Letter Re: Diatomaceous Earth and “Nano Masks”

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Mr. Rawles:

Regarding the by another SurvivalBlog reader that mentioned that she had purchased Nano mask:  They have major flaw, so I’d rather choose [a full mask with] 95 filters: The Nano mask offers NO EYE PROTECTION. Think about it, if it can get into your mouth or nose, it’ll get into your eyes too.

Secondly, [swimming] pool grade diatomaceous earth will work too, contrary to what the website says. (I used to own a pool building business for nine years.. – Tamryn

JWR Replies:  I agree with both of your points. There are differences between natural diatomaceous earth  and the heat-treated (calcined) diatomaceous earth that is used for swimming pool filtration. Swimming pool diatomaceous earth can have a higher crystalline silica content (about 60%) and could be dangerous if taken internally. But it is still fine fro virtually all of the other typical uses–and the markup per pound can be 1000% higher for “store bought” diatomaceous earth. Any other touted difference consists primarily of packaging, marketing, and a bigger mark-up.So I recommend that you buy just a small quantity of “food grade” diatomaceous earth, and a much larger supply of typical swimming pool diatomaceous earth for killing pests and for water filtration. OBTW, diatomaceous earth has 101 uses around the house:  You can uses it to kill insects as a non-toxic alternative to poisons, in water filtration, hydroponics, to dust your chickens for mites, et cetera.

 

Letter Re: “Nano Masks”  (SAs: Asian Avian Flu, Protective Masks)

Hello Jim,
I saw the post on the blog about the Nano Mask and had to write in to offer some concerns about this system for LONG-TERM usage during an Avian Flu outbreak.

First, as their own web site discloses, if the Nano Mask filtered anything smaller than .027 microns then you would not be able to breath through it as the filter pores would be too small to handle the air flow of our inhalations. So, what they are telling us is that this “nano” filter media ultra-fine filter. Keep that in mind as I discuss the concerns I have…

Nano-Mask concern #1:
The Nano-Mask does not have an EXHALATION VALVE! This means, as their web site confirms, that both air coming IN (inhalation) and air going OUT (exhalation) are both equally filtered through the nano filter media. Unless I have someone in my household that has a weakened immune system, why on earth would I want to FILTER the air coming out of my lungs? Moreover, if properly prepared for a flu pandemic, my home would be a “CLEAN” area where the donning of protective masks would not be needed. Therefore, the only time I will need respiratory protection is when I go out where public contact may or will be expected, so why, again, would I want to filter my exhalations? This makes no sense for “survivalist-type” scenarios…

Nano-Mask concern #2:
MOISTURE!!! Since the nano mask has no exhalation valve and filters both inhalations and exhalations, all that hot, moist air I am exhaling is now DIRECTLY IMPACTING the nano filter media. Add in heavy breathing from physical exertion or stress and you are talking about a huge moisture problem! Unless specifically designed to do so, such as a water filter, moisture DESTROYS a filters ability to operate properly by CLOGGING the filter media with water. Gas mask filters are a great example! There is not a gas mask filter anywhere that I know of that works properly when WET, which is why ALL quality gas masks have EXHALATION VALVES. Think about that!

Nano-Mask concern #3:
SMALL FILTER MEDIA! Take a look at the Nano Mask replaceable filter media; it is a small triangular patch that mounts on a mask assembly. Since the Nano Mask does DOUBLE DUTY by filtering air coming in and air going out, this ultra-fine filter media will CLOG UP at least TWICE AS FAST as a comparable mask with an exhalation valve. Add in the moisture variable from your exhalations upon a small filter media and you have serious EFFECTIVE FILTER LIFESPAN issues!

In conclusion, the Nano filter technology is very promising, but let us keep in mind that the H5N1 virus is not like a “weapons-grade” biological agent as it always needs a CARRIER, such as water droplets (spit, tears, mucous or phlegm) or airborne dust where these water droplets attach themselves. This small virus IS NOT just floating around in the air by itself! Since this small virus, just like the common flu, is always attached to a LARGER PARTICLE, the CDC and WHO are justified in promoting N95 filters as effective protection from the H5N1 virus. Lets be real; does anyone really think the CDC and WHO would send in their staff, researchers, nurses and doctors into an H5N1 hot zone without EFFECTIVE protection? THEY are the ones who know the threat, not a company trying to market their masks to a fearful public with misleading information and a questionable product for the intended application.

I think your readers should be aware of the DOWNSIDE to the Nano-Mask as very few think and analyze the LONG-TERM feasibility of a protection product. I personally am recommending to friends and family, similar to the CDC and WHO, any N95 or N100/P100 mask with an EXHALTION VALVE (I like the 3M 9211 N95 mask) combined with lab-quality, shielded eye protection. In a truly contaminated environment (hospital during pandemic), I would not consider myself safe unless I was wearing full-face protection (eyes, nose, mouth) with HEPA filtration that a good quality military gas mask would provide (I like the Canadian C4 or Scott M95). Then comes DECON.   Baruch HaShem Yahweh, – Robert

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On Cellular Phone Privacy

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I’ve been asked by several readers for their advice on cellular phones. First, I should mention that the cellular revolution still hasn’t made its way to the Rawles Ranch. Perhaps it never will. I’d appreciate your e-mails with comments on this topic. (As a non-cellular kinda guy, I will surely leave out some important points.)

The general rules of thumb on cellular phones are as follows:

All cellular phones are vulnerable to interception–some are just a bit more secure than others. There is no privacy with a cell phone–or in essence with any other radio transmitter. None. Don’t kid yourself. Take my word on it–back when I was an intelligence officer, what I did for a living was supervise troops that did primarily did voice intercept and direction finding. Please don’t write to tell me that you saw on television that characters from The Sopranos use encrypted cell phones to talk with their mob buddies. Yes, it is possible, but there are three big problems with this: 1.) It is illegal for private Citizens to do so. 2.)  Doing so will instantly raise your profile in the eyes of authorities. Instead of being just one nondescript cell phone emitter in an ocean of emitters, your cell phone will suddenly become an “signal of interest.” (SOI)   3.) Even an encrypted signal can still be DFed.

Regardless of the type of cell phone that you use, if you remove its battery pack then it cannot be tracked. It ceases to be an emitter. (Without a battery it will not even produce local oscillator noise.)

Privacy and anonymity are worthy goals, but consider that their may be situations where you will want to have your location known–such as when you are calling 911 in the event of a car accident, or in a wilderness rescue/medevac situation. IMHO, to the ideal solution would be a cell phone on which you can selectively disable the GPS circuitry.

When the U.S. FCC mandated “Enhanced 911”  (“E911”– a.k.a. cell phone tracking), they set a standard for direction finding (DF) accuracy, but they left the method implementation up to the major cellular service providers. Some providers chose location schemes that depend on GPS chips. Others use time-of arrival radio direction finding. (The latter approach uses cell phone towers as the DF sites–creating a DF network with a very long baseline.) For details, see: http://www.edn.com/contents/images/198901.pdf  Because of this diversity of approaches, there are still many “loophole” cell phones that cannot be tracked or triangulated.  These include pre-GPS phones or phones with their GPS receiver disabled, subscribed in Sprint, Verizon, or Nextel service plan. But be advised that there is essentially no way to avoid tracking if your cellular provider employs time-of arrival radio direction finding. Do some research the next time that you change cellular providers.

The other important  aspect of cellular phone privacy is protecting your identity. Most cellular phone service plans require that you provide detailed billing information, a physical street address, and a credit card number. But what about those nifty “pre-paid” cell phones that you can buy at you local drug store?  For now at least, most pre-paid cell phones can be purchased anonymously.  They only lose their anonymity if and when you “recharge” their minutes with a credit card. (OBTW, I’ll discuss anonymous credit cards in a future SurvivalBlog post. But here is a hint to get you started: the Simon’s Mall chain sells anonymous pre-paid VISA debit cards.)

For more information, see: http://www.pcworld.com/howto/article/0,aid,114721,00.asp  and http://www.americanscientist.org/template/AssetDetail/assetid/47369 

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From David in Israel Re: HF Radio Propagation and Improvised Antennas

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Here is a good military level primer on HF radio propagation with some links on how to make improvised antennas. See:
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/fm/7-93/Appd.htm
For more fun, try Googling on the search phrase: “stealth, apartment, and wire antennas.”  There is an amazing science behind these home-built wonders.

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Letter Re: Disabling OnStar Vehicular Tracking/Communication Systems, Cell Phone Tracking, and Stocking Up on Prescription Medications

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Jim:
A few items that are of concern/interest to me as of late are topics that others have brought up. Don’t forget that disabling OnStar may be obtainable, but I surmise that disabling your cell phone would be patently dangerous in a slow slide or SHTF scenario. Learn [the details about] your cell phone, and VOTE WITH YOUR EAR! (Had to get that in there Jim!) I presume that handheld or vehicular mounted GPS  systems would also create some sort of signature or locale while in operation. Is this of noteworthiness? The last unit I bought, I purchased without any registration or anything. I assume if you subscribe to a service then by definition it has its “eyes upon you.”

Another item that I seek your expertise on is how to obtain an “annual stockpile” of necessary prescriptions. How do you recommend that your like minded blog readers go about this process? My last purchase of cold medication resulted in the showing of my I.D. before I could obtain it. I hesitate to think this is an easily remedied issue. Take Care, – The Wanderer

JWR Replies:

On cellular phones:   Coincidentally, I addressed these issues in another blog post that is also running today. (Wednesday, November 23, 2005.)

On GPS receivers: Pardon the following side step into ASA arcana (one of my past lives): Any radio receiver creates what is called local oscillator noise–a very weak signature that can be detected by very sophisticated monitoring equipment. But from a practical standpoint, it cannot be pinpointed except if you are up against a serious DFing team with some very sophisticated equipment, and only then if you are in an electromagnetic quiet zone such as out in the middle of a National Forest. Anywhere else, the local oscillator noise will get lost in the ambient clutter. So you can safely assume that a passive GPS receiver by itself is not a threat to your privacy. But when a GPS receiver is integrated with a cellular phone (which is of course an active transmitter), you can kiss your location privacy goodbye.

On prescription meds: It is a pity that most doctors in the urban and suburban portions of  the U.S. don’t have the same mentality that is prevalent in Alaska and the more remote regions of the intermountain west.  Here in the hinterboonies, many doctors are accustomed to getting requests for full-year prescriptions from ranchers, miners, bush pilots, and others that live out far beyond the sidewalks. Unless you have a relative that is an M.D., all that I can suggest is that you hunt around for a preparedness-minded doctor. Perhaps someone at church, or in your local shooting club. OBTW, I’ve heard that most LDS (“Mormon”) doctors are sympathetic to their patients that are survival-minded.  As far as insurance company reimbursement goes: Good luck! Many insurance companies refuse pay for more than a three month supply.

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News Item: 18,000 Point Blank IBA Vests Recalled

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The folks over at Military.com report that the U.S. military just announced the recall of more than 18,000 Interceptor Body Armor (IBA) vests because they did not meet ballistic test standards when the body armor was made. This is the second body armor recall announced this year. The recall affects only the outer tactical vest and its soft inserts, made by Point Blank Body Armor Inc. of Florida, and not the ceramic insert that also is used in the armor. Among the eight lots of body armor being recalled, more than 10,000 vests went to the Marines and more than 8,000 went to the Army. These vest procurement lots date back to up to five years ago. See: http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,80768,00.html?ESRC=dod.nl

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Two Letters Re: A Dedicated SurvivalBlog Amateur Radio Net?

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Jim:
A good frequency for two-way radio communications is the little-used [amateur] FM radio band on 220 MHz. (See: http://wireless.fcc.gov/220MHz/)  Very few scanners cover it–only the most expensive scanners do which most people won’t buy. The reason scanners don’t cover 200 – 300 MHz is because its [mainly] used by the military. For example, the control tower at Moffett Field Naval Air Station is on 301.something MHz.
In my research, I noticed that there are only two repeaters in Idaho that are on 220 and they are both in Boise. Outside of the big cities 220 is hardly used.  One exception is the Condor Net (www.condor-connection.org), which covers Nevada, California and Arizona. It is the only repeater network of its kind in the US. And it’s only available on 220MHz. I used 223.480 MHz simplex for many years. The comment from the guys that used [this band] was that it was like their private “intercom” because it was so quiet until someone got on and started talking. The user community on 220 is so small that everyone knows everyone on a first name basis. The range is as good as 2 meters and the noise floor is very low. Sparking electrical equipment does not effect 220 like it does 2 meters. There are still plenty of good radios are around for 220. Kenwood, Icom, Alinco, ADI, Midland and even Cobra made a few.

Right now there are two Midland cyrstal-controlled 220 radios on eBay ready to go. Excellent radios and there are plenty of parts [like custom crystals] available. (Hint, hint) They last forever.

If you are looking for almost secure communications and excellent range, then 220 is the way to go. It is not uncommon to make contacts to Donner Summit [of the Sierra Nevada mountains] with only 25 watts from the [San Francisco] Bay Area. A few 220 radios were made all-mode, including single sideband (SSB) and they are still around and still used. BTW, most of the people who own this scarce variety refuse to part with them. – Fred the Valmet-meister

JWR Replies: I wonder how difficult it would be to set up a dedicated 220 MHz repeater network in the western states, preferably all with net stations that use photovoltaic power. If the infrastructure would be too expensive, perhaps it would be best to just stick to HF .

James:
I think the proposal by David in Israel is like a dream come true for us that are new to the preparation meditation. I would love to be a part of the “frequency” network whether it be in using, or somehow helping out with the development, (albeit mostly inept experience in “radioing”) I for one would feel so much less alone if something were to happen and I knew that I could search for some sort of consortium in a TEOTWAWKI scenario.  Take Care, and a Sincere Thank You!,  – The Wanderer

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Letter Re: Diatomaceous Earth for Storage Food and “Nano Masks”

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Hi Jim:
Great to see young new people trying to start practical preparations. One cup of FOOD GRADE diatomaceous earth per five gallon bucket will keep the bugs out. All of my stuff is already in nitro packed buckets with oxygen absorbers, but someday we might not be able to get dry ice and O2 absorbers for packing grains, so I just ordered some diatomaceous earth myself. See: http://www.internet-grocer.net/diatome.htm

[The other topic that I wanted mention is] “Nano masks.” Mine just got shipped to me via UPS. I ordered them a month ago. Far more effective than N-95 [filter]s. See: http://www.2hdistributors.com/index/mn20442/bird_flu_home\ – God bless, Lyn

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Note from JWR:

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Today, I’m catching up on part of the backlog of e-mails from the past few weeks that I haven’t had time to post (or to answer). The flip side to the astonishing success of SurvivalBlog.com is my burgeoning list of new e-mails each morning. (BTW, I simply cannot answer them all–so please don’t feel slighted when I don’t reply.)

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