In the media you find numerous reports concerning an imminent danger that terrorists will gather radioactive material and use conventional explosives to spread it over a large area, which then will be uninhabitable for a long time.

Apparently nobody will take the trouble to go into details, except for example to tell:
“They [Isis] are working on a series of attacks with radioactive substance. A ‘radioactive tsunami’ of Europe which would remove millions of people from the earth. The largest religious Holocaust the world has seen. “

Although it has been mentioned many times, it is not possible.

Long time before this hopeful terrorist has collected just one % of the necessary, he will die a horrible, but not that glorious death from acute radiation poisoning.

Still you can find alarming reports that radioactive material has been stolen or “lost”. It comes to eg 50 kg uranium – Not even enough to contaminate half a square meter.

Allow me to raise a number of questions, to which I unfortunately can not provide complete answers to – but better than most.

But first:
The many confusing units is a recurring challenge.
Milli Sievert is the unit of biological effects of ionizing (radioactive) radiation.
There has never been found injuries after brief irradiation under 100 mSv
500 mSv is 100 times the normally permitted. This will cause minor symptoms of acute radiation sickness, but does not call for shorter lifespans.
3,500 mSv will cause half of the irradiated will die and that the survivors will have an average life span three years less than the general population.
If the radiation is spread over longer time, it is less harmful.
Bq Becquerel is one radioactive decay per second and is a very small unit:
We all carry around with some 4,500 Bq from natural sources.

Unfortunately, there is no clear relationship between mSv and Bq
Alpha and Beta radiation would only be dangerous if the radioactive material eaten or inhaled.
Neutron radiation causes severe radiation damage, but is found only a short time after a nuclear bomb explosion.
Gamma radiation can be very harmful.

How dangerous is ionizing (radioactive) radiation?

  • It is known that populations have lived for generations in areas with fairly high natural radioactivity.
    Far more than the “permissible”.
    However, without the expected injury taking place.
    Most pronounced is the area around Ramsar in Pakistan: Over 200 mSv / year, mostly from radon.
  • I reject numerous, obvious fake atrocity stories, probably originating from Greenpeace or followers.
  • For political reasons there has been set unrealistically low values for permissible radiation. Both Chernobyl and in Fukushima.
  • How much does it take to make a large area uninhabitable?
    And how many kg / ton material will be needed?
    Here I can not give a precise answer.
    But it will need much more than a terrorist ‘just’ find in hospitals and the like.
    My guess is that it will be necessary to empty a good lot of stuff out of a pair of nuclear reactors.

But now comes the real question:

How should this terrorist protect himself from radiation while this radioactive material is assembled and before it has been spread out?

  • Although you see pictures of “green activists”, wearing white suit with breathing apparatus, these very large amounts of radioactive material must be handled by remote control behind a wall of lead.
  • The white suit seen in many images is completely ineffective against radiation, but may give (false) credibility.
  • Do not forget that it is assumed that this radioactive material should be sufficient to kill “countless people” and that it will be necessary to get hold of something that is far beyond a mere bagatelle.

A realistic “dirty bomb”, that is not known to have been tried, is something quite different:
It is a ‘ordinary nuclear bomb’ that is surrounded by a second material, e.g. cobalt, that will be radioactive by taking up some of the neutrons that are left over from the explosion of the nuclear bomb.
But even this will not be enough to make a “Radioactive Tsunami”.
I wonder if we should leave all further talk about a dirty bomb to the professional horror prophets who ignore the realities, but uses the subject to spread fear.
More: See
Radiation and cancer.
Greenpeace’s credibility is a myth.
And if you are not tired, then:
Check the facts.

Greetings from Thorkil Søe

If you, my unknown reader, have relevant additions, modifications or factually reasoned objections, I ask you to write to me at