Up to now, I have indicated that I have found no contamination in my rainwater, from a couple of previous tests. This changed, however, on May 10th when we received an unseasonable 1/4" rainfall here in Prescott, Arizona. The family car had been outdoors in the rain, so I wiped an otherwise clean, but wet window with a paper towel, brought that inside, and laid it on a paper plate, which itself was sitting on a wooden table. First, I attempted a momentary scan with my Digilert 100, a "standard" tubed Geiger counter, aiming its thin mica end window directly at the wet towel, slowly surveying the surface area. But the momentary scan did not indicate any perceptible radioactivity.
So in the interest of thoroughness, I resorted to a 20 minute count, using the Total/Timer mode of the Digilert, fixing the position of the instrument, with the end window oriented directly at the water-soaked towel just 1/4" away. At the end of the test, the instrument had accumulated 514 radiation counts, or about 26 CPM (Counts per Minute). Then I created a scientific control, conducting a similar 20 minute count on an identical paper towel moistened with tap water this time, sitting on an identical paper plate, and in the same position on the same wooden table. The accumulated count was 407, or about 20 CPM.
If that comparison wasn't enough to indicate slight radioactivity from the rainwater, I looked at my logged average of indoor "environmental" radiation for the previous 20 minutes before disconnecting my Digilert from the computer to scan the water, and wouldn't you know it, but that was also 20 CPM. So short of an even longer timed count, this analysis almost certainly revealed that the captured rainwater was emitting 6 CPM of radiation. What are the lessons here?
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