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We were discussing this very issue (NYC’s move to crack down on air monitors without a permit and all the ways you could get around this) at the recent Make: DC planning meeting. Bob Funk writes on HackedGadgets:

OK, NYC has it’s reasons to be a little careful but Richard Falkenrath, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for counterterrorism may be just a little bit too careful. As the Village Voice reports that the city is just a little worried that the good citizens might just report too many false alarms. If you read through the comments, a couple of people had the same thought I had. Smoke alarms give false alarms very, very often, and if you have an alarm system the firetrucks are coming just in case. Don’t some smoke detectors measure radiation increases? Plus in the greater New York area you can’t sell a house without a Radon Test and in some houses there is a powered radon detector so you get a warning if the abatement system fails. So if I can’t have one of these. Can I use this?

(It’s an Alpha Radioscope, used for detecting alpha particles).

They can have my Geiger Counter when they pry it from my glowing hand – Link

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor for Boing Boing and WINK Books. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.


  • anw

    no, smoke detectors do not detect radiation. But, they use a radioactive source to ionize the air, and if particles (smoke) enter its little chamber it will alter the current that is able to pass through the chamber and the ions.

  • AnonymousEngineer

    A look through the state law books dating back to the bad old Civil Defense days may be useful. I know in my state people were required to keep certain items like a first aid kit on hand for CD under state law.

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