[ RadSafe ] Radium history question - internal contamination

Stewart Farber SAFarber at optonline.net
Fri Oct 28 10:04:17 CDT 2011

Hello all,

Regarding Bjorn's comment about exhaling Rn-222 as a consequence of internal
deposition of Ra-226, it does not take a very high body burden of Ra-226 to
be able to measure Rn-222 in exhaled air. An excellent discussion of the
relationship established between internal deposition and exhaled radon is
found at:


Michael Stabin is noted in the above as the technical expert in this subject
and may be a good person to contact with any question you may have about
internal Ra-226 body burdens.

There is a seminal reference book about Ra-226:

"Radium in Humans - A Review of US Studies" by R.E. Rowland of Argonne
National Laboratory [ANL/ER-3], Sept. 1994, 233 pages. It was available 15
or so years ago from the US Dept. of Commerce, National Technical
Information Service, 703-497-4650.

This book has 100 pages of introductory information:
Historical Background, 
The Postwar Studies of Radium Cases, 
The Hazards of Internally Deposited Radium, 
Risk Estimates for Radium-Induced Malignancies,
and a listing of "Measured Radium Cases" summarizing 2,403 radium exposed
individuals for whom satisfactory measurements had been made by the end of

Cases are listed by ID number, sex, year of birth, year of last contact,
type of Ra exposure, year first exposed, exposure duration, Ra-226 body
burden, Ra-228/Ra-226 ratio, Intake Ra-226, Intake Ra-228, and dose from
Ra-226 and Ra-228. Sometimes knowing a person's sex and year of birth, and
such things as year first exposed and duration,  it is possible to narrow
down which "Case" someone might actually be.

Stewart Farber, MSPH
Farber Medical Solutions, LLC
email: SAFarber at optonline.net


-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu
[mailto:radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu] On Behalf Of Bjorn Cedervall
Sent: Friday, October 28, 2011 10:17 AM
To: RadSafers Forum
Subject: [ RadSafe ] Radium history question - internal contamination

Some 6-7 years ago someone said that one of the men (possibly with the last
name Wilson) at the radium production plant in Pennsylvania was so
contaminated that he was used as a standard for calibrations. Unfortunately
I cannot remember for sure who said this and I am not even sure that I got
the story correct. I have tried to google to get more substance to this but
been unsuccessful.
It is certainly clear that some people working with radium during the
approx. years 1910-1940 became heavily contaminated with radium and even
exhaled radon as a consequence of the radium burden (the dial painters are
probably the best known examples, see Claudia Clark's Radium Girls which is
great reading for anyone interested in that particular tragedy). On the
other hand I do not want to contribute to false information regarding the
man mentioned above (provided the character of the story is correct in the
first place).
Question: Does anyone of you know anything about the story around this man
so that I could read more and get a better grasp of the context? Here is one
link relating to Standard Chemical Company and Canonsburg, Pa:
One man who definitely became heavily contaminated was Sabin von Sochocky
who was contaminated enough to distort laboratory readings (he was the
originator of the luminous paint formula and one of the founders of U.S.
Radium, dead 1928) but that was a different story than the one I am asking
My personal (radio)activity,
Bjorn Cedervall
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