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scottswatches

How radioactive is your lume?

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I bought a gieger counter that fits into my phone.  It probably isn't the most accurate model, but the video is still quite informative

 

Now, how do I sell that Movado with the Radium hands??? :laugh:

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Very interesting post @scottswatches. A surefire way to check out originality of parts.

I hope no spiders entered the safety zone during filming.

 

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Well, as someone who has quite frequently discussed lume on the Forum and researched the subject, I can say that my own conclusions tally with what that video demonstrates. It should be stressed that watches lumed with radium-activated lume should be treated with respect and caution, and the novice repairer should not remove the crystal and touch or tamper with the lume. The video is incorrect about the half-life of tritium however - in fact it is less than 25 years and is measured at 12.3 years; fortunately as well, if ingested, tritium has a biological half-life of only 10 days, and so internal exposure to the radiation is of relatively short duration.

The fact that radiation is attenuated when it is directed through the movement and metal caseback of the watch means that it is probably worth storing one's radium-lumed watches in a substantial metal box - I myself use a heavy antimony jewellery box. And finally, before we all start panicking about our watch collection, radiation dose diminishes considerably with distance, so don't keep your radium watches under your nose, so to speak.

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You better get one of these, Scott......with all those old watches around your house/office, it must be like walking into Chernobyl. I'm surprised you don't actually glow yourself...you haven't started growing any extra 'bits' have you?:laughing2dw:

Image result for radiation suit

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47 minutes ago, scottswatches said:

I bought a gieger counter that fits into my phone.  

 

Now, how do I sell that Movado with the Radium hands??? :laugh:

 

You can't flog that now, Scott :yes:

Best send it to me, I'll cover the postage. :thumbsup:

Your welcome.

:biggrin:

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I think there are several previous threads along these lines still on the forum. I always contribute as my wife is an expert on radiation and knows the reality behind the 'problem' of lume, especially radium.

So radium... it decays by emitting alpha particles, which are energetic (and therefore potentially dangerous) but only over a VERY short range. The average alpha particle emitted by radium will only travel a few millimetres before being absorbed by some other material, such as the case of a watch. In fact tissue paper is strong enough to act as a barrier to alpha particles. 

Very few - if any - of these particles will ever make it out of the watch and into your wrist.

The poor women who died from using radium did so because they had a habit of licking the paintbrushes they were using to apply the radium, in order to keep the bristles in shape. This meant that large amounts of radium were ingested into, and came into direct contact with, the soft, delicate tissues of the throat, stomach and intestines. This, inevitably, led to the various cancers which caused their untimely deaths.

So, in short, there is nothing to worry about. Nothing whatsoever.

Nada!

 

 

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35 minutes ago, AbingtonLad said:

I think there are several previous threads along these lines still on the forum. I always contribute as my wife is an expert on radiation and knows the reality behind the 'problem' of lume, especially radium.

So radium... it decays by emitting alpha particles, which are energetic (and therefore potentially dangerous) but only over a VERY short range. The average alpha particle emitted by radium will only travel a few millimetres before being absorbed by some other material, such as the case of a watch. In fact tissue paper is strong enough to act as a barrier to alpha particles. 

Very few - if any - of these particles will ever make it out of the watch and into your wrist.

The poor women who died from using radium did so because they had a habit of licking the paintbrushes they were using to apply the radium, in order to keep the bristles in shape. This meant that large amounts of radium were ingested into, and came into direct contact with, the soft, delicate tissues of the throat, stomach and intestines. This, inevitably, led to the various cancers which caused their untimely deaths.

So, in short, there is nothing to worry about. Nothing whatsoever.

Nada!

 

 

Thank you for the technical details. I feel safer now around radium although not sure if I've ever had a watch with such lume....

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Just a further bit of info on this.  The Radium Girls case was settled in 1939, and Radium continued to be used until about 1955 on watches, but now no one licked the brushes and no one suffered like those early women did.

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I do not wish to get into a bun fight over the issue of radium lume safety but I have to correct you, dear AbingtonLad. Radium not only emits alpha particles, but also beta particles and gamma radiation. It is true that the major danger with radium lume, as I have often pointed out, comes when watch enthusiasts start messing about with old radium lume on their old watches, with the risks inherent in touching, inhaling or ingesting radium, even in very small amounts. Radium lume should therefore be treated with respect. In terms of a health hazard from a radium source when it remains outside the body, it is the beta particles and gamma rays that pose the real threat, and of these two forms of ionising radiation, attenuation by storing watches carefully and away from the body is easiest to accomplish in the case of beta particles, which are generally blocked by a solid object.

The point about radium lume for watch collectors is not that we should all panic and get rid of our old lumed watches; it is just a question of common sense and a bit of science - plus an understanding that it has now been shown that there is ultimately no "safe" threshold for radiation.

:)

 

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My watchmaker has severe tinitus, thyroid issues and a big hole in his garden full of lumed hands.   They sat near him in his worshop for years poisoning him.

 

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I love the idea of getting a Geiger counter just for the fun of seeing what it makes of my numerous Radium lumed watches.  Finding a reasonably accurate and reliable one at an acceptable price may prove a bit of a challenge though. 

In the meantime, for anyone requiring some basic knowledge about this oft-mentioned topic, have a look here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/science/aqa_pre_2011/radiation/radioactiverev1.shtml

Here's a pic of my Elgin GS MKII pocket watch focused as best I can on the crystal.  Note the brown radiation "scorch marks".  Ooohh, scary!  But they're there on the inside because the crystal has absorbed the bulk of the radiation which I infer means that the wearer can carry the watch with little to no risk of harm.

radiation.jpg

Inhalation/ingestion of the radio active material is what should be avoided.

It's like a plastic coffee cup.  The liquid inside may be very hot and would scald you if you're dumb (litigious) enough to spill it on yourself, but the plastic cup is insulating you from the harmful temperature within which is, of course, also "radiation".

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26 minutes ago, rhaythorne said:

I love the idea of getting a Geiger counter just for the fun of seeing what it makes of my numerous Radium lumed watches.  Finding a reasonably accurate and reliable one at an acceptable price may prove a bit of a challenge though. 

 

£27

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nuclear-Radiation-Detector-Counter-Android-BLACK/dp/B011IZCWCY/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1532354477&sr=8-8&keywords=geiger+counter

worth it for me, so I know what I am working with (both for safety, but hopefully to also avoid paying too much for something that has had a new dial and or hands in the past)

I also have a customer who will not buy any watch with any lume at all, in case of radiation.  I can now demonstrate that.

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3 minutes ago, rhaythorne said:

Unfortunately I'm one of that rare breed that's using Windows Mobile :)  In fact it might be just me :laugh:

Then save your money for a proper phone first :laugh:

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yes;  this forum has a vast number of posts on radium dials - all good.  I lost a distant relative to "1939 military dials".    I say,  it was not a habit to lick a paint brush,  but the ladies were not informed on the danger of radium !   I have a Giger Muler   counter from the   50's.   and  1943 German panel clock that will "peg the dial".   DON'T WORY   its mainly  ww11 clocks and watches!.   that stuff is slowly disappearing.  thank God for Tritium,  vin

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23 hours ago, Always"watching" said:

I do not wish to get into a bun fight over the issue of radium lume safety but I have to correct you, dear AbingtonLad. Radium not only emits alpha particles, but also beta particles and gamma radiation. It is true that the major danger with radium lume, as I have often pointed out, comes when watch enthusiasts start messing about with old radium lume on their old watches, with the risks inherent in touching, inhaling or ingesting radium, even in very small amounts. Radium lume should therefore be treated with respect. In terms of a health hazard from a radium source when it remains outside the body, it is the beta particles and gamma rays that pose the real threat, and of these two forms of ionising radiation, attenuation by storing watches carefully and away from the body is easiest to accomplish in the case of beta particles, which are generally blocked by a solid object.

The point about radium lume for watch collectors is not that we should all panic and get rid of our old lumed watches; it is just a question of common sense and a bit of science - plus an understanding that it has now been shown that there is ultimately no "safe" threshold for radiation.

:)

 

Dear Aw,

My wife has a PhD in Nuclear Physics (with a specialism in radiation in medical imaging) and is head of radiation safety at a number of hospitals across Cambridge, Suffolk and Essex... if you'd like to argue the point with her, be my guest!!

 

Edited by AbingtonLad
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I am just a bit annoyed... You can quote all the qualifications you are able but facts are facts.

I shall now just give a couple of quotes from the Government of Canada, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission guidelines with regard to "Devices Containing Radium Luminous Compounds:"

 

"Radium and its decay products contained within the luminous paint of these devices are radioactive and exhibit alpha, beta and gamma radiation. The hazards from exposure to these forms of radiation can occur in two ways: by external radiation outside of the body and by exposure to internal contamination from radioactive material that has been ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin."

 

"Radium emits highly penetrating gamma radiation that may result in external radiation hazards to the whole body, extremities, skin and lenses of the eyes. Potential hazards can also exist from collections of such devices. High levels of radiation may develop if many of these devices are grouped together (e. in parts bins or cabinets).

 

Interestingly, although I have only just come across this very useful source of advice with regard to safety and radium-lumed devices, I find that it gives the same advice that I myself have provided on this Forum. There is no dispute that alpha particles are the main form of radiation from radium-lume, but when collecting old watches we also need to be aware that radium poses a potential hazard in the form of beta and gamma radiation.

I do not often become aroused with ire on the Forum, but I am irritated by the consistent insistence by some members that radium lumed watches are just completely harmless and that we don't even need common sense precautions in restoring, collecting and storing them. Heavens above, I have never indulged in scare-mongering, but merely ask members to be cautious with radium; it's no joke.

 

 

 

 

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