greying hair has something to do with a copper deficiency!

Of course I’m not a nutritionist,  I’m just grabbing at straws to try to retain some youthful vigor as I get older, but damnit, I’m trying!

I’ll let you know what happens with the copper regimen.  I’ve taken 2 mg a day for the past week.  It seems like I can take up to 3mg a day without any danger.  I will not continue to take it as a daily supplement because it may tend to build up in my body over time and I don’t want to harm myself in any way.

Wish me luck!






I Voted!

I’m bragging because I voted.  Me and about 300 other people in my voting district have voted!  That is so sad!

I had my photo ID and it was a good thing because they checked.  I got my ballot and I filled in the little balloons and I was in and out in less than 15 minutes.

I’m a Democrat so I voted Democrat in the primary.  Go Trivedi! 🙂

I voted for a guy from the 82nd Airborne.

I voted for a bunch of people who will vote for Obama at the Democratic National Convention.

It wasn’t very hard and I hope it was helpful.  We’ll see.





Ultrasound Safe? Not With This Gel!

Whenever you hear that something is “completely safe” you have got to wonder!  I justn happened across this story about contaminated gel sickening patients who received ultrasounds.

You read it!

Federal law enforcement officials have seized several lots of ultrasound gel from a New Jerseycompany after the product tested positive for bacterial contamination.

The Food and Drug Administration says the gel tested positive for two strains of dangerous bacteria. The agency reports at least 16 patients at one hospital were infected with bacteria from the product. The gel is used to enhance ultrasound medical images.

U.S. marshals seized all lots of Other-Sonic generic ultrasound gel made between June 2011 and December 2011 by Newark, N.J.-based Pharmaceutical Innovations.

The FDA urges health care professionals not to use containers labeled with lot numbers: 060111, 090111 and 120111. Doctors should identify and assess the health of patients who may have been treated with contaminated gel.