Geiger counter on Mooloolaba Beach

The worst radiation hotspot might be closer than you think


LAST stop, picture perfect Noosa main beach.

And the good news for the hundreds of sun bakers is there concern should be the ultra violet light, not necessarily the radiation.

Peter Daley's Geiger counter and microwave measurer picked up the same level of activity at Noosa as it did at Mooloolaba beach.

"Nothing out of the ordinary here," Mr Daley said.

"What we are picking up is probably from the wireless phone towers.  It makes you wonder if you really need to have wifi on the beach."

En-route to Noosa we drove past the Eumundi tip - again no spike in readings - and past Hastings Street.

The only slight increase in microwave readings was on the Eumundi Noosa road, which once again might have been explained by the towers in the area.

Mr Daley said what the tour showed was that there were generally significant levels of non-iodising radiation or iodising radiation around the Coast.

No level ever recorded higher than the mobile phone on my back pocket when used to dial the office.

Peter Daley takes a reading on Noosa Main Beach.
Peter Daley takes a reading on Noosa Main Beach.


A LITTLE "micro hot spot" was recorded on the roof at the Big Top Shopping Centre, with the signal "about eight times stronger than on Mooloolaba Beach".

However, what really set Mr Daley's monitors off was driving past Maroochydore High School.

"It went up to around 20,000 microwatts per square metre," Mr Daley said.

"This is 20 times what it was on Mooloolaba Beach and is significant.  "I wouldn't want to be in a constant stream of 20 watts."

Good news for sick patients - the Nambour hospital site didn't set off any of the meters.

"Neither the Geiger counter or the microwave counter recorded high levels," Mr Daley said.

Peter Daley checks the levels at Nambour General Hospital.
Peter Daley checks the levels at Nambour General Hospital.


WHICH do you think will give off more radiation - a power substation, a mobile tower or the mobile phone in your back pocket?

Tests with Sunshine Coast Computer Club President Peter Dyson have shown it's the phone on your pocket, when put close to your head to take a call that gives off the most microwave radiation.

The power substation barely caused Peter's meters, a Geiger counter and a microwave radiation measurer, to beep.

He explained power substations didn't give off much ionizing or non-ionizing radiation.

Caloundra mobile phone tower gets measured.
Caloundra mobile phone tower gets measured.

"They are more electro-magnetic field radiation and the meters I have don't measure that.

"The risks of living next to a substation diminish as you move meters away and don't place enormous health risks on people living in the neighbourhood."

However, the mobile tower at a shopping centre gave off strong microwave signals, none of which recorded directly underneath it.

"The signal flows in a cone shape, so as you move away from the tower it increases.  Those living in high rise units would receive the strongest signal."

The mobile phone in my pocket was a different story, giving off 70,000 microwatts per square metre.

The tower gave off around 3,000 microwatts per square metres around 50 metres from it.

"Mobile phones give off enormous amounts of radiation which is why people should really consider texting, speaker phones or ear pieces instead of holding them continuously to their head," Peter said.

"This is particularly important for children as they are much more sensitive to radiation than adults as there cells are dividing more quickly."

Our next stop is Mooloolaba Beach.


PICKING up Peter Daley and his equipment to begin the Sunshine Coast's first tour using a Geiger counter and a microwave field strength meter.

Peter lives about 500 metres from microwave towers and power substation.  He explains we are talking about two sorts of radiation, ionising which is associated with nuclear energy and non-ionising which deals with wifi technology.

"Both have health effects," he said.

"There is radiation all around us, in the concrete, tiles even in the road.

"It's when the dynamic changes we have to be concerned."



WHAT are the Sunshine Coast's hot spots?

We're not talking tourism hot spots, crime hot spots or even weather hot spots, we are talking Geiger hot spots.

Yes, we are going to discover which areas are more radioactive than others.

And to assist us on our fact-finding mission, the Sunshine Coast Computer Club's Peter Daley will be taking us on a tour of the region with his Geiger counter.


Peter Daley and his Geiger counter
Peter Daley and his Geiger counter Brett Wortman

For those who don't know, a Geiger counter is one of the world's best-known radiation detection instruments, used to pick up ionizing radiation.

Ionizing radiation has more energy than non-iodizing radiation and is the type of energy that sparks health concerns.

It the Geiger counter that tipped Mr Daley in 2012 that a major nuclear event was happening.

This event was in Fukushima, Japan, but the surge in radiation levels set off alarms in Caloundra.


Photos from within the exclusion zone at Fukushima.
Photos from within the exclusion zone at Fukushima.

It is also the counter that warned Mr Daley a man dropping off equipment in his office had a high radiation count.

He had just been for a CT scan and it prompted a call from Mr Daley for health professionals to advise clients to stay away from pregnant women and children after undergoing these procedures.

Now Mr Daley will be taking us on a tour of the Sunshine Coast to discover which areas record the highest levels of ionizing radiation.

Will Mooloolaba's beautiful beach front and its coffee rocks set off the monitors?


Beautiful Mooloolaba
Beautiful Mooloolaba Che Chapman

Or can we expect sites around the Nambour tip or even the hospital to raise alarms?


Around the Nambour tip
Around the Nambour tip Jason Dougherty

We will also be talking a "microwave meter" which Mr Daley said was for measuring "microwave field strength in three-dimensions".

"The microwave meter measures non-ionizing radiation which is artificial from mobile towers and wifi hot spots," he said.

"It can show whether you can get a decent wireless connection in an area or show levels which can be hazardous," he said.

While medical opinion appears divided over the hazards of these different types of radiation, Mr Daley said advice was "to take a cautionary approach"

"That is to limit your exposure, particularly for young children," he said.

We will be tweet and Facebooking live updates of our Geiger tour from 9am as well as on the Daily's website.

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