Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

The Mysterious Radioactive Cheese Grater (Made in China)
WXYZ Detroit ^ | 11/06/08 | WXYZ

Posted on 11/06/2008 7:08:50 AM PST by Kieri

(WXYZ) - Scientists say a common kitchen utensil that was discovered in a Michigan scrap yard is radioactive. So, the Action News Investigators wanted to know how the contaminated cheese grater got into this country in the first place.

[Heather] Every time a truckload of scrap metal arrives at Genessee Recycling in Flint… the metal is screened by radiation monitors.

In August… the alarms went off… sending workers scrambling with hand-held radiation detectors to find the contaminated item. Surprisingly… their detectors led them to this simple kitchen utensil.. a cheese grater.. stamped with the words “Made In China.”

As if a radioactive cheese grater isn’t odd enough… what’s even stranger is that the kitchen tool contains a peculiar element -- the radioactive isotope Cobalt 60.

[Bob Skowronek/Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality] “You don’t often find Cobalt 60 loose in places.”

[Heather] Bob Skowronek is with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality – the agency that tested the grater. Unlike uranium, which is naturally occurring, Cobalt 60 has to be made using a nuclear reactor. It emits the strongest form of radiation – called gamma rays.

Bob Skowronek says it’s the wire rim of the grater that’s radioactive – and he says the radiation levels are not harmful because they are low – only 3.5 microcuries of Cobalt 60.

[Bob Skowronek/Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality] “Based on the measurements we took, if someone were to hold it at this distance and scraping cheese through it for 100 hours, that would be about equivalent to a chest xray.”

[Heather] Obviously, no one’s going to grate cheese for 100 hours straight – but think about this: If the grater is in your kitchen drawer…and you’re standing near that drawer – the gamma rays can pass through it – which means you can absorb the radiation.

It’s now estimated that it’s at least 8 years old – possibly older. And since Cobalt 60 decays over time – the radioactive levels would have been about 3 times higher when it was new.

[Dr. Michael Harbut/Toxicologist] “There is no such thing as an absolutely safe level of radioactive exposure.”

[Heather] Royal Oak toxicologist Dr. Michael Harbut says even though the government is saying the current radiation levels are low – he still doesn’t think a pregnant woman or small child should be near the grater.

[Dr. Michael Harbut/Toxicologist] “The most important thing to consider is, do you want to add another source of possible cancer or premature death to the risk already being faced by your children. And I think the answer is absolutely not!”

[Heather] The grater is made by EKCO – which is owned by the company “World Kitchen.” So how did Cobalt 60 get inside the wire rim of the grater? Nuclear experts tell us that most likely – the radioactive material got melted together with the stainless steel used to make the grater in China. And since products like this are made in big batches – this may not be the only one out there.

[Dr. Michael Harbut/Toxicologist] “I think it’s safe to assume there’s more than 1 Chinese cheese grater made with Cobalt 60 in the United States of America.”

[Heather Catallo] “Would you want this cheese grater in your kitchen?”

[Bob Skowronek/Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality] “I wouldn’t.”

[Heather] Neither would Rosemary Pineau. She loves to cook and spends a lot of time in the kitchen.

[Rosemary Pineau/Cook] “I don’t care how low the dose – when they tell you they have ranges of safety, normalcy, or whatever, I’m not interested in even putting myself in that position or even anybody else.”

[Heather] So what’s being done to make sure other possible radioactive graters are not in your home? And what’s the federal government doing to find out how Cobalt 60 got into this thing in the first place? It seems to be a bureaucratic hot potato.

Following the rules -- the Michigan DEQ sent their information to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. From there, the NRC told the Action News Investigators that they handed the case off to the Environmental Protection Agency… The EPA did tell me they’re working with World Kitchen… but offered no insight about how Cobalt 60 got into the grater.

And here’s what World Kitchen has to say: In a written statement, they told us they hired an expert who determined the grater poses no safety issue to consumers. They also say they tested 25 of the graters currently on store shelves – none of them were radioactive. World Kitchen is also investigating to find out who supplied the raw material 8 years ago in China, and they are no longer manufacturing the grater.

So how did the grater get in the country? Homeland Security officials tell me – it if came in today, it wouldn’t make it past the borders. But Detroit has only had radiation monitors for about 6 years, which may explain why the Cobalt 60 wasn’t detected. As for what you should do if you have a grater like this – the scientists I talked to say, it’s only $3 – if you have any concern at all, just replace it.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: Michigan
KEYWORDS: china; trade
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-4041-43 next last
This is a transcript of the video, which is available at the link.

I guess Melanine isn't the only thing on the menu anymore.

Now we have cheese-graters that melt the cheese for you!

1 posted on 11/06/2008 7:08:50 AM PST by Kieri
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: KylaStarr; Cindy; StillProud2BeFree; nw_arizona_granny; Velveeta; Dolphy; appalachian_dweller; ...

ping


2 posted on 11/06/2008 7:10:44 AM PST by Calpernia (Hunters Rangers - Raising the Bar of Integrity http://www.barofintegrity.us)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kieri

Probably just a terrorist cell using the cheese grater to break up some yellow cake to make a dirty bomb...

nothing to see here...


3 posted on 11/06/2008 7:10:54 AM PST by conservative_guyz
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kieri
“There is no such thing as an absolutely safe level of radioactive exposure.”

Yup. Stay out of Denver, Grand Central Station, and airplanes.

4 posted on 11/06/2008 7:13:09 AM PST by sionnsar (Iran Azadi|5yst3m 0wn3d-it's N0t Y0ur5 (SONY)|http://trad-anglican.faithweb.com/|RCongressIn2Years)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kieri

It slices! It dices! It even glows in the dark!


5 posted on 11/06/2008 7:15:03 AM PST by 6SJ7 (Atlas Shrugged Mode: ON)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kieri

I’ve often joked that much of the Chinese junk we see in Walmart is likely made from radioactive slag salvaged from their secret melted-down reactor.

Now with this story.... hmmm....


6 posted on 11/06/2008 7:15:38 AM PST by poindexters brother
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: conservative_guyz

Maybe grating medical waste. yikes!


7 posted on 11/06/2008 7:16:09 AM PST by Lawdoc (My dad married my aunt, so now my cousins are my brothers. Go figure.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Kieri

Now we know how China has solved their nuclear waste disposal problem.


8 posted on 11/06/2008 7:16:55 AM PST by SlowBoat407 (Go sell hopey-changey somewhere else.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kieri
bookmark ┤╛┴╫
9 posted on 11/06/2008 7:21:54 AM PST by ▀udda▀udd (7 days - 7 ways Guero >>> with a floating, shifting, ever changing persona....)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kieri

My high school physics teacher in 1974 had a piece of red Fiesta Ware that he used a geiger counter on. It made a lot of noise! Needless to say, that color had been discontinued years before.


10 posted on 11/06/2008 7:23:56 AM PST by stayathomemom ( nowanemptynester)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kieri
A while back, there were several kilotons of rebar contaminated with Co60, as well as the iron legs on some cafe tables.

A cobalt irradiator from a Mexican hospital got scrapped and made into rebar, tables, and some other things.

I wish people would stop referring to how many chest x-rays you'd get and just give a dose! Maybe compare it to how many hours of commercial flight would be better.

Articles like this are why people come to me looking to buy a Geiger counter, there is a pretty hot second hand market every time some news story scares people.

11 posted on 11/06/2008 7:25:54 AM PST by DBrow (NUMA!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kieri
[Heather] Obviously, no one’s going to grate cheese for 100 hours straight – but think about this: If the grater is in your kitchen drawer…and you’re standing near that drawer – the gamma rays can pass through it – which means you can absorb the radiation.

And your basic kitchen drawer is right at gonad level. No more Ecko or anything Chinese (okay, except Dim Sum) and my house!

Great quality control they got over there!

12 posted on 11/06/2008 7:26:10 AM PST by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: conservative_guyz
I realize you're joking but...

yellowcake contains no Co60, just U and its daughter products.

Co60 has a half-life of a bit more than 5 years, so it is not found in nature ever. It would make an OK dirty bomb, though, because a gram emits lots and lots of gamma in its brief live. yellowcake, though, has a half-live of over 100,000 years, so a gram does not emit much energy at any given time (makes a lousy dirty bomb).

13 posted on 11/06/2008 7:29:45 AM PST by DBrow (NUMA!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: JACKRUSSELL; nw_arizona_granny

ping


14 posted on 11/06/2008 7:30:15 AM PST by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: stayathomemom
My high school physics teacher in 1974 had a piece of red Fiesta Ware that he used a geiger counter on. It made a lot of noise! Needless to say, that color had been discontinued years before.

Yup. Uranium Dioxide glaze. My physics teacher had the same sort of bowl and did the same demo. Perhaps we even had the same fellow.

15 posted on 11/06/2008 7:34:25 AM PST by r9etb
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Kieri

Bureaucratic hot potato. We wouldn’t want to piss off the ones we are indebted to.


16 posted on 11/06/2008 7:39:14 AM PST by stevio (Crunchy Con - God, guns, guts, and organically grown crunchy nuts.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: conservative_guyz

it was probably just on the same container ship that al qeada brought the dirty bomb over on


17 posted on 11/06/2008 7:40:43 AM PST by edzo4 (Vote McCain, Keep Your Change)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: 6SJ7

Perfect for grating your melanine contaminated cheese!


18 posted on 11/06/2008 7:41:19 AM PST by Kenny500c
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: stayathomemom
Seen that. Its Alpha particles, not particularly dangerous.

There is also a blue color called “cobalt blue” than can set off a Geiger counter.

19 posted on 11/06/2008 7:43:01 AM PST by Little Ray (Joe the Plumber. He's our only hope... God help him.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Kenny500c

Doesn’t it give you a sense of pride
knowing we live in an age of atomic cheeze graters?

I remember reading a Mechanic’s Illustrated back in 1950
that said the world would have all kinds of atomic powered
hand tools by the year 2000, flying nuclear air craft carriers, atomic trains, and here we are.

Ah progress!


20 posted on 11/06/2008 7:51:20 AM PST by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-4041-43 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson