Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Radioactive ceramic tile and kitty litter?

There are report in the news about how all the millions that the Federal Government spent on screening equipment for airports and other sensitive areas after 9/11 have to be replaced because they're inadequate or just plain don't work. One of the comments made was that radiation-detecting equipment "cannot differentiate between radiation from a nuclear bomb and naturally occurring radiation from everyday material like cat litter or ceramic tile." My father's in the middle of redoing his bathroom, so this naturally raised some alarms.

I Googled "radiation 'ceramic tile' " and found this link from the Health Physics Society. I can't say that it really did that much to set my mind at ease, because it doesn't say if there are some kinds of tile that are more radioactive than others, or if there are actually types that could be dangerous.

Googling "radiation 'cat litter' " came up with some interesting stuff, including a link from in which the source of radioactivity was, to paraphrase the article, 'the cat's leavings, not what the kitty left them in.'

But contradicting Snopes is this link on cat litter from the Oak Ridge Associated Universities (the link's from ORAU, not the litter). It says that some cat litter has been known to trip radiation sensors.

I used to think it was just the smell that was radioactive...

Reposted comments from the old BraveJournal:

Posted by Cor:
"Uranium hunter follows trail of tiles"

(Despite the evil-monopolist influence [of the MSN link], there could accidentially be some accurate information there)
(There was a longer article a few years back, probably profiling the same guy, more skeptical, in an alt-press weekly... can't find it now... apparently it wasn't in SF Weekly, LA Weekly (now owned by Village Voice)... ) Worrisome quote from the end of the article: "Everything is measurably radioactive." Swell.
Wednesday, May 11th 2005 @ 11:25 AM

Posted by Bryan Doe:
Apparently it's radioactivity that maintains life. Everything organic (or of organic origin) has some radioactivity in it.

Ceramics and cat litter are both made from clay -- for some reason I had always thought cat litter was made from tree bark.
Wednesday, May 11th 2005 @ 12:20 PM

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