[ RadSafe ] 20 uCi Radium Check Sources

parthasarathy k s ksparth at yahoo.co.uk
Fri Aug 18 06:59:01 CDT 2006

Dear Mr. Levine,

Sealed sources of radium is known to deveolop leak.One of the reasons in the case of medical sources is the gradual build up of helium  at an etimated rate of 0.09 atmosphere per  mg annually. In sources made several decades ago, the pressure due to hydrogen and ogygen released due to dissociation water present in hygroscopic salts of radium  may increase to unbelievably high values.In a source of a few tens of microcuries the pressure build up  may be negligible. 

In view of the known hazards from leaky radium radium has been with drawn from hospitals.In India the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board directed the replacement of radium with safer substitutes. Indian hospitals had about 20grams of radium. The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre collected them and disposed them of safely.

Disposal of alpha particle emitting long lived radioactive sources is expensive. Some one who sought help from an agency in UK was asked to pay a few hundred pounds to dispose of an Am-241 source of a few tens of microcurie!

In view of the problems associated with radium sources, I will not envy any one having one of them in their custody! I just now wrote a news paper article on the story of radium in India. You may access it at the following URL if you so desire


  K.S.Parthasarathy Ph.D
  (Formerly, Secretary, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, India)
  Raja Ramanna Fellow
  Strategic Planning Group
  Board of Research in Nuclear Sciences
  Department of Atomic Energy
  GN 18, Vikram Sarabhai Bhavan
  Mumbai 400094, INDIA
  91+22 25555327 (O)
  91+22 2 5486081(O)
  91+22 2 7706048(R)
  9869016206 ( Mobile)

----- Original Message ----
From: Syd H. Levine <syd.levine at mindspring.com>
To: radsafe at radlab.nl
Sent: Friday, 18 August, 2006 3:43:55 PM
Subject: [ RadSafe ] 20 uCi Radium Check Sources

I have an opportunity to acquire two 20 microcurie Radium API traceable 
calibration sources, but I am concerned about the Radium content.  Can some 
of you experts educate me on why a small sealed Radium source is such a big 
deal?  I am told there are regulatory concerns, and I am told that disposing 
of these puny little 20 microcurie sources could cost many thousands of 
dollars.  I am also told that the Radon produced inside the source capsule 
could cause leakage; is there any truth to this last concern.

Thanks in advance for any information you may be able to offer.

Syd H. Levine
AnaLog Services, Inc.
Phone:  (270) 276-5671
Telefax:  (270) 276-5588
E-mail:  analog at logwell.com
Web URL:  www.logwell.com

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