Radioactivity Detection Unit NOW Up and Running in Agana Heights


Guam – A portable radiation detection device is now up and running in Agana Heights.

U.S. EPA Radiological Emergency Response Team Commander Sam Poppell set up the device between the Civil Defense bunker and the Governor’s Mansion in Agana Heights Friday.

Its first readings were taken Saturday and they continue to show, as the Air Force readings at Andersen AFB showed earlier this week, NO harmful levels of radiation have been detected.

Poppell will set up a similar device in Saipan Sunday.

The device is known as a RadNet monitor. It has 3 components that look for evidence of radioactivity.

One component is a Gama Tracer which looks for radioactive gama rays. It sends back 4 readings each hour via satellite to the U.S. EPA’s National Air and Radiation Environmental Laboratory (NAREL) in Montgomery Alabama, where Poppell is based.

Technicians at NAREL analyze the readings and post the results at:

2 other sensors on the RadNet unit take air samples. One is a low volume air sampler, and the other is a high volume air sampler. They are looking for particulate traces of the radioactive Noble gases, radioactive iodine and Alpha and Beta particles. There is no real-time satellite transmission of the samples taken by these two air sampling  units. The air filters must be removed and sent back to Montgomery for analysis, a process that will take a few days.

There is of course natural radioactivity which occurs on Guam and everywhere throughout the world.

Poppell said that the Gama Tracer is reading a level of  8 mR or micro roentgen, which is a normal, safe, reading of  naturally occurring radioactivity. There would have to be a reading many thousands of times higher to pose any health risk.

A roentgen measures the energy produced by gamma radiation in a cubic centimeter of air.   

By comparison, Poppell said the reading in Montgomery is higher, about 10 mR (micro roentgen). And an average person naturally receive about 360 milli (not micro) roentgen each year.






* Roentgen: The roentgen measures the energy produced by gamma radiation in a cubic centimeter of air.