Printer Friendly

Beware long-pent-up radium.

A physicist with the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, was about to order a new radium source for an experiment when he found an old one left by a predecessor. While he was attempting to open it, however, the top of the sealed glass vial unexpectedly "shot off like a bullet," recalls George John. His subsequent investigation shows that radiation-induced decomposition of water in the vial had, over 22 years, generated enough hydrogen to substantially increase the pressure in the void above the radium solution. He says that's why it exploded upon opening.

Alpha particle emitters, like radium, are most prone to this hydrogen buildup in sealed containers, according to John's calculations in the November HEALTH PHYSICS. So, he warns, "If you have odl radium samples--I'd say anything over five years old -- you had better be cautious" or risk contaiminating the environment with a jettisoned radioactive spray.
COPYRIGHT 1985 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Science News
Date:Dec 7, 1985
Previous Article:Bronze Age trade outpost uncovered.
Next Article:Bones of continuing contention.

Related Articles
Back off veto threat.
Frasier makes a run at four.
Activists unite at Long-Term Care Caucus.
Plan smart for the long term: Medicaid changes you should know.
World's warmest winter.
Sitka champ in trouble.
Alconox official helps gulf.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters