Radiation...unseen, and what's around you ?

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Years ago, my HS physics teacher (he taught me about straight weight oils, VeeDubs, and Calgary) told us about a lecturer when he was at University who drew a sample of radioactive ore out of his upper desk drawer and showed it to anyone who seemed interested....apparently the lecturer had spent years with the ore positioned close to his leg/torso, and suffered horribly as a result...out of ignorance/stupidity. When I went to the power stations, radiography of welds, using isotope sources is very common. We were presented with training regarding the signage, limits, and the position of the Radiation Safety Officer as the ultimate authority if a pea sized source fell off it's winder...They controlled the shots, who went where, dropped bags where etc...ended with a true industry story of a "grunt" who got to the power station gate, the source (inside it's shield) was checked, and showed no activity...the source had been lost...said grunt miraculously presented a short time later with an active shielded source, and some time later passed in horrible condition...appears that he went and found it and refitted himself. Had some more training recently where people are starting to check the elemental composition of imported steels, for potentially radioactive elements, and overall radiation. In all of the fake pipe, mal heat treated pipe issues that I've come across over the last 6 or 7 years, never once has radiation contaminated pipe crossed my mind. Lecturer mentioned one of the biggest (known) contamination issues occurred when a radiotherapy machine was sold for scrap, and a truck load of contaminated rebar got lost, and turned into Los Alamos for directions. http://www.window.state.tx.us/border/ch09/cobalto.html
 

Shannow

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BTW, how many restaurants still have radioactive legs ? Have heard an Oz proponent of nuclear power point out that the best place (in his opinion) for nuclear waste is to be finely distributed into road base, across a country. His argument is that it's hard to retrieve, and the vast majority of road users are removed from the material by distance, and in most cases shielded by a metal plate...makes some sense.
 
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My employer has a large number of nuclear moisture/density gauges (for checking the compaction of soil and asphalt). They contain three radioactive elements (Americium, Berellym and Cesium) in very small quantities but its enough that we also have to have a Radiation Safety Officer, a special storage room for the gauges when not in use, protective film badges and special training and annual refresher lectures for all employees who are assigned to use them. Ironically, the same elements (or two of them perhaps) are or were contained in the smoke detectors in everyone's homes. Its been a while since I've looked inside one, but they used to contain these elements at least a few years ago.
 
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 Originally Posted By: css9450
Ironically, the same elements (or two of them perhaps) are or were contained in the smoke detectors in everyone's homes.
I wouldn't be so much worried about the radiation from the detector, but rather about improper disposal. You can buy a smoke detector with a photoelectric sensor. It just costs a little more.
 
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How about all the Electromagnetic radiation? There are so many TV, Radio, Cell Phone waves in the air now. What is that doing to our bodies?
 
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 Originally Posted By: Shannow
Have heard an Oz proponent of nuclear power point out that the best place (in his opinion) for nuclear waste is to be finely distributed into road base, across a country.
Sounds pretty good, but I wonder about the exposure to the road construction crews who are around the stuff 40+ hours a week. The famous physicist, Richard Feynman, carried some radioactive material in his pocket once and years later died of a cancer in an organ close to where he carried the radioactive material. Check out the book, "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman." It's a great read.
 
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It is not just how radioactive the source is, but also how long are you exposed to it, that can be a problem. In wife's workplace, they use radioactive tagged molecule to do experiment, and that's the only way to measure some of the activities. As soon as someone gets pregnant, she is immediately discouraged or prohibited from doing these experiments. Putting these radioactive material under the road is a horrible idea, because eventually we have to dig them up and the construction will just distribute it all over the place (airborne, landfill, near by soil, water, etc).
 
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This hits close to home as we have had two known radiation incidents here in the last few weeks. First, an x-ray machine, appropriately enough, was dumped on a backwoods road just south of my city. Then, not long after, a truck carrying lightly radioactive drilling sludge clipped an overpass and spilled its contents at an intersection that I used to pass through daily... Too bad it didn't all end up in a vegetable garden a la Gilligan's Island.
 
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 Originally Posted By: ZZman
How about all the Electromagnetic radiation?
EMR is not ionizing. Ionizing radiation causes invariably physical damage upon contact with cells and DNA. EMR can cause cell damage, but you really need to live close to a source of considerable output to put you at physical risk. For example, the leukemia rate directly around the Sutro Towers transmitter in SF is much higher than it is across the rest of the city. Also keep in mind that many radioactive substances, for example plutonium, are also extremely toxic.
 
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 Originally Posted By: css9450
Ironically, the same elements (or two of them perhaps) are or were contained in the smoke detectors in everyone's homes. Its been a while since I've looked inside one, but they used to contain these elements at least a few years ago.
"Americium is the only synthetic element to have found its way into the household, where one common type of smoke detector uses Am-241 in the form of americium dioxide as its source of ionizing radiation. The amount of americium in a typical smoke detector when new is 1 microcurie or 0.28 micrograms." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Americium
 
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All my watches are Luminox brand (Swiss), with 14 H3 capsules in each watch. So far no bad effects, as far as I can tell.
 
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It used to be common practice for our LEOs to sit with a radar gun in their lap and then point it at an oncoming vehicle. Most of those guys started coming down with testicular cancer, and now they don't lay the gun on the jewels.
 

Shannow

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 Originally Posted By: css9450
Ironically, the same elements (or two of them perhaps) are or were contained in the smoke detectors in everyone's homes. Its been a while since I've looked inside one, but they used to contain these elements at least a few years ago.
The source in your smoke detector is an alpha particle emitter (He nucleus) if you dropped a detector, it smashed, and you could see the source, a piece of paper would shield you almost completely from it.
 
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My father was a physicist who worked in Radar science for our govt. for 25 years. I remember going to his work, and him showing me the 'false floor' they all worked on, that when you lifted a panel up, was about 2-3 feet deep of bundled cables transmitting who knows what. He died at 52 after a six-year battle with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. His assistant got brain/lung cancer a few years later, but survived (barely). I asked him if they were given warnings about radiation...etc...He said 'Oh, sure they did; we just didn't pay much attention...'
 
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91 cast members of the film : The conqueror " shot in the Nevada desert just downwind from an A bomb test later died of cancer. John Wayne and Susan Hayward among them
 
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I've got a large Polonium 210 powered anti-static brush. It's about a year old, so the 500uCurie source has decayed substantially. (Po210's half life is 4.5 months.) If a new emitter element was dissolved or burned, and then ingested or inhaled, it would provide roughly one lethal dose. I also have a small Trinitite sample. Very cool! :)
 
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