Newark Airport’s Terminal A was closed briefly today when a computer monitor set off whatever alarms are set off when something emitting radiation passes by.
That must have been some computer, because just about everything gives off radiation. By the end of the day, hopefully, somebody will ask why this computer monitor gave off more radiation than any of the other things we use on a daily basis. And after that, the next logical question is who on earth travels with a computer monitor? And who checks a computer monitor for baggage, then flies a different flight? Suspicious activity at the airport? That qualifies.
But back to radiation. Here’s a great little Web page from the American Nuclear Society which calculates how much radiation you’re exposed to on a daily basis. While Minnesota might be more protected because it’s not near the ocean or the plateaus of Colorado, it has its share of coal-fired and nuclear power plants.
Do you live in a stone or brick building? That’s 7 millirems (you’re allowed about 5,000 millirems a year before it gets serious).
Presumably, today’s incident involved a CRT monitor. That’s good for about 1 millirem, or an exposure equivalent to two hours of flight time in a jet. If you smoke half a pack of cigarettes a day, that’s 18 millirem.
What else has significant radiation in your home? CFL light bulbs, smoke detectors, and even granite countertops according to a fact sheet this year from the Health Physicians Society. Make a note of that. Next time you go to the airport, leave your granite countertop at home.
None of this, however, is particularly comforting. In fact, it serves to point out how insignificant a computer monitor’s radiation is. So why was this incident so significant?