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Author Topic: Question about radiation.  (Read 896 times)

Offline Telegrapher

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Question about radiation.
« on: June 30, 2019, 2204 UTC »
Hi all, I have a Russian BC-348 J receiver laying around and Iíve noticed that it has a lot of radio luminous paint on almost any part for operation. The switches still glow slightly. All knobs are glowing and even the text on the front plate is all made up of radio active material to make it ďglow in the darkĒ..

Now Iím wondering what I should do with it. As I simply donít like the risk of being in front of a high level of radiation all the time.. I kinda want to get some helpful tips on what choice to make. I have a strong connection to the receiver as it was my first tube radio.. and it is kinda hard for me to get rid of it. But itís bothering me since I know that itís been radiating next to my bed all night long. And I am easily paranoid by the stuff I read regarding radioactivity and itís nasty effects. I barely touched the radio after I discovered this. Itís doing nothing at all for now except sending a lot of radiation..

Itís a painful decision as I had a lot of pleasure in the first few years of every day operation. Before I knew I was contaminated with radiation every day... The radio luminous paint is also kinda fading off. Just like little tiny parts slowly fall off without noticing after operational use. I am worried that I accidentally ingested or inhaled some little parts of it. But I have no real proof of it that the material has entered into my internal body.. like usual I just operated the radio like a computer and did eat after without washing my hands. So I wonder what the risks are and so on.. This is my worst discovery so far in my SWL hobby..  :(

Link to the discovery:

https://youtu.be/bmwKEhpqZPw?list=PL8UE9zbbkEisBK9uhpfYsF5-JeAp-cacU

I will appreciate any help, comments, and tips regarding what choice is the best. Itís a nice radio and a piece of history. All still original and never modified by anyone who owned the radio before I did.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2019, 2226 UTC by Telegrapher »

Offline ChrisSmolinski

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Re: Question about radiation.
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2019, 2253 UTC »
Coincidentally... I make and sell radiation detectors and have some experience in the field :)  https://www.blackcatsystems.com/GM/GeigerCounters.html

Do you know what radioisotope was used in the paint? I am guessing radium.  No matter what it is... something you do NOT want to ingest or inhale.  Strong alpha emitters are not extremely hazardous if they are contained (on the painted surface, etc) as the alpha radiation is easily stopped by a few inches of air. But if you get the material inside your body... not good. If the radioactive paint is flaking off, it's certainly a health hazard. 
Chris Smolinski
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Offline IQ_imbalance

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Re: Question about radiation.
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2019, 2326 UTC »
Ditto what Chris said.  Alpha emitters are harmless until you ingest or inhale them.  It's probably radium, but could be promethium, strontium, or (less likely) tritium....(https://www.orau.org/ptp/collection/radioluminescent/radioluminescentinfo.htm).  Promethium, strontium, and tritium are beta emitters which aren't quite as bad when ingested as alpha emitters, but you still want to limit your exposure as much as possible.

I think it would be a very interesting question which isotope the USSR preferred for their instrumentation. 

There are spectrum analyzers that can measure the radioactivity coming off a sample and return a list of the radionuclides present.  If you know any first responder types you might ask them if they have access to one....

Perhaps you could seal the paint back onto the radio with some nail polish or something similar?
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Offline Telegrapher

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Re: Question about radiation.
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2019, 2347 UTC »
Thanks for the quick response all. And nice to know where to buy Geiger Counters as I want to check if my room has traces behind from moving the radio (and my hands after operating this thing for a long time) to see if anything has been fallen off on my other radio it was standing on top off.

Yeah it would be a interesting thing indeed to check what kind of isotope the USSR used for their equipment. I heard a news report somewhere that they used to paint the walls of bunkers with radio luminous painting to keep it lit. And is still present over Russiaís abandoned places.

I donít have any kind of equipment right now to measure anything except the glow on the front. I wonder also if the Americans have also used luminous paint on their BC-348ís like Russia did..

I have the radio currently in another location because it was needed to get new grease for the dynamotor. So as itís still there where I bought it a few years back, Iím just wondering if I should just pick it up and bring it back home or maybe leave it there for a swap trade or something.

Any tips and other info is highly appreciated! I still wonder if I have some particles inside my body. If so, any way to detect it easily or is it just not much to worry about? The owner who sold me the radio, and now has repaired it, does this work for over 58 years. And has no health problems at all. Which makes me wonder. He has so many surplus radios and alike. Also aircraft panels and radio direction meters which he repaired and all have the original luminous glow. Some fainted out, and others sometimes slightly glow.

I just want to be save and not being continuously worrying about being in a bad toxic situation.

Offline redhat

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Re: Question about radiation.
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2019, 0903 UTC »
Most likely radium or strontium.  Tritium paint would be quite the feat, it only exists in a gas state.  I have some tritium thingies on my backpack.  I love the way they glow in the dark....for the last decade and still going.

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Offline Telegrapher

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Re: Question about radiation.
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2019, 1001 UTC »
From what I gather Tritium seems less harmful than Radium. And I think itís likely Radium paint as it was very popular back then. Even though the paint seems decaying a lot and almost isnít glowing anymore, it still is radioactive and it glows when I shine UV light on it for like 10 minutes max on the thickest parts (the switches have a thick dot on top that seems to have to most glow still present to this day.)

Even though itís a nice piece of history, I want my safety to be first always. So Iím thinking about swap trading it for a different radio that isnít painted with this stuff (I hope he want to accept the deal) so I donít have to worry any longer about being contaminated with this stuff. Yet I will really miss this beautiful piece because of my connection with it. It gives me a sad feeling to think about getting rid of it still. I was so proud of having this radio as my first tube radio and historical piece of the war. Especially since itís from the Russians where my interest in radio began because of the discovery of the Buzzer when I was young. Still hard to find the right choice. Iím just struggling with two thoughts: Get rid of it to be safe and sound, and the second thought: Keep this beauty as itís tour first piece of your collection. And itís all original without any modification. The inside of the radio looks still brand new.

I hope to find more tips from experienced collectors here. Is the risk really that big of having a luminous painted piece of history in my little room where I sleep and live all day? Or shall I get rid of it before flakes of Radium fall on my other big radios and alike till almost every corner and vintage piece in the room has some dust on it somewhere..? It isnít covered with any glass or protective housing. I can touch the paint directly with my hands. And if it falls off, it will be likely everywhere when I walk by to get to my bed as it stands right next to it. I have no place to store it otherwise. All I have is a little apartment with only one room to keep all things together...

Offline ChrisSmolinski

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Re: Question about radiation.
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2019, 1320 UTC »
I'd strongly consider getting or borrowing a radiation detector / survey meter, which will let you see how radioactive it is, and whether or not other parts of the shack are getting contaminated.  You can probably find something on eBay. Just make sure it reads alpha, beta, and gamma.
Chris Smolinski
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Offline Telegrapher

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Re: Question about radiation.
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2019, 1528 UTC »
Thanks for the information, I highly appreciate it. Currently most radiation detection devices are above my budget at the moment. If I had the money I would bought one that would do the job. I think I just try for swapping it for a different radio I like to get. If the owner doesnít want it back I will probably place the device in a corner of my room far away from everything I walk across. But due to limited space itís alnost impossible to find a safe spot to store it. I surely will buy a Geiger counter that detects all later when I have the money for it just in case so I can check the whole room I live in if there are any suspicious detections around. My room is not ventilated, always dusty very quick. And all I have is a bed and the shack next to it due to lack of space. All is in a single room with almost no areas to walk around as itís so small here..

The only thing I noticed lately is that my fingers and other body parts are feeling a little weird. Not continuously but sometimes when working with small parts itís easy to feel my fingers cramp for a while and like unable to move them for a minute or so.

Offline Josh

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Re: Question about radiation.
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2019, 1816 UTC »
If the radium-painted portions are exposed to contact, as in you can touch them, you might want to consider coating them in some clear coat to seal the area and to reduce flaking. By now, the phosphorus is severely decayed by the radium and will flake easily, you do not want to eat or inhale these particles, hence why I say coat the painted surfaces. Just to be safe, I'd always wash hands after using this radio, and consider relegating it to storage for use in ww3.
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Offline Telegrapher

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Re: Question about radiation.
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2019, 1826 UTC »
Yeah this is a very risky case. And I still wonder if I have some of this stuff ingested or something. Thatís what keeps me in panic mode all the time when I think about it. I think Iíll be better off with hopefully being able to swap it for a non radioactive device that still looks nice.

Hereís a picture I took long time ago. Just posted for examination. The paint looks white and a little brown. Also the knobs are very brown while the arrows are perfectly white. In the dark the glow stops very quickly after turning off the lights in my room. Only the switches and some dials keep glowing low green ish for about 10 minutes max.

Thanks for the comment, I really need as much info as I can get before I decide to take the radio back home leaving me in a very big risk. So I wonder if someone can figure out the paint of it. Itís the only picture I have left and I canít take a sharper one as the radio isnít here at the moment.

Any further details are highly appreciated!

https://imgur.com/a/NcTfQyH

Kind regards.