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question on lights please help!

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john d:
can someone please help    i work for a school district that has removed all the tritium exit lights from all of the bldgs   my question is how safe are these to be around   their are a couple that are broken and at least a 100 or so that are stored in our repair garage  i really dont want to make a big deal to my boss but i do feel my health and the health of my co workers is at risk   nobody seems to have a straight answer   my boss said that the same stuff is in your watch is this true should we be concerned   thanks to all who answer

"The low energy beta radiation from tritium cannot penetrate human skin, so tritium is only dangerous if consumed in large quantities. Small amounts are used with phosphors for self-illuminating devices such as watches and exit signs."

This paragraph was online in an article about the Safety Light Corporation in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.  From what I know, the old lights should be disposed of and not left piled up in a garage.  That being said, I wouldn't think it is a deadly situation.  Just my opinion.

Don't snort em, wash your hands, it's no big deal

I know I could find a use for 100 tritium signs ;)  top off some of my night sights....

as sum buddy whose got a fare amount of experience with tritium, or h3 az its known isotopically, eye can tell you it's not a big deal.  da radiation from  h3 behaves like an alpha even though its beta.  what dat means for real people, i.e. non-nukes, is that it is not an external hazard.  you can hug those signs and the radiation will not penetrate your dead skin cells, which are exterior to you skin cells ( the live ones, ok?) and so will not affect your body.  the radiological hazard is from any loose contamination that may be present, witch is why hydrodave63 said "don't snort em, wash your hands, its no big deal".  iffen yer really worried about da presence of loose contamination of  h3 , yer gonna probably hafta notify yer state radiological protection department.  usually they're in with the environmental area of the state bureaocracy, but they may be in with hygiene, safety, or whatever.  it gets into a technical thing, cause most alpha/beta detectors will not detect  h3 .  with a swipe analysis, ya can't use your normal procedures.  their needs to be a specialist involved. 

Exit signs containing tritium very often contain whopping amounts,  not small amount like 20 curies is not uncommon.

Ya weak beta so no external hazard but if you have broken vials there is a pretty high contamination hazard and potential risk for ingestion dependent upon where they were broken at and wether its in liquid or gaseous form.

If you work for a school district then we don't want all the little kiddies contaminated with H3 do we ???

I would recommend you tell your boss its something that needs to be addressed and fixed.

Don't know what state your in but I bet if you call this number (anonymously if preferred)

Call NRC's 24-Hour
Headquarters Operations Center:
(301) 816-5100

And describe what you have explained they will explain to you that it could be a very deal indeed.

Tritium is one of the very least hazardous radioactive isotopes but a curie is a curie and it sounds like you might have a lot of activity in the shop.

for what thats worth



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