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seikoskx

Should I be worried about radium?

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I recently bought a few old cheap watches to work on and I believe some of them have radium on the dial and hands. Yesterday I accidentally touched the dial with my fingers and opened up the others to inspect them.. Should I be worried? Should I not work on watches with radium on them? 

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33 minutes ago, seikoskx said:

I recently bought a few old cheap watches to work on and I believe some of them have radium on the dial and hands. Yesterday I accidentally touched the dial with my fingers and opened up the others to inspect them.. Should I be worried? Should I not work on watches with radium on them? 

As long as you washed you hands and didn't ingest any, you will be OK.

Yes you should be careful with radium watches, some prefer not to touch them at all.  If they are just cheap old watches, personally I wouldn't open them. They relatively safe as long as you don't open them(or wear them all the time) - the glass and case will stop the alpha, and as long as the radium isn't plastered on, the gamma shouldn't be too bad. 

I have worked on a few, but only after extensive reading-up, and taking (probably more than necessary) precautions.

I bought a 'Pocket Geiger' counter and when working with radium wear face mask, gloves and make sure that I work in a 'sterile' environment.

Try this article http://www.vintagewatchstraps.com/luminous.php

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34 minutes ago, mikepilk said:

As long as you washed you hands and didn't ingest any, you will be OK.

Yes you should be careful with radium watches, some prefer not to touch them at all.  If they are just cheap old watches, personally I wouldn't open them. They relatively safe as long as you don't open them(or wear them all the time) - the glass and case will stop the alpha, and as long as the radium isn't plastered on, the gamma shouldn't be too bad. 

I have worked on a few, but only after extensive reading-up, and taking (probably more than necessary) precautions.

I bought a 'Pocket Geiger' counter and when working with radium wear face mask, gloves and make sure that I work in a 'sterile' environment.

Try this article http://www.vintagewatchstraps.com/luminous.php

Well one of them doesn't have a crystal

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This has been addresses in another thread, see here =>

https://www.watchrepairtalk.com/topic/10086-radon-hazards-of-luminous-timepieces/?tab=comments#comment-91769

 

The short answer, is no, you should not be worried. However, you should take a little extra care in future.


There was a very small risk when handling that single watch, but that risk is not worth loosing any sleep over.

You almost certainly got more exposure to radiation that day, from simply going about your daily business.

The trouble comes from cumulative exposure without protection. Read the thread I linked above, and you will get a better idea of what I mean.

It is true, that any exposure is not a good idea, but nor is exposure to lead, asbestos, mercury, benzine and other similar hydrocarbons, chlorine.. I could go on, but in all of these cases, the biggest risk when dealing with low levels of exposure is from the cumulative effect of repeated exposure. The more you come in to contact with hazardous materials (especially things like heavy metals, which your body finds difficult to remove, or radioactive materials which can be absorbed into some body tissues), the greater the risk. 

Radiation exposure is generally poorly understood by most of us. This chart may give you a better idea of doses.

https://xkcd.com/radiation/


In summary, the more you handle without protection, or the more you ingest small quantities of these materials, the more cumulative dose you receive, and the more likely that is to cause health problems. Your body is designed to deal with the constant damage from small levels of background radiation.  One brief, small exposure is therefore of little consequence. Multiple exposures over the long term, or large exposure to highly radioactive material (like the core of a nuclear power plant) over a very small period on the other hand are a bad thing.

So use gloves, keep exposure risk to a minimum, and clean up any loose material you find. Dispose of it carefully and wash your hands with soap and water afterwards, and you should be fine. For the same reason you shouldn't cross the road without looking, you shouldn't handle potentially dangerous materials without understanding and mitigating the risks either. 

Edited by AndyHull

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A chemical bond between two atoms A and B, gets formed when oribital electrons of atom A, take a tour and orbit around nuclei  B as well, a new molecule AB with it's own specific chemical properties is formed, which can then enter consequent chemical interaction, so radioactive nuclei gets in cycles the same as non-radioactive ones.

This means radioactive nuclei get in our drinking water as easy as  non-radioactive ones and get in vegetation, dairy, meat ,wool and cotton , including our body.  

Once a radioactive source gets inside our body, it will continue with the job on chemical interaction,  it will come it contact with other chemicals in us including the acid our stomach spreads on it and the products of stomach chemical pot, there a new story develpoes, if it gets absorbed and gets in our blood system among others, it may spend long times circulating through the system or go to a cell to get burnt, our cell provide oxygen to burn the food and get energy from it and some heat, this is how the heat in our body is generated, We are a thermodynamic body.

If the nuclei get in subsytems that dont throw it out, blood circulation system for one, it can spend years within our body and generously distribute radiation through out us. 

Radiations emitted by nuclear reaction are of several orders of magnitude higher enrgy compared to atomic reactions and can easily break weaker chemical bond cauing undesired new bond, such undesired bond cause a change in programming of the molecule or cells, among numerous defence mechanisms our body may deploy, is to store all such disorederly cell in one place and wrap tissues aroumd them to keep them contained in company of otherwise rejected cells ( cancerous tumors).  

If you don,t stop me here and don,t go to the next topic,  within an hour I will have got to the dangerous parts of this story. 

 Joe

 

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On 2/3/2019 at 9:08 AM, Nucejoe said:

A chemical bond between two atoms A and B, gets formed when oribital electrons of atom A, take a tour and orbit around nuclei  B as well, a new molecule AB with it's own specific chemical properties is formed, which can then enter consequent chemical interaction, so radioactive nuclei gets in cycles the same as non-radioactive ones.

This means radioactive nuclei get in our drinking water as easy as  non-radioactive ones and get in vegetation, dairy, meat ,wool and cotton , including our body.  

Once a radioactive source gets inside our body, it will continue with the job on chemical interaction,  it will come it contact with other chemicals in us including the acid our stomach spreads on it and the products of stomach chemical pot, there a new story develpoes, if it gets absorbed and gets in our blood system among others, it may spend long times circulating through the system or go to a cell to get burnt, our cell provide oxygen to burn the food and get energy from it and some heat, this is how the heat in our body is generated, We are a thermodynamic body.

If the nuclei get in subsytems that dont throw it out, blood circulation system for one, it can spend years within our body and generously distribute radiation through out us. 

Radiations emitted by nuclear reaction are of several orders of magnitude higher enrgy compared to atomic reactions and can easily break weaker chemical bond cauing undesired new bond, such undesired bond cause a change in programming of the molecule or cells, among numerous defence mechanisms our body may deploy, is to store all such disorederly cell in one place and wrap tissues aroumd them to keep them contained in company of otherwise rejected cells ( cancerous tumors).  

If you don,t stop me here and don,t go to the next topic,  within an hour I will have got to the dangerous parts of this story. 

 Joe

 

All of the above is true, however we have a built in repair mechanism that mainly takes care of all of this damage, other wise we would rapidly be destroyed by all of the natural radiation around us, including ultra violet radiation, natural and man made sources of nuclear radiation, xrays from medical, industrial and even, natural sources. Solar activity, etc. etc.

By and large, all of these things have the potential to kill us, and, arguably, slowly do so over the course of our lives, however the degree to which they damage us, is largely dependent on the level of exposure.

So absorbing a little radon from the granite worktop in the kitchen, or the remaining nuclear pollution from the atomic tests of the 60s and 70s, or from Chernobyl, or the Windscale fire (google it).. or whatever is not going to do us in any day soon.

Statistically it might, but in reality, we are more likely to get run over by a bus, or fall down the stairs and break our neck, or electrocute ourselves with the toaster, or smoke or drink or over-eat our way to an untimely end than we are to kill ourselves with one or two watch dials. Having said that, as has been stated before, don't lick the dial, and don't stick your fingers in the electricity socket, if you do smoke, don't exhale etc.  and you should be relatively safe (well maybe not the last one).  

Edited by AndyHull

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Hi Andy,   We have considerable control over sheilding from the source , providing we can identify it's location and the type, yet tend to regard the relative inevitability of exposure  to background radiation as Natural, even harmless while exposure to source is inseparable from background radiation. Exposure we read on a gieger counter understandably exceeds absorption, not so if the source gets inside our body, specially if it stays in.

All I said about redistribution of the source by nature and eco system can be shelved as background radiation.

Human body's defense capabilities however is limited to biological, biochemical, and cleaning, that is our body lacks nuclear defense capabilty,  to identify and interact with nuclear reactions. All it can do is to collect the casualties.

While chemical absorption much depend on what we ate proir or right after eating the source. Nuclear absorption depend on source strength and GPS of the source and the victim. So if the Doctor examining me has a cancerous tumor he dosn,t know about, he is radiating me which he and I ,neither know about.:lol:

You are very right comparing risks, degree of voulnerabilties and drawing conclusions.

Joe

 

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i studied this quite extensively since i use to have cancer and received radiation treatments, and i work on vintage military watches which always contain radium. 

 

Radium can not be absorbed through the skin so touching is not much of a risk as long as you are not licking your fingers or picking your nose after handling a radium dial. but there are two ways to absorb radiation from lume. 

 

1: Ingestion- through this process 80% flushes out from digestion. 20% gets absorbed into the blood and is distributed to organs and eventually will metabolize in the bones like calcium. It will then break down over a period of months in the form of both alpha and beta.

2: Inhalation- 100% absorbed through the lungs then 20% broken down through liver. 80% will metabolize in bone. it will still break down the same way but will take longer because more has been absorbed.

so contrary to popular belief radium will not stay in the body forever, therefor limiting how much and how often you are exposed to it will determine if you are at risk. the story of the radium girls. these women who would sharpen their paint brushes laced with radium with their lips to keep the tips sharp for luming watch dials ingest a whole lot of hot radium per day. at least 100-200 dials per day, then they started realizing that it would glow so they thought it would be cool to use it as make up. and not all of these women ended up with cancer. so short answer is a definite NO! do not worry. just use gloves and a mask if you feel like you want to be careful. and DONT lick the dial LOL

Edited by saswatch88

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I thought it worth waking up this dead thread, just to let you all know, if you want to potentially add to the low level radioactive waste in your work area, there is an interesting lot on fleabay...

s-l1600.jpg

 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Vintage-Box-with-Luminous-Powder-Watch-Hands-Watchmakers-Watch-Tools/264582467029?_trkparms=aid%3D111001%26algo%3DREC.SEED%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D40733%26meid%3Ddb39ea03d137414683bb1f1dc365c8f6%26pid%3D100290%26rk%3D3%26rkt%3D4%26sd%3D153778189660%26itm%3D264582467029%26pmt%3D0%26noa%3D1%26pg%3D2060778&_trksid=p2060778.c100290.m3507

Time to crank up the old geiger counter and see what wonders lie in those innocuous looking glass tubes.  Judging by the vintage of it, there is a reasonable chance that you might get some radium or tritium in them. Of course I might be wrong, and it may be jusy plain old boring strontium aluminate.

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Interesting!

Just FYI a company called Charles Montandon used to produce various watch repair tools and either mark their tools "Chs. Montandon" or "CAM" ... your ebay 'magic powders' have the latter. Let us know what the Geiger counter reveals!

image.png.d8f54b794e8f83ca3adeda048e1a735c.png

 

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If you have been following this discussion on radioactive lume, you might find this interesting.
 

 

Something to bear in mind, most "radioactive" watches are mildly hazardous, if the lume particulate is allowed to escape in to the environment which is why the majority of watches produced today do not contain any radioactive material.

There are a few exceptions that have tritium tubes, but they are mainly intended for military or dive use. 

The doses in normal use from wearing an old radium, Promethium or tritium lumed watch are almost too small to measure, however the devices in this video are actually a genuine radiation risk, all be it a relatively low one.

If, on the other hand, you are looking for something to calibrate your Geiger counter with, then you might like this ebay search -> https://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_odkw=Negative+Ion+powder&_sop=15&_osacat=0&_from=R40&_trksid=m570.l1313&_nkw=Negative+Ion+&_sacat=0

Buy at your own risk of course. :unsure:

The one I found most concerning was this.
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Pack-of-4-Energy-Armor-Negative-Ion-Sports-Hair-Bands-Providing-Natures-Ions/251469259674?epid=1388443313&hash=item3a8cbc639a:g:XK0AAOxyXzxTGcHK

s-l1600.jpg

Edited by AndyHull

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wear nitrile gloves and a dust mask if it makes you feel better , and don't lick the dial. I do know that way back before radio activity was understood, factory workers who applied radium lume had many health problems brought about by sharpening the brush in their mouths.  it also has a very long half life, even though the lume is spent it is still radio active.treat it with respect.

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