Preparing for Radiation Events

Topics in this category pertain to planning. Discussions include how to prepare yourself, your family and your community for catastrophes and what you plan to do when they hit you.

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Liff
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Preparing for Radiation Events

Post by Liff » Sun Jul 10, 2011 1:54 pm

Table of contents:
1. Introduction
2. This entire thread in two paragraphs thanks to Bunsen
3. Bug out vs Bug in
4. Potassium iodide and radiation pills
5. Radiation suits
6. Basic equipment
7. Air and water filtration
8. Radiation decontamination
9. Types of radiation
10. Radiobiology
11. Time distance shielding
12. Shielding and shelter design
13. Radiation detection
14. Summation

Original thread: http://www.zombiehunters.org/forum/view ... =6&t=77549" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Disclaimer: If you read that thread and kept up with the discussion, there is nothing new here. This is just that information in a more presentable and concise format. Read "this entire thread in two paragraphs thanks to Bunsen" and maybe the summation at the end and you are back up to speed.

1) Introduction

Why write about this topic and waste all of my time? Seriously? Well, I am looking to help people, and that is all. I contributed a lot to the other thread, but I am writing this to clear up the beginning of that thread and to provide a more non-confrontational and hopefully rational presentation of what I know. Also, I want this to be easy to digest and able to be understood by 99% of people. Not very in depth, but very condensed, useful information with very little jargon used.

Thanks largely to the Japan event; most people have become aware that they themselves are radioactive. This was normally the first thing I would talk about with people who didn’t know better because it would open their eyes a little bit. The question I ask now is why is Chernobyl still a radioactive wasteland and Nagasaki and Hiroshima still inhabited? In fact, people have always lived in and around Nagasaki and Hiroshima every day since the bomb went off. This is actually very important to the discussion.

Many nuclear guides are out there, including Nuclear War Survival Skills and the LDS outline. I prefer the LDS outline because it is more concise and has less errors (I’ll show a couple later) than NWSS. The huge problem is that these guides are limited in scope to a nuclear war. Please re-read the paragraph above this one if you need to see the difference between a nuclear weapon event vs. a reactor melt down event. All right then, what about a dirty bomb event?

So you can see that I am not trying to re-write the guidelines, but to provide a guide as in depth as it needs to be and no more. In order to provide that guide, I need to show why other guides for a specific event do not cover all events. I am not criticizing these guides, but showing the deficiencies if applied to a different topic.

Very specifically to start, the NWSS says it will be fine to come out of your shelter in 2 days time. I disagreed with this in the other thread because of the type of the event, and I was accused of telling myths. Everyone here can tell me if it is safe around Chernobyl presently. It will be like this in Japan also. I said the book was wrong for this type of event with that time recommendation, and time has proven me correct.

I bring up that point to be able to say that I have the education, training, and experience in dealing with the same radioactive material they are currently dealing with in the reactor fallout. And I can be completely wrong. One of the best things about industry publications is that they are peer reviewed prior to publication. This series of posts are not. I am not ‘attacking’ anyone, if you disagree, ask why and if I know the answer, I’ll tell you. I will try to reference as well.

If Bunsen or Bae say I am wrong or off slightly, pay attention, because I probably am wrong. I don’t know either of these guys (?) in real life, but from the diction of their posts, they also know what they are talking about. They are going to be as close as it gets to a ‘peer review’ and if they comment, please accept it as coming from a position of knowledge.

Remember two things; one is that the path is wide in some places and narrow in others. No matter though, there is a path. Stay somewhere on that path and you will be as good as it gets. Most likely this information is not going to be needed by anyone. Odds are you should fully fund your retirement program, have some food and water saved up, be out of debt with a financial reserve in place, and be prepared to enjoy life.

The other important thing to remember is that most people have no idea what they are talking about when the topic is radiation. I have read less than intelligent things on the interwebs about this topic, some are just crazy, like a nuclear bomb produces Alpha particles, and the explosion comes from the helium generated. No. The real reason is E=mc2. When mass is converted into energy, a large explosion happens, and the more efficiently the mass is converted into energy, the larger the explosion.

This is where the weapon vs. reactor difference is, the weapons are not designed to be radioactive, where as a reactor meltdown will generate orders of magnitude greater amounts of radioactive particles as compared to a weapon.

The US has dropped over 1,000 nuclear bombs on ourselves. And yet if we had a single reactor melt down, we would have some serious radioactive wastelands. Huge difference in the type of radioactive event. Huge difference in how you should prepare.

2) This entire thread in two paragraphs thanks to Bunsen
The worst of the danger comes from the risk of ingesting or inhaling alpha-emitting isotopes. While your skin stops alpha particles just fine, they tear the shit out of your cells and DNA if they're emitted within the body. Second-worst is having beta emitters (don't worry about the +/-, it doesn't affect this scale of things much) on or near your skin (or ingested). A mask keeps radioactive dust out of your lungs, and a dust-proof suit lets you get it away from your skin soon after exposure (keeping the beta emitters outside your clothing offers some direct protection as well).

Gamma emitters are only a concern once you've got the protection from alpha and beta emitters taken care of. When you read about needing so many inches or feet of dirt to protect from radiation, that's assuming you've already eliminated direct exposure to the dust and/or gas and are only worried about gamma radiation. For most radiological disasters, that's not the case -- the order of response is usually (A) protect from inhaled particles, (B) protect from dust on skin, (C) GTFO (though doing C first is a good option too). The emphasis on hiding in buried fallout shelters comes from planning for nuclear war, where there would be nowhere to GTFO to.
My stupid commentary on the two best paragraphs in this thread: Pay attention to (A), (B), and (C). This topic really is that simple. Even more concise: (1) dust=bad, (2) distance=good. It does not matter the type of radiation event. Everything else from here on out is just foot notes.

3) Bug out vs Bug in

This is a very concerning issue for a lot of us. Believe it or not, you already know what to do. Think about this in a manner that you already know. For example: if a hurricane is on the way, are you going to bug out or bug in?

All of a sudden, the issue is no longer as clear as black and white. Is the hurricane going to directly hit your area? How big is the hurricane, Category 1 or 5? How far to the ocean are you? How much beer do you have? (When I was stationed on Okinawa this was my primary concern for the cyclones.)

The problem here is that a radiation event is also like an earthquake. You wouldn’t have much warning if or when it is on the way. That said, would you immediately bug out if an earthquake struck your area? Clearly there are many ways to think of this issue, but a good guide is next.

When the weatherman says that a hurricane is on the way, do you scoff because he is from the government and he is telling you the government propaganda? I would bet not. If there is a radioactive event, do what the experts recommend. If they say that the area you are in should bug out, do it. They will also be able to tell you where to bug out to or at least how far away to go.

Basically, there is not a whole lot to this part. If you are thinking about this more than you would for any other disaster, you are overthinking this issue.

4) Potassium iodide and radiation pills

Raptor helps us out with words of knowledge and reason, “The other thing is that iodine pills only protect the thyroid gland. They offer no protection for the rest of the body. They are not a panacea. Would I take them? Absolutely. However, be advised that taking them is like putting on a life jacket before you jump into 40 degree water without an exposure suit. Better than nothing, but not much better.”

The best guidance can be found from the FDA. Their guidance is after studying what happened at Chernobyl and what doses should be administered to people. I know it is hard to argue with science, but some people will do it.

Please notice how if you are over 40, you don’t need these pills except in the most extreme situations. If you are over 40 and this event happens, find some children and give them your pills. Please.

Iodide vs. Iodine: there is a difference here. Iodide is like chloride, iodine is like chlorine. How much chlorine would you drink? How much bleach would you drink? You should drink the same amount of iodine, which is none at all. Do not drink betadine or iodine. Seriously, read Raptor’s advice again and then put the iodine down. One is a poison; the other is a necessary nutrient.

Some guides out there advocate “in an emergency” you can paint the iodine on your skin. You all are preparedness people, and that is a BS excuse for us. Go buy some potassium iodide (KI) tablets if you want to.

As for me, I have no potassium iodide tablets. I am too old for them to work to protect my thyroid. I understand that jumping into the North Sea will kill me no matter if I am wearing a life jacket or not. And so long as it is not TEOTWAWKI, there is thyroid replacement medicine available at every pharmacy.

Last thing here, if you stock this, potassium iodide (KI) tablets never expire (if stored correctly). Seriously. Most medicines do expire sooner or later for real, but these do not. Potassium Iodide is a salt just like sodium chloride (NaCl) or potassium chloride (KCl), and these salts are as stable as it gets. If the tablet is past its expiration date, crush/dissolve it before you consume it.

http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/Guid ... 080542.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

5) Radiation suits
Radiation suits do not protect you from radiation.

They protect you from dust.

Remember how dust=bad and distance=good? All a radiation suit does is protect your skin from direct contamination from dust (which is assumed to be radioactive). The same with a respirator, it protects by preventing the dust from going inside of you.

I mean real respirators here folks, not the N95 or N100 masks. Those masks don’t protect you from getting the flu, they help people with the flu not spread the flu. This isn’t what you want. You want a real filter that seals around your mouth and nose analogous to a gas mask. Although, I would recommend a civilian version instead.

For a suit, I would simply recommend one of the tyvek or similar painters suits. Lightweight and designed to keep the paint off of you, so they will work great for dust too. Remember to take these suits/cover garments off outside of your living area. The reason is to avoid bringing in the dust. Other garments that would work very well are things like raincoats or any other type of long coat. Just looking for something to keep the dust off of your skin while being able to remove this part of clothing outside of your living area. Take your shoes off before you go inside, and cover your shoes with something while you are inside.

More equipment recommendations follow.

6) Basic equipment

Look to CitizenZ for the most comprehensive list I have seen. It is on page two of the first thread. It is kind of long and has some very advanced things. For example: an outdoor shower (for the dust). Now you would need a walkway from the shower area to the ‘clean’ area, a way to wash that off before you step on it, etc, etc. If you want a list like that, you want some training from some people who work in the industry like me. This is the basics, or the idea Raptor says, “The topic is nuclear safety issues. What should we know? What should we avoid? What should we do to improve the odds for our family?”

Liff's set up: HEPA filter, kick ass vacuum (with extra belts, bags, and HEPA filters), Swifter cloths, outside clothes, and a wide brimmed hat. The room HEPA air filter and vacuum with HEPA filter are pretty self explanatory. The Swifter cloths to clean up dust while not allowing the dust to go into the air. The outside clothes is essentially my "radiation suit". The wide brimmed hat is to keep dust off of my hair and head. This is what I have and what I plan on using. If I was to upgrade more, I would get respirators and replacement filters for everyone in the area I care about. That is it. If I really needed more than this, I should be following option C, which is to GTFO.


7) Air and water filtration

The idea here is to remove dust. As much dust as you can, so high quality HEPA air filters is a great idea. If these filters are powered by electricity, the better. Most good vacuums have a HEPA air filter on them also. Vacuum your house like crazy, maybe even have a spare HEPA filter around to ensure your vaccum functions well. (Who would have thought a vacuum is a 'preparation item'?) If no electricity, then a gas mask is a great idea, and the civilian versions are a greater idea. The paper masks are not a great idea. Something with a rubber gasket that seals around your face is what you need. Around your eyes is a better idea.

There will be a separate thread on air and water filtration for radioactive contaminates. This topic is a bit too large to put into a paragraph or two. In a couple of days I should have that thread going, and I am sure the answer will surprise most people.

8 ) Radiation decontamination

With a reference written for the everyday person below. From that article:
(The original post is on page 5 of the first thread.)

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/03 ... -may-think" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"Decontamination is very simple," says Dr. Eric Toner of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Biosecurity, who has studied what might happen in the wake of a terrorist's "dirty bomb" attack.

"As a rule of thumb, 80 percent of decontamination is removing your clothes," says Toner, an emergency physician. "And 95 percent is removing your clothes and taking a shower — if possible, shampooing your hair. That's all that's involved. No fancy chemicals."

That's because radiation is carried on dust particles. "The air isn't radioactive, but small dust particles are," Toner explains. "You're essentially washing off the dust."
All right then, I have been saying how you would need outside clothes (trench coat type, and a wide brimmed hat), maybe an outside shower, and to protect yourself from dust. While I am not Dr. Eric Toner and I have no idea who he is, I agree with what he is saying, what follows is a more detailed version of the reasons why. The how and what I would use to decontaminate people and objects.
1) 80% is removing your clothes: Most of us wear clothes that cover most of our bodies every day. Simply removing these clothes removes the dust (radioactive fallout) from being next to you. The problem is that most of us do not have 8 coats and 8 hats. So when you take your coat off, protect the inside from more dust, and leave it outside. Same with the hat. Same with your shoes. Go ahead and wear them again the next day. Not ideal, but it will help. This is where those tyvek suits are awesome. Notice what the guy on the left in the photo in the article is wearing? That is also what a "radiation suit" protects you from. Not the radiation, but the radioactive dust. Remove the suit, and you have removed the contamination.

2) 15% is showering: Remember when we talked about the outside shower? This idea is great. No outside shower? Don't worry about it that much. If you want to worry that much, use the hose outside. Also, notice how he specifically mentions shampoo? Why would he do that? There are two reasons, the first is EDTA. This is a chelating agent, which means EDTA will wrap itself around the metal ions and sequester the ions, which increases the solubility of the metal ions. Calcium and magnesium are the principle ions in hard water, and everyone with very hard water knows soap does not suds well, and leaves a ring around the tub. Shampoo makers know this, so they put in a lot of EDTA to allow their shampoo to suds well even in hard water. Well, Cs-137 is basically a metal ion, and the EDTA will bind itself to the Cs-137, increasing the solubility of the complex, and washing this off of you. The second reason is that if you are able to use shampoo, you are able to have enough water to use shampoo. Which means you have more of the contamination washing off of you. My personal experience with decontaminating myself and others will follow.

Edit: And a great point brought up by Phoenix David for personal decontamination that should be included.
Phoenix David wrote:a couple of things when using water for decon, have the water lukewarm so that the body doesn't try to close the pores and avoid using a water fixture that turns the water into fine droplets creating a mist. Also wash from top to bottom.
3) Dust: Seriously folks, this is the central theme of my posts in this thread. If you have a respirator, you are not going to breathe dust particles in, protecting you so much more than KI ever could. HEPA filters, vacuums with HEPA filters, swifter cloths, stuff like this is great for this purpose.

So that is it, right? Well, I can add some background on what soaps and chemicals, but like the article says, "No fancy chemicals", but I do have very, very specific recommendations.
Iodowash. (Iodowash.com)
Iodowash decontaminates by chemically binding the radioactive halogen to a small sphere (0.6 to 1.2 mm) which can easily be wiped up. Typically, a single use will remove up to 100% of the contamination.
This is a fancy chemical. Even though the company makes this claim, you do not need this. Also, it does not work as well as they claim, http://jnumedmtg.snmjournals.org/cgi/co ... racts/2103" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;. So Iodowash claims 100%, however in a published journal article, 36.6% percent decontamination was actually achieved. Notice what does work well though, the brillo pad. Remember, all you are doing is removing the contamination, which is still radioactive, it is just not on you.

So what do I recommend? Some shampoo that makes a lot of suds well in your area, Softsoap (I don't care what scent), Ammonia FREE Windex Seriously, Ammonia Free, that is Very Important, also dish soap that suds well in your area, and those green 3M scratch pads. I did mention the Windex needed to be ammonia free, right? More on that later, but ammonia free.

The shampoo is already covered; the same reasons apply to Softsoap. Might other soaps work well? Sure, but I have seen that Softsoap works a little better than other soaps, and I don't know why. I am guessing that there is more EDTA in it, but in reality, I don't know. I do know it works better though. Maybe 5 to 10% better, but better is better. Also, you need to wash your contaminated parts/hands/face until right before your fingers start to 'prune up'. More than that is not better, and may be worse (increased skin permeability and such). This will not remove 100% of the contamination, but it is as good as it gets.

Dish soap that suds well in your area. Not for you, but for your things. Allow the objects to soak for about 15 minutes, then get to work with the green 3M scratch pads. The reason the brillo pads worked well in that article is because the pad removed some of the linoleum. This is because you remove the radioactive particles with elbow grease. This is about all there is to it. The basic idea is that if the calcium and magnesium deposits from your hard water were radioactive, this is what you are trying to remove.

Windex has a lot of EDTA in it, but you need the ammonia free Windex. One of the reasons Windex works as well as it does is that the Windex will chelate the metallic cations (calcium and magnesium) and leave you with a 'streak free shine'. It works very well for cation removal, radioactive or not.

All right now, everything I just wrote above applies mainly to Cs-137. I-131 is a different animal. (Cs-137 and I-131 are the primary contaminates of fallout weapons or meltdown.) I-131 is not a metallic cation like calcium or magnesium. You wont get any chelation of the I-131 from the EDTA, but you will get the removal of dust and other debris. Ammonia free reason next.

I-131 is volatile, and goes in the air. You can breathe in the I-131 very easily. We want to avoid this. So anything that enhances the volatilization of I-131 would be bad. The pH of the solution the I-131 is in enhances or inhibits this volatilization reference, reference, reference, reference. (See the original thread for those references to work.) The last reference works and may be the best one because it is a "safety sheet" from the Health Physics Society where they say on page one,
Avoid making low pH [acidic] solutions containing 131-I to avoid volatilization
Hey, guess what? Ammonia is acidic. Soaps are basic. Whatever you use to clean/decontaminate fallout with, it needs to be a product with a basic pH (basic is greater than 7). Acid is bad, Base is good. If you look back at the stuff I recommended, it is all basic, or slightly basic. Ammonia free Windex has a pH of 10.5 to 11.5 [url=hhttp://www.onboces.org/safety/msds/S/SC%20John ... 20Rain.pdf]reference[/url].

Remember the "fancy chemicals" from the beginning? Radiacwash!! It is clearly for decontaminating radiation right? It has a pH of 5.5 reference, which means it is not for I-131 contamination. This product helps spread I-131 contamination by facilitating volatilization, which is a horrible idea. Seriously, everything I wrote about is what you need. No fancy chemicals.

And a note about I-131 and hair. I-131 sticks to hair. I have no idea why, I just know it does. I contaminated my beard once with I-131. It would not wash off. I had to shave. I was pissed. Remember that hat I recommend? Keeps the dust (and I-131) off of your hair. Here is something interesting though, I could not wash the I-131 off of my beard, which also means I could not breathe it. So ingestion risk was low, exposure to gamma rays were high. Do not go crazy and shave your head, but keep all of your hair covered and shave your face if you are going to use a respirator.

I did mention that the Windex should be ammonia free, right?

9) Types of radiation

There are lists that are very comprehensive about how many different radioactive particles and rays there are. Very, very basically, there are 4 types. Alpha particles, Beta particles, Gamma rays, and x-rays.

For the most part, you should search for these on the internet. Remember particles are dust particles also. Don’t breathe dust.

Past that, I really have a hard time thinking that more on this aspect needs to be discussed here. This information just isn't that helpful dealing with the aftermath of weapons fallout, reactor meltdown, or a dirty bomb. A good analogy would be worrying about your factory loaded ammo and if the gun powder is ball, flake, or extruded. It doesn't matter. It is factory ammo, whatever they used if fine, they have QC procedures in place. These recommendations work regardless. I remind you of Option C again (GTFO). Distance=good.

10) Radiobiology

This subject is very complicated, and not all that important compared to the introduction to this thread. Rules of thumb for the lay person are all we are going to cover here.

a) The older the cell is, the less sensitive the cell is to radiation.
b) The less often a cell divides the less sensitive it is to radiation.
c) The same dose spread out over time causes less damage to the cell.
d) The worst type of radioactivity on the inside of your body is an Alpha particle.
e) The worst type of radiation on the outside of your body is a gamma ray.

f) The older a person is, the less sensitive to radiation that person is. The younger a person is, the more sensitive that person is to radiation.

-Do everything you can to minimize the exposure to the children, and let the older people get a bigger dose. BTW, I am old and I am going to do everything I can to help as many other people minimize their dose. I would absolutely take a huge dose of radiation so someone younger didn't have to. Especially if that younger person was family.

The key here is again; keep the dust off of you and out of you. Worry about breathing the dust.

Let’s say that you wanted a brief overview of this subject.
http://www-naweb.iaea.org/nahu/dmrp/pdf ... pter14.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
That’s a good start.


11) Time distance shielding

http://www.orcbs.msu.edu/radiation/prog ... m_time.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The following is shamelessly cut and pasted from the above link. It has wording that is for radiation workers such as, conducting “dry runs”. The concepts are the same no matter what though.
Time, Distance and Shielding
Three primary means of eliminating or reducing radiation exposures exist. They are:
Time:
Minimize the time that radioactive materials are handled. Since the amount of exposure occurs as a function of duration of exposure, less time means less exposure. This may be achieved by conducting "dry runs" (practicing the procedures to be performed, with all of the steps and manipulations performed without the hazardous materials). Conduct the work quickly and efficiently, but do not rush.
Distance:
Maximize the distance from the radioactive materials. Dose is inversely proportional to distance, therefore, greater distance means less dose. Do not increase the distance to the point wherein dexterity or control of the materials is jeopardized.
Shielding:
Use shielding wherever it is necessary to reduce or eliminate exposure. By placing an appropriate shield between the radioactive source and the worker, radiation is attenuated and exposure may be completely eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level. The type and amount of shielding needed to achieve a safe working level varies with the type and quantity of radioactive material used. The HVL (half-value layer) may be used as a guide to the thickness of the shielding necessary to block the radiation. The HVL is the thickness of the shielding necessary to reduce the radiation dose rate to half of the original or unshielded dose rate. Refer to the HVL information in the appendices on specific nuclides.
Take away points: Less time is good, more distance is good, and more shielding is good. More distance sounds a lot like Option C and point (2).

12) Shielding and shelter design

http://www.ndt-ed.org/EducationResource ... eLayer.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Pay attention to the graph which shows that it takes 7 HVLs to reduce the exposure to less than 1%. All too often we see recommendations about 3 feet of earth or concrete for shelter design, well, the HVL of Cs-137 is 1.9 inches of concrete. Seven HVLs is 13.3 inches of concrete, so why do on-line references say 3 feet?

Most of the references people use is for a nuclear weapon type of event. The thing about nuclear weapons vs reactor meltdowns is there is an explosion. For that explosion, would you rather be behind 1 foot of reinforced concrete or 3 feet of reinforced concrete? My answer personally is about 30 feet for the explosion, and for the fallout, 1 foot may be fine.

Most of us are not going to be building underground shelters; and I certainly am not going to build one. Remember the plastic sheeting and duct tape the Gov wanted us to have? The reason is to seal your windows. For bug in fallout protection, stay as close to the center of your house and protect yourself from dust. Tape up your windows and air vents, don’t die from CO2 poisoning, and have a way to remove the dust from yourself prior to entering your shelter. Also have a way to remove dust from inside of your shelter without kicking the dust up in the air, again, I like swifter cloths.

If you are actually going to build a shelter, decide what the shelter is for, blast vs. fallout. Try to make it as multiuse as you can. PM me if you want me to look at the design. But don’t start an argument about something you are not actually going to do in real life. And if you are going to do this in real life, please start a new thread to argue about shelter design or length of stay.

13) Radiation detection

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/06/world ... ss&emc=rss" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I do not recommend that the average lay person bothers with this subject. Why? This quote from the above link:
“Someone who knows what they are doing could be off by 5 or 15 percent, and someone who doesn’t know what they are doing can be off by orders of magnitude,” said Sheldon Landsberger, a professor of nuclear radiation engineering at the University of Texas and co-author of the book “Measurement and Detection of Radiation.”
I work in this industry, and I absolutely agree with this statement. I have worked with people who have seriously misread critical values. I have seriously misread values. Further the problem is how you measure, as in two highly trained and competent people can get two dramatically different values. This is not the most straight forward thing to do.

Yet, in NWSS the guy shows people how to build an uncalibrated meter and leads people to think that their reading somehow relates to reality in some way, shape, or form. If you want to do that, please go ahead. Don’t let a professor of nuclear radiation engineering and the author of a book entitled, “Measurement and Detection of Radiation” slow you down by saying you can be off by orders of magnitude with calibrated equipment that was manufactured and passed QC.

So how do I recommend that people detect the radiation? Listen to the radio or watch the news. And follow option C in Bunsen’s advice, “For most radiological disasters, that's not the case -- the order of response is usually (A) protect from inhaled particles, (B) protect from dust on skin, (C) GTFO (though doing C first is a good option too).”

If you really want to learn how to measure radiation, my best advise is to pay for hands on training. Or if you are in the Seattle area, I'll teach you for free. The issue is that there are too many apparently little things that dramatically matter. It isn't really possible to figure this out on your own without radioactive material and experience.

14) Summation
The worst of the danger comes from the risk of ingesting or inhaling alpha-emitting isotopes. While your skin stops alpha particles just fine, they tear the shit out of your cells and DNA if they're emitted within the body. Second-worst is having beta emitters (don't worry about the +/-, it doesn't affect this scale of things much) on or near your skin (or ingested). A mask keeps radioactive dust out of your lungs, and a dust-proof suit lets you get it away from your skin soon after exposure (keeping the beta emitters outside your clothing offers some direct protection as well).

Gamma emitters are only a concern once you've got the protection from alpha and beta emitters taken care of. When you read about needing so many inches or feet of dirt to protect from radiation, that's assuming you've already eliminated direct exposure to the dust and/or gas and are only worried about gamma radiation. For most radiological disasters, that's not the case -- the order of response is usually (A) protect from inhaled particles, (B) protect from dust on skin, (C) GTFO (though doing C first is a good option too). The emphasis on hiding in buried fallout shelters comes from planning for nuclear war, where there would be nowhere to GTFO to.
My stupid commentary on the two best paragraphs in this thread: Pay attention to (A), (B), and (C). This topic really is that simple. Even more concise: (1) dust=bad, (2) distance=good. It does not matter the type of radiation event. Everything else from here on out is just foot notes.



This summation might look a whole lot like point #2, because it is. If all you remember from this whole thread is: (A) protect from inhaled particles, (B) protect from dust on skin, (C) GTFO (though doing C first is a good option too), and (1) dust=bad, (2) distance=good, then you are so much better off than you were before you started reading this thread.

Thanks for your time.
Last edited by Liff on Thu Oct 24, 2013 1:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Preparing for Radiation Events

Post by raptor » Sun Jul 10, 2011 2:58 pm

Great post with good information! Thanks for sharing it.

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Re: Preparing for Radiation Events

Post by Rob Van » Sun Jul 10, 2011 10:25 pm

Wow Liff,
Thanks for all the great information and for putting it in a form even the rest of us can understand!
Can I be like you when I grow up? :lol:
Cheers,
Rob.

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Re: Preparing for Radiation Events

Post by connecticut_yankee » Sun Jul 10, 2011 10:36 pm

This is toilet reading if I ever saw it. I mean that in the kindest possible way.

Great information in a more or less concise format :)

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Re: Preparing for Radiation Events

Post by ODA 226 » Sun Jul 10, 2011 11:07 pm

Great post!
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Re: Preparing for Radiation Events

Post by Liff » Mon Jul 11, 2011 6:51 am

Took me a moment to get the toilet reference. As in when you are on the toilet, this may be a good read. Got it.
Rob Van wrote:Can I be like you when I grow up? :lol:
No.

(Rob Van and I have been friends for more than 20 years, he is just teasing me here.)

Thanks for the praise also.

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Re: Preparing for Radiation Events

Post by Maast » Mon Jul 11, 2011 1:47 pm

Stunningly good post, I commend you sir!
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Re: Preparing for Radiation Events

Post by CipherNameRaVeN » Fri Oct 21, 2011 10:32 am

Definatelly a good read! Thank you!
I think I may want to invest in some basic supplies.
Couple of years ago I replaced all windows and doors in my house, but I still buy Frost King Window Insulation kit for my kids' rooms. This year I may invest in some more of that stuff and put it away.
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Definitely, need some more duct tape. I may buy a bulk pack of 3M or Gorilla.
Several Painters Suits for the family. They can't be that expensive.
Rubber rain boots. I can use them anyway during rainy or snow weather.

I already have a good supply of KI pills... mostly for the kids.
Water and food is part of my preps anyway, and always growing.

Respirators will probably be my main expense in this type of prep.
Any recommendation for the type and place to buy? I know Google is king, but I may as well ask the professional.
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Re: Preparing for Radiation Events

Post by Liff » Fri Dec 16, 2011 4:54 pm

I am very sorry for the late response....
CipherNameRaVeN wrote:Respirators will probably be my main expense in this type of prep.
Any recommendation for the type and place to buy? I know Google is king, but I may as well ask the professional.
Funny story about me, I do not wear a respirator. I have no real idea as to the specifics of respirators. Knowing what I know, I know I would have carbon in the filter of whatever mask/respirator I would buy. The filter/purifier would have a rating for "radiation". The device would also cover my eyes and seal with a rubber type gasket around my face.

But I don't think it gets any better than this: http://www.grainger.com/Grainger/NORTH- ... Pid=search" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ...and the companies website has a distributor finder on it to help you find one local to you.

Great write up: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2003-144/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The worst thing about respirators is that you need to shave to get a positive seal around your face. I have not shaved but once or twice since '98 when I got out, and I am not going to start any time soon either. So, no respirator for me.

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Re: Preparing for Radiation Events

Post by Arkane » Sat Dec 17, 2011 12:47 pm

Any full face respirator capable of using at least a standard HEPA filter is going to be OK. The goal is to keep the radioactive nucleotides carried in dust and atmospheric particles out of your body. Wanna go cheap? The el cheapo Izzy will work fine for that purpose, even with an expired filter. The key thing is making sure your inlet/outlet valves are serviceable. There are also some good Scott respirators around now that run under $150 that spare parts and accesories (like optical inserts) are readily available for. Stay away from the M17/OM10s. They suck in every way , shape, and form.

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Re: Preparing for Radiation Events

Post by Liff » Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:06 am

Thanks for the experience with the respirators/gas masks Arcane. I would say that you are 98% correct with this statement,
Arkane wrote:Any full face respirator capable of using at least a standard HEPA filter is going to be OK.
The 2% issue here is the Iodine-131. This radioactive atom will go through a HEPA filter.

The most easy way to think of this atom is to think of chlorine. Florine, Chlorine, Bromine, Iodine, etc are all halogens and behave in a similar manner chemically speaking. No one should wear a HEPA filter into a chlorine gas cloud because the HEPA filter will not remove halogens.

I work with curies of I-131 and smaller amounts of I-123 in my lab (0.1 curies of I-131 will cause thyroid ablation, 0.03 curies of I-131 will cause a permanent reduction in thyroid function), the system used to scrub the radioactive iodines out of the air in my lab has absolutely no particulate filtration. It is all activated carbon based adsorption sequestering of the I-131.

In a radiation event, if I could have only HEPA or only carbon based filtration, I would choose the HEPA. The stuff that the HEPA would filter out are much more dangerous to a person. If I had my choice, I would choose both. Based on my almost total lack of experience with respirators/gas masks (USMC gas chamber 5 times is all), I only linked to a filter setup that has the properties that I would like to see and not to a specific system.

Thanks again for chiming in with good mask recommendations that is simply beyond my direct experience level.

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Re: Preparing for Radiation Events

Post by Arkane » Sun Dec 18, 2011 11:56 am

Another possible solution could be by using what the Russians call a "baby sock" (don't know the name in Russian name) over their filters. During and after the Chernobyl incident the Russian military issued close knit cloth covers to the soldiers working the area to place over their normal filter inlets as sort of a pre-filter. That would help in controlling the entry of dust into the respirator while at the same time preserving the carbon filtering properties of the normal C/B filters.
Last edited by Arkane on Mon Dec 19, 2011 7:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Preparing for Radiation Events

Post by Shroud » Mon Dec 19, 2011 7:01 pm

I know this was posted awhile ago, but thanks for the thread. Good info. I'm bookmarking this for later reference.

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Re: Preparing for Radiation Events

Post by raptor » Mon Dec 19, 2011 7:03 pm

I agree Thank you!

That said this thread is stickied at the top of this forum.

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Re: Preparing for Radiation Events

Post by Shroud » Mon Dec 19, 2011 7:23 pm

raptor wrote:I agree Thank you!

That said this thread is stickied at the top of this forum.
Gotcha. I knew that at one point but forgot. :gonk:

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Re: Preparing for Radiation Events

Post by Olyebr » Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:13 pm

This was a great read. Best I have read in a long time. Thank you for taking the time to compile this information.
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Re: Preparing for Radiation Events

Post by .milFox » Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:39 pm

Couple things -

Bugging out vs bugging in. You'll want to look at the type of event that caused the radiological hazard in the first place. A radiological dispersal device has similar but substantially different characteristics than a power plant disaster or a nuclear weapon blast.

If there's a general rule of thumb, IMO, shelter in place works for stuff that washes away and doesn't affect you before it washes away. ie RDDs for which you have little warning, etc. Secure ventilation as best as possible, minimize airflow into the contamination, wait for the half lives to go away or your supplies (including non-contaminated air) to run out. OR, it's one of those TEOTWAWKI situations where you'll be worse off in a bugout location.

Otherwise, bug out. If the contamination will be around for a long time, (say, Fukashima type scenario) it's time to leave in an orderly fashion. Of course, take what the experts recommend into consideration.

...

Types of radiation - Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Neutron.

You've covered alpha/beta/gamma. Neutron sources make other things radioactive, and are evidence of a fissile material.

X-rays are just a lower frequency EM radiation than Gamma.

...

If you do plan on staying in a contaminated area and are wearing tyvek and respirators outside, I'd suggest looking into decontamination requirements. See the appropriate Army FMs (say, http://www.gordon.army.mil/SAMC/Downloa ... nFM3-5.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ) and adopt to your situation.

...

Completely disagree with detection. Radiation is one of the easiest hazards out there to detect, in the gamma and neutron modes. Lots of cheap available gear out there. Alpha and Beta is hard, but if you're living in an environment where particulate contamination is something you're worried about, GTFO. Or you're living in a Wasteland/Fallout PAW, where you'll either figure it out or get lots of exposure.

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Re: Preparing for Radiation Events

Post by LowKey » Wed Oct 23, 2013 4:35 am

Liff,
Fantastic breakdown of this for us laypersons.

There are two things I'd like to bring up, and you should be more than qualified to correct me if I've been misunderstanding any of this for years.

1-Radiation energy (waves, not dust particles) travel in straight lines. This is why old shelter designs have the entry with a 90deg bend in it in order to prevent radiation (waves) from entering each time the shelter door is opened.

2-You mentioned this, " All too often we see recommendations about 3 feet of earth or concrete for shelter design, well, the HVL of Cs-137 is 1.9 inches of concrete. Seven HVLs is 13.3 inches of concrete, so why do on-line references say 3 feet?"
IIRC, it's not 3 feet of earth or concrete that is recommended. It's 3 feet of earth, with a different thickness listed for concrete . Off the top of my head I believe it's just a bit under 1 1/2 ft of concrete (about 16 inches). I don't know which source you were using to get those figures, but I suspect either a typo or your eyes played a trick on you while reading.
A few years back while looking at those tables (material thickness for shielding) I did some rough calculations. If my math was correct, adequate shielding requires about 150lbs per square foot of surface area you want to shield. Doesn't matter what material you use, you could use lead or you could use feathers, but the lead shielding's thickness would be measured in inches and the feathers used for shielding would be measured in yards (about 600 yards :awesome: ). Obviously a few inches of lead are preferable to having to use 1800 ft thick layers of feathers.... :rofl:
However lead is more expensive than either concrete or earth, and both these materials are much more readily available in the quantities needed to shield a structure.
My understanding of how the shielding works:
Very simply, solid matter isn't as "solid" as we think it is.
There is lots of space between atoms.
Radiation travels in a straight line until it hits something (an atom) which absorbs it (?).
The less dense a material, the more clear straight line paths through those empty spaces between atoms.
Denser materials have less space between atoms for the radiation to pass through, so you don't need it to be as thick.



Liff, were my rough calculations on the mass required to provide shielding (150 lbs per sq ft) in the ballpark range or did I strike out? And am I completey off base on how shielding works?
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Re: Preparing for Radiation Events

Post by Liff » Wed Oct 23, 2013 11:02 pm

So I haven’t posted in a while. Mostly because I was getting into arguments in almost every thread, so sorry about that. Then I get this email that a reply was posted in this thread….

Trying to be as non-confrontational as possible, .milFox, I can’t find references to support almost all of what you posted about. You said that I covered the types of radiation, but I did not. Specifically because so many people get them wrong that it just leads to distractions about types of radiation instead of how to prepare and act if this situation ever arises. Neutron sources do not always make other things radioactive, they are not always evidence of fissile material, and X-rays and Gamma rays are not differentiated by their frequency. And most importantly, none of that matters one bit in an actual event. If you would like to go to PMs I would appreciate that much more than in this thread. Moving on….

LowKey: I am inclined to agree that I read that reference wrong. So I am wrong there. Maybe the reference did say 3 feet of earth or 1 foot of concrete. Either way, I insist that I was wrong.

You asked two questions, my two answers follow. You are completely off base on how radiation shielding works, and I like the 150 pounds per square foot rule of thumb.

When talking about shielding radiation, what makes it easier is to think about sealed sources of radiation and then think about unsealed sources of radiation.

With sealed sources, the first thing to consider is the Inverse Square Law. Basically, when you double the distance, the dose rate is quartered. So if the source of sealed radiation is emitting gamma radiation at strength or intensity of 100 mR/hr at 1 foot, then at 2 feet the strength is 25 mR/hr. At 4 feet (double the 2 foot distance) the strength is 6.25 mR/hr, at 8 feet the strength is 1.56 mR/hr, and at 16 feet the strength would be 0.39 mR/hr. These 16 feet of air are “shielding” the sealed source at an efficiency of 99.61%. That is some damned fine shielding. Remember dust is bad and distance is good.

I know the above numbers might be hard to digest, but they are true. The Inverse Square Law works for gravity, sound, light, gamma rays, x-rays, radio waves, all sorts of things. Search for that law and read up a bit if you want to. Further, there is a value called the maximum range of an alpha or beta particle in air. Those are charged particles and interact with the air, so again, air is a great radiation shield. So I would much, much rather be behind 1,800 feet of feathers than a measly few inches of lead for a sealed source of radiation.

Now for an unsealed source of radiation, air is a craptastic shield because the air doesn’t prevent the radioactive dust from getting closer to you. (Dust is bad, distance is good.) A glass house could be an excellent radiation shield if it kept the dust 16 feet away from you because the Inverse Square Law demonstrates that there will be a reduction of the radiation intensity or strength by 99.61%. Until someone throws a rock at you.

Lead is about 11.3 g/cc and at only 2.4 g/cc, concrete is not very dense. For gamma radiation, concrete isn’t that much better than air. For Cs-137, 10 cm of air is equivalent to about 6.5 cm of concrete or about 1 cm of lead. The next sentence answers the basic idea of how radiation shields work. To shield the radiation, the shield can interact with the radiation and/or physically keep you away from the radiation. Concrete is a wonderful neutron shield and a near perfect alpha or beta particle shield. If it wasn’t for the physical separation between you and the gamma rays or x-rays, concrete would be a horrible radiation shield for gamma and x-rays.

What concrete does really well is to keep you from getting closer to the radiation, keep the radiation from getting closer to you, a great building material, relatively cheap, good for a blast shelter, and impervious to most rocks. Glass and feathers are not nearly as good. Concrete also weighs about 150 pounds per cubic foot.

So as a rule of thumb, which is a rule that works most of the time but not always, I like the 150 pounds per square foot idea. If it is built of sturdy material, it should provide some fairly good shielding. Mackerel, Styrofoam, orangutans, crayons, whatever: 150 pounds per sq ft sounds pretty good to me.

And the other obvious thing is that sometimes 99.61% is not nearly enough shielding. I would not stand 16 feet away from a reactor even though the intensity or strength would be reduced by 99.61% (if all of the emissions were coming from a singular point source, which they don’t). So sometimes, 16 feet away is a few miles short of the goal. Sometimes it is about 15 feet too conservative.

And that is the problem. What is the starting intensity of the radiation you are trying to shield against? How do you know what type of isotopes are going to be or not be there? Why build a super-efficient fallout shelter when you could just drive away? Drive away from Fukushima, drive away from Chernobyl. Remember that the United States has detonated over 1,000 nuclear bombs on ourselves. The Russians, French, and Brits have detonated more than we have and we don’t live in a radioactive waste land. If a reactor melts down, well, there is a wasteland, but not the bombs.

A few links to where I have learned a bit about the theory of shielding follow. The practice of shielding is an experience thing, so no links for that, although if anyone wants to play with some radioactive material in a very controlled setting, just let me know. I am in the DFW area now also.
https://law.resource.org/pub/us/cfr/ibr ... 3.1968.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
https://ia601202.us.archive.org/27/item ... 9.1976.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/Publicatio ... 71_web.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Also, radiation sorta travels in a straight line. Think about a flashlight instead. Those photons of visible light also travel in straight lines, but there is also increased light on the other side of a 90 degree wall also right? Gamma and x-ray photons also –kind of- do the same thing. So mazes are built into entrances. Worry more about the dust that you would bring into the shelter more though.
Dust is bad, distance is good, and I am all about option C.

Liff

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Re: Preparing for Radiation Events

Post by Phoenix David » Wed Oct 23, 2013 11:32 pm

a couple of things when using water for decon, have the water lukewarm so that the body doesn't try to close the pores and avoid using a water fixture that turns the water into fine droplets creating a mist. Also wash from top to bottom.
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Re: Preparing for Radiation Events

Post by Liff » Thu Oct 24, 2013 1:05 am

Phoenix David, great post. That is something that is so "common sense" to me that I didn't even think to include it. Editing original post now.

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Re: Preparing for Radiation Events

Post by buck85 » Thu Oct 24, 2013 6:48 am

think about it all the time guess think about is some more.
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Re: Preparing for Radiation Events

Post by Mikeyboy » Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:12 am

The other thing about shielding is while you mentioned that you have no intentions of building a bomb shelter in your home now, you can build one with household materials when the SHTF. If a nuke goes off near your home and fallout is coming like mentioned in some links in previous threads not only should you seal off doors and windows I would create the final shelter area in the basement, or if you don't have a basement, in a room in the center of your house. You basically need to move shielding material around the shelter area. That means heavy boxes, furniture, etc. even taking advantage metal appliances like a washer and dryer. Anything additional barrier that you can put between yourself and the radioactive fallout would help. While having a dug in basement is the best protection, you also need to remember that radioactive fallout can collect on your roof, so you need to shield the floor above you as well. I have selected an area in my basement just above my kitchen to be my fallout shelter. I figure if it ever happens all I need to do is slide some heavy furniture and stuff to cover the tile floor, and pretty much that, the cabinet filled with pots and pans, the metal appliances, pipes, and granite countertops would make a great shielding barrier above my head.

Also if you are sheltered in your home, I would not risk drawing in air directly from the outside unless it Absolutely necessary. Even in a tightly sealed, energy efficient home, people sleeping in their bedroom with the doors and windows closed do not die from CO2 poisoning. Your house will let in some oxygen even with the doors and window sealed. Your shelter room the air will get stuffy but if you create baffled shelter walls you can let air from other parts of the house circulate in, and perhaps use a battery operated or hand powered fan to move the air. What you don't want to do is use a heating device that will give off smoke or gasses inside the shelter. This killed a family in Israel who sheltered in their home during Saddam scud attacks during the Persian Gulf war. The seal a room in the house in fear a gas attack and ran a portable gas heater to keep warm. The other thing is you don't want to try to use a vacuum or air filter to try to draw in air from the outside if there is fallout. Doing that you are basically drawing in radioactive particles into your home, and hoping that the filter will catch and hold all of it. To make matters worse, even if you have a top of the line Dyson or Hepa air filter, you are basically drawing in radioactive dust that was shielded on the other side of brick or concrete walls, pulling it into your shelter and trapping the radioactive dust in the vacuum or air filter that is basically a box with a thin plastic shell. Understand that in true "Bomb Shelters" those hand crank and powered air filters are either filtering the fallout in the intake pipe, or the setup is make of heavy gauge metal.

http://www.ki4u.com/guide.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Preparing for Radiation Events

Post by .milFox » Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:23 pm

You said that I covered the types of radiation, but I did not.
From the your OP
9) Types of radiation

There are lists that are very comprehensive about how many different radioactive particles and rays there are. Very, very basically, there are 4 types. Alpha particles, Beta particles, Gamma rays, and x-rays.
That reads like 'covering the types of radiation' to me.

I said:
Types of radiation - Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Neutron.
http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/radiation/ ... asics.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

States:
Ionizing Radiation
Alpha Particles
Beta Particles
Gamma Rays and X-Rays
Neutrons
Clearly lumping Xrays in with Gamma, because, well ...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_spectrum" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
After hard X-rays come gamma rays, which were discovered by Paul Villard in 1900. These are the most energetic photons, having no defined lower limit to their wavelength.
Also,
Neutron sources do not always make other things radioactive, they are not always evidence of fissile material,
and from the NRC..
Neutrons are high-speed nuclear particles that have an exceptional ability to penetrate other materials. Of the five types of ionizing radiation discussed here, neutrons are the only one that can make objects radioactive. This process, called neutron activation, produces many of the radioactive sources that are used in medical, academic, and industrial applications (including oil exploration).
Unless you don't the Nuclear Regulatory Commission knows what they're putting on their webpages...
...
And most importantly, none of that matters one bit in an actual event.
Now, I don't know about you, but knowing about types of radiation matters a LOT in an 'event', as that determines how you respond to an event. In a RDD (short term) or fallout (long term) scenario, you worry about alpha/beta sources and really don't care about gamma or neutron unless you're out gathering materials which emit those things. Additionally, knowing about such things helps in getting the appropriate meters to read such things.

Now I'm not in total disagreement. Dust IS bad in RDD/Fallout type events. If your shelter is in a high gamma area, IMO you have other concerns and are much better bugging out than worrying about sheltering in place for an extended period. Time, distance, shielding, right? Reduce time. It depends on the type of event. If it's a 60's vintage nuclear war, well ... that's a whole 'nother dogma from the 2013 commercial accident / RDD type of event.

Now, IF you're going for the classic 'bomb shelter', why are you bothering with shielding materials? Examine your terrain, look at likely targets where a high energy gamma/neutron source would be placed, and use earth by means of placing appropriate hills or tunneling, between you and the source. Wait for rad levels from fallout to fade. Then bug the heck out.

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