[ RadSafe ] Activity question

Jim Hardeman Jim_Hardeman at dnr.state.ga.us
Fri Dec 16 17:17:00 CST 2005

Lou *
70 Bq/g "used" to be the magic number under DOT Hazardous Materials regulations. Until 2003 (I think) "radioactive material" was defined under DOT regulations as anything exceeding 70 Bq/g (.002 microcurie per gram).
Current DOT radioactive materials regulations contain nuclide-specific exemption limits, some greater than 70 Bq/g and others less. One popular item on eBay is "radioactive marbles" containing uranium. My wife, who teaches physics labs at a local community college, bought some of these a few years back for a radioactivity lab ... and we routinely order old Fiesta-ware for show and tell items. Well, guess what? The exemption limit for natural uranium is 1 Bq/g, not 70 ... but in order to be considered "radioactive material" you also have to exceed the "Activity Limit for Exempt Consignment" ... in this case 1,000 Bq.
Per 49 CFR 173.403, "Radioactive material means any material containing radionuclides where both the activity concentration and the total activity in the 
consignment exceed the values specified in the table in Sec. 173.436 or values derived according to the instructions in Sec. 173.433." You can look up these references at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/cfr/retrieve.html
For the record, the "old" DOT exemption language in 49 CFR 173.403 used to read "Radioactive material means any material having a specific activity 
greater than 70 Bq per gram (0.002 microcurie per gram) (see definition of "specific activity'')."
Jim Hardeman, Manager
Environmental Radiation Program
Environmental Protection Division
Georgia Department of Natural Resources
4220 International Parkway, Suite 100
Atlanta, GA 30354
(404) 362-2675
Fax: (404) 362-2653
E-mail: Jim_Hardeman at dnr.state.ga.us

>>> <LNMolino at aol.com> 12/16/2005 17:07:35 >>>

recently eBay the online auction site has "banned radioactive" items from  
their site. In a recent letter to a person offering unprocessed ores on the site 
(a seemingly common practice) the following statement was made  by eBay.

"Please also remember that anything that has a specific activity greater  
than 70 Bq per gram (.002 microcurie per gram) is not permitted on eBay under  
any conditions."

So to that end I pose this question. Why the above "limit" what makes 70 Bq  
the "magic number" or rather might there be a "scientific basis for such a  


Louis N.  Molino, Sr., CET
LNMolino at aol.com
979-690-7559  (Office)
979-412-0890 (Cell Phone)
979-690-7562 (Office Fax)

"A  Texan with a Jersey Attitude"

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