[ RadSafe ] some radium history and Radium in India

parthasarathy k s ksparth at yahoo.co.uk
Fri Oct 28 11:49:42 CDT 2011

Dear Bjorn,

In 2006, I wrote a popular science article in the Science & Technology section of a popular English language daily in India. You can access it at:

There are interesting snippets about the way radium was handled in the early years. One of the assistants Madame Curie had significant amount of radium burden so that the electroscope used to measure activity collapsed whenever he approached it!. I have also read that Curie's grave could be identified by an ordinary Geiger Mueller counter because of her body burden.

The first stock of radium tubes and needles was imported into India in 1930. We had a total inventory of about 16 gms in 65 institutions. I have developed a mailed detector method to identify leaky sources as the hospitals who own them did not have even simple Geiger Mueller Counters. These are solid state track detectors (foils of cellulose nitrate) which are sensitive alpha particles.

AS large numbers of the radium tubes aand needles were leaky we replaced them with safer substitutes. Bhabha Atomic Research Centre assisted the hospitals to dispose of the sources safely


From: Bjorn Cedervall <bcradsafers at hotmail.com>
To: RadSafers Forum <radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu>
Sent: Friday, 28 October 2011, 21:24
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] Radium history question - internal contamination

The order of magnitude here is one microgram (+/- a factor of 10) in the human body.
Martland, one of the physicians who examined the dial painters, said around 1925-30 that ten micrograms of radium is a lethal dose.
From around 1930 and on he said that no level of radium should be accepted in the human body. This contrasted the healing folks (some injected up to milligram quantities into "patients", others said that radium in the skeleton was like having a built-in spa).
Around 1941 one maximum permissible level (the context may have been recommendations from the Nat. Bureau of Standards in the U.S.) was 37 Bq/m3 in expired air (converted from Ci). After reading Clark's book I think that most people who have some science background would see the order of 0.1-0.5 micrograms of radium deposited in the body as a more directly life threatening situation.

Thank you Stewart for the suggested readings. Another source is a review article published in Radiation Research around 1998.

My personal initiative and (radio)activity,

Bjorn Cedervall

> From: SAFarber at optonline.net
> Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] Radium history question - internal contamination
> 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:
> http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ocas/pdfs/tibs/or-t25-r0.pdf
You are currently subscribed to the RadSafe mailing list

Before posting a message to RadSafe be sure to have read and understood the RadSafe rules. These can be found at: http://health.phys.iit.edu/radsaferules.html

For information on how to subscribe or unsubscribe and other settings visit: http://health.phys.iit.edu

More information about the RadSafe mailing list