[ RadSafe ] Radium history question - Hazards from radium A to Z !

parthasarathy k s ksparth at yahoo.co.uk
Sat Oct 29 11:49:43 CDT 2011

Dear Bjorn,

An excellent reference on radium hazrds control is the following:


This is by Dr Villforth. One of the references in it by J E Morgan writes about the internal gas pressure in radium/tubes/needles. There was also a booklet published by him. It contained lot more details

I have spent lot of time searching for radium tubes/needles lost from hospitals. Often they end up in muinicipal waste grounds.Over 40 years ago, we had one instance in which the dead body of a patient was released from a hospital. She had about 50 mg of radium in five Pt-Ir tubes. We recovered them from a cremation ground. All except one source remained intact. One tube was leaky. It must have been leaky already. These tubes were surprisingly sturdy.

In another instance, on instruction from a doctor an electrician cut an applicator with an electric saw to recover the radium tubes stuck in them. The recovery operation and radium decontamination was very expensive. We transported a truck full of contaminated material for safe disposal.

My group measured radium (.06 microgram) retained by the electrician by radon- in- breath method and by using a whole body radioactivity monitor.

With best regards

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
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
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