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Offline lifelongstudent

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Radium clock/watch safety? Radon specifically
« on: Jan 19, 2019, 11:27 »
My question is at the end, but for some context:

I'm a collector of many things, usually WWII related, and as such I've got some radium painted dials from aircraft instruments and watches/clocks. I've got two Lionel CDV700's to verify things are in fact "hot" even though the CDV's just detect beta and gama. The wisdom I'd always operated by was that radium is primarily an alpha emitter so the risks should be minimal so long as I don't open anything up. I just stumbled across an article that makes me question that though: https://www.northampton.ac.uk/news/wwii-military-watches-potentially-pose-serious-cancer-risk/
There are a thousand clickbait "radiation is evil" mass-hysteria type articles out there, but that one from northhampton is the only thing semi-official I could find regarding radon coming from watches and clocks. So what do you guys think? I'm by no means afraid of radiation, my office is at 45,000 feet, but I just want to get some informed opinions of whether I should look into some options for my 14X20ft man-cave.

Thanks!

Offline Rennhack

Re: Radium clock/watch safety? Radon specifically
« Reply #1 on: Jan 20, 2019, 01:19 »

Here is the correct technical reference to the risks of radon. https://www.nap.edu/read/5499/chapter/1#viii
1. Don't eat it, and you will be fine.
2. Don't grind on it and inhale the dust, and you will be fine.
3. Don't sleep on it, and you r exposure to it will be limited.  The more distant you are, and the less time, will significantly reduce your exposure.
4a. Radon is naturally occurring (Part of the decay chain of uranium to lead), and comes from the ground, especially after a rain when the water displaces the gas.  It is prevalent in basements, etc. We are all exposed to radon daily, just like solar radiation, or thorium in sand, potassium in your significant other.
4b. If you live in Denver, built on top of granite and a mile a high, you get about 150 milli-rems a year from naturally occurring background exposure.
4c. Radon is a gas, when you inhale it, it is in you.  When you exhale it, it is no longer in you.
5. The amount of radium or radon you would need to be exposed to to have detectable changes in your physiology are very large, on the order of many magnitudes more than you will ever see.
6. What does your CDV700 say it reads? Does it peg all of the scales? (50 mR/hr is the highest scale on that meter.)  Now hold the detector 3 feet away, what doe sit say?  Its like light, the farther away you get, the dimmer it gets.

Honestly, if you don't sleep on it, eat it, or grind it up and snort it, you will be fine.

If you are a miner, you have a real chance of death form lung cancer from radon.  Other than that.  Not so much. -- DO NOT be a miner.  They die from many things.Smoking + Radon is bad.
And... you are 4 times more likely to die in a car crash.https://www.epa.gov/radon/health-risk-radon
 

Offline Marlin

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Re: Radium clock/watch safety? Radon specifically
« Reply #2 on: Jan 20, 2019, 10:40 »
Point of interest for relative risk, Radon Therapy mines are still open.

http://www.radonmine.com/

Offline 61nomad

Re: Radium clock/watch safety? Radon specifically
« Reply #3 on: Jan 20, 2019, 09:29 »
you lost me at "office is at 45,000 ft"

Offline Marlin

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Re: Radium clock/watch safety? Radon specifically
« Reply #4 on: Jan 20, 2019, 09:41 »
you lost me at "office is at 45,000 ft"

Probably means the higher background at higher elevations. Just guessing.

Offline lifelongstudent

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Re: Radium clock/watch safety? Radon specifically
« Reply #5 on: Jan 21, 2019, 12:46 »
Thanks Rennhack & Marlin! It sounds like the age old advice is still true on how to handle these things. Normally I wouldn't have given half a second's thought to the article but the fact that a university published it made me stop and wonder. Googling things lately seems to lead to little more than ads and regurgitated material...

The CDV700 shows one particular clock at .5 mr/h at the face, and undetectable 6 inches away. Granted, I don't have an alpha probe for it and the glass should stop that anyway. I figured the direct radiation risk was non-existent, but I wasn't sure about the radon potential.

The 45,000 foot reference was because I'm a pilot. I know that gives me a far higher background level than most, and it sounds like the radon risk from these old dials isn't going to add to that any. Anyway, I appreciate the insights!

Offline scotoma

Re: Radium clock/watch safety? Radon specifically
« Reply #6 on: Jan 21, 2019, 10:07 »
Depending where you live and if your mancave is below grade, you could be getting much more naturally occurring Radon. Also, you have radioactive potassium in your body. The old Coleman lantern mantles used to be loaded with radioactive Thorium. Pranksters would bring them to the power plant and slip one into someones pocket inside the RCA so they would alarm the detectors. Radiation is a game of chance, just like flying, driving, eating bad food, and going to public places among other things.

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Re: Radium clock/watch safety? Radon specifically
« Reply #7 on: Jan 21, 2019, 04:04 »
When your flying at 45k feet, your getting over 2 mrem per 4 hour flight.
Radon is an equilibrium seeker, timepiece seals should preclude much leakage to your environment.
So, unless your watches and clocks are disassembled and open to the environment, your Radon exposure per week should be less than your flying occupational dose.

Offline Bonds 25

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Re: Radium clock/watch safety? Radon specifically
« Reply #8 on: Jan 21, 2019, 04:08 »
If anything, Radon exposure (what is normally encountered) shows a hormesis effect. Science shows installing ventilation in your home possibly does more damage to your health than what you're actually venting (Radon). Just more radiophobia that's been vomited on the public. Fearing Radon is just as crazy as fearing bananas....but nobody installs banana monitors in their homes.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080325122807.htm

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2477686/
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Offline Rennhack

Re: Radium clock/watch safety? Radon specifically
« Reply #9 on: Jan 21, 2019, 05:54 »
.but nobody installs banana monitors in their homes.

OMG, you are brilliant.  We need to sell Banana monitors.  They sell themselves!

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Re: Radium clock/watch safety? Radon specifically
« Reply #10 on: Jan 21, 2019, 06:13 »
Of course they will be shaped like a banana. The peel will mechanically go up and down at set intervals depending on area banana level concentrations. When the peel is fully retracted, it will go into alarm, the exposed banana will light up and Family Guy's "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" jingle will play.
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Offline Marlin

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Re: Radium clock/watch safety? Radon specifically
« Reply #11 on: Jan 21, 2019, 06:13 »


Banana equivalent dose(Noun) the radiation dose equivalent of consuming an average banana, equal to 0.01 mrem or 0.1 u03BCSv.







Offline RDTroja

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Re: Radium clock/watch safety? Radon specifically
« Reply #12 on: Jan 22, 2019, 09:00 »
I am just proud of myself for figuring out he was a pilot before I got to that part...

I once body counted an individual and when I saw the results I said 'Oh... had a banana for breakfast today' and he pretty much freaked out. He thought my machine could read his mind.
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Offline SpikeMe

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Re: Radium clock/watch safety? Radon specifically
« Reply #13 on: Oct 16, 2020, 05:02 »
Hi, I know the post is a bit old but still of interest (at least to me).
I possess one of these old clocks too. It's a 60s alarm clock that I recently tested for radiation with a geiger and there's definitely radium on the dials. However well-enclosed the clock may be and how there's no damage, there still could have been radon gas escaping from it and accumulating in my bedroom where I was storing it. I read some of the references cited by Rennhack, It is true that if you keep it at a distance, the radiation from the object can't reach you but do you think the university experiment cited by the OP is of no value ? What happens if you let this thing in a 85 sq Ft room (although with a trickle vent), wouldn't it accumulate radon up to dangerous levels ?

Offline RDTroja

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Re: Radium clock/watch safety? Radon specifically
« Reply #14 on: Oct 16, 2020, 10:10 »
Hi, I know the post is a bit old but still of interest (at least to me).
I possess one of these old clocks too. It's a 60s alarm clock that I recently tested for radiation with a geiger and there's definitely radium on the dials. However well-enclosed the clock may be and how there's no damage, there still could have been radon gas escaping from it and accumulating in my bedroom where I was storing it. I read some of the references cited by Rennhack, It is true that if you keep it at a distance, the radiation from the object can't reach you but do you think the university experiment cited by the OP is of no value ? What happens if you let this thing in a 85 sq Ft room (although with a trickle vent), wouldn't it accumulate radon up to dangerous levels ?

Short answer: No.
Longer Answer: No way.
Still longer answer: Not a chance.
« Last Edit: Oct 16, 2020, 10:11 by RDTroja »
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Offline SpikeMe

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Re: Radium clock/watch safety? Radon specifically
« Reply #15 on: Oct 17, 2020, 02:51 »
It may be so but here's the study on the 30 radium watches experiment:  https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://pure.northampton.ac.uk/ws/files/6318294/Crockett_Robin_E_2012_Radium_dial_watches_a_potentially_hazardous_legacy.docx.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwjR8eKigLvsAhVBxYUKHR0jDvAQFjACegQIAhAB&usg=AOvVaw24SPKuLXgk3Fdgx6BnfdV6

It seems that radon gas actually escapes from all the watches regardless of their condition. And the 30 watches accumulated radon gas up to threatening levels. Now I did not store 30 watches but an alarm clock is significantly bigger than just one, hence my worries. If you have time to take a look at it, what is your opinion ?

Offline peteshonkwiler

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Re: Radium clock/watch safety? Radon specifically
« Reply #16 on: Oct 17, 2020, 09:41 »
Short answer: No.
Longer Answer: No way.
Still longer answer: Not a chance.

What he said. 👏👏
Take an air sample. Trying to calculate a radon concentration involves too many variables to do so accurately. Take a long term sample. Take several a year. Having a source such as an antique timepiece is the same a having a source such as a concrete foundation.
A REM is a REM is a REM
Yea, though I walk through the boundaries of containment, I shall fear no dose, for my meters are with me.  My counters, air sample filters, and smears, they comfort me.

Offline SpikeMe

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Re: Radium clock/watch safety? Radon specifically
« Reply #17 on: Oct 17, 2020, 02:51 »
Well I might investigate that thanks. How would one perform such a measurment ?  And if there's probably nothing to worry about like the 2 of you said, how do you explain the massive amounts of radon gas found in the study ?

Offline Marlin

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Re: Radium clock/watch safety? Radon specifically
« Reply #18 on: Oct 17, 2020, 03:14 »
This may be a better source for information.

https://hps.org/publicinformation/ate/q11972.html

Offline SpikeMe

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Re: Radium clock/watch safety? Radon specifically
« Reply #19 on: Oct 17, 2020, 03:26 »
Thanks for the link. However the answer does not really address the question of the storing of such items and potential radon leakage from it. I might ask them my question

Offline Marlin

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Re: Radium clock/watch safety? Radon specifically
« Reply #20 on: Oct 17, 2020, 03:43 »
Thanks for the link. However the answer does not really address the question of the storing of such items and potential radon leakage from it. I might ask them my question

   Personally I would not worry about it unless you live in an unventilated house. One of the biggest sources of radon exposure is an unventilated basement that is not well sealed. The radium danger is only significant if you breach the watch and scrap off of the watch face making the radium respirable. In general radon produced under the watch face decays before escaping the watch only a small fraction escapes. Note that in the study you cited part of it was done with the watch face removed. You can store it in a sealed zip lock bag if you are concerned or another air tight container.

Offline RDTroja

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Re: Radium clock/watch safety? Radon specifically
« Reply #21 on: Oct 17, 2020, 04:15 »
Take a short trip through southern Pennsylvania. You will get more radon there than a lifetime of owning a radium dial clock.
"I won't eat anything that has intelligent life, but I'd gladly eat a network executive or a politician."

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Offline peteshonkwiler

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Re: Radium clock/watch safety? Radon specifically
« Reply #22 on: Oct 17, 2020, 06:52 »
Well I might investigate that thanks. How would one perform such a measurment ?  And if there's probably nothing to worry about like the 2 of you said, how do you explain the massive amounts of radon gas found in the study ?

https://m.bestreviews.com/best-radon-test-kits

Please define "massive amount".
A REM is a REM is a REM
Yea, though I walk through the boundaries of containment, I shall fear no dose, for my meters are with me.  My counters, air sample filters, and smears, they comfort me.

Offline peteshonkwiler

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Re: Radium clock/watch safety? Radon specifically
« Reply #23 on: Oct 17, 2020, 07:07 »

   Personally I would not worry about it unless you live in an unventilated house. One of the biggest sources of radon exposure is an unventilated basement that is not well sealed. The radium danger is only significant if you breach the watch and scrap off of the watch face making the radium respirable. In general radon produced under the watch face decays before escaping the watch only a small fraction escapes. Note that in the study you cited part of it was done with the watch face removed. You can store it in a sealed zip lock bag if you are concerned or another air tight container.
One of the problems with today's home systems is the sealing that has been done to minimize power usage for heating/cooling systems. These homes are ventilated, however the ventilation system supports the heating & A/C systems more than the habitat's. This is frequently a problem in brand new homes, with new furniture, carpeting etc that make people ill from the off gasing of these new materials.
To alleviate radon concerns while keeping a collection of radium timepieces, I would keep them hermetically sealed.
« Last Edit: Oct 17, 2020, 07:15 by peteshonkwiler »
A REM is a REM is a REM
Yea, though I walk through the boundaries of containment, I shall fear no dose, for my meters are with me.  My counters, air sample filters, and smears, they comfort me.

Offline SpikeMe

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Re: Radium clock/watch safety? Radon specifically
« Reply #24 on: Oct 17, 2020, 07:13 »
I'll cite the study :
"As described above, conservative and precautionary measurements of radon arising from a notional collection of 15 pocket watches, 18 wrist watches and a couple of miscellaneous items indicate that radon concentrations routinely exceed the UK HPA/NRPB Domestic Action Level of 200 Bq m-3 under conditions of high ventilation, rising to over 10 times that Action Level at lower ventilation rates."
"Our tests for radon demonstrate that a collection of watches with radium based paint can raise radon concentrations in a room where no radon was previously recorded. It is significant that the average concentration in this continuously actively ventilated room rose from negligible to over 200 Bq m-3, peaking at over 3000 Bq m-3 when the air circulation systems operated at reduced rates."

Seems pretty massive to me, although I don't know what they mean by high ventialtion. But I'll check a product from your link, the only way to know for sure is that I do radon measurments myself isn't it ?


(The piece is now sealed and stored in my garage)
« Last Edit: Oct 17, 2020, 07:14 by SpikeMe »

 


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