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Cool Things - Radiation Meters

Cutie-pie radiation meter

Scientists monitored Kansas' radiation levels with these meters during the mid-20th century.

"Kansas received high doses of nuclear fallout"
Topeka Capital-Journal, July 31, 1997

Newspaper headlines caused a mild panic in the summer of 1997, as Kansans learned they'd received unusually high doses of radioactive fallout from 1950s nuclear weapons tests in Nevada.

A government study warned that children in the farm belt received the highest exposure because the fallout was spread largely through milk, which children tend to drink more of than adults.

Scientists from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) have since reassured Kansans they were not in danger. KDHE is well aware of the state's radiation levels because it has monitored the environment since the beginning of the Atomic Age.

A collection of radiation meters, including the pictured "Cutie-Pie" survey meter, was donated to the Kansas Museum of History by KDHE's Radiation Control Program in 1998. The meters were used for routine testing of air, water, milk, and soil from the 1950s through the 1980s. Most of the donated instruments became obsolete when the mercury batteries required to power them were no longer available.

The "Cutie-Pie" survey meter measures beta, gamma, and x-ray radiation. The model was used as a prop in the original Star Trek television series because of its futuristic design.

Entry: Cool Things - Radiation Meters

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: November 1997

Date Modified: December 2012

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.