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Scintillation Detection

Posted by Tom Henderson  
Ralph Bottrill August 13, 2011 08:41AM
I quite agree with most of what you say - the world is radioactive, even our bodies are radioactive, its not a problem, but as Jolyon and others have pointed out, we can overdo it. I had the Health Department carefully check all our radioactive minerals and ore samples in our Geological Survey collection, and most were not a significant problem at all, except for one large uraninite. Management wanted them disposed of but I rebelled and got them put in a safe container out of reach of everyone. But we have a responsibilty to staff and visitors to take precautions to alleviate any dust or radon issue, if for no other reason that is if someone gets cancer they usually look for someone to blame, and if they see radioactive samples about, we are in the firing line. Most people can get very concerned about these and cannot be convinced they are harmless, so its best just to keep quiet and moderate any risk AFAP. And politely accepting their viewpoint and making conciliatory gestures usually works better than telling such people they are stupid.

gord major August 14, 2011 03:49PM
Nothing is new under the sun

Wikipedia Radon

Listed was a Lucas counter which is an updated spintharscope

It would appear that you should check your TV screen
Mineralogical Research Company August 16, 2011 02:39AM

I am afraid that you are misquoting my previous posts on this topic. Nowhere have I said that the risks of ionization radiation are too great and so owning radioactive minerals is a real peril. In fact, if you read carefully, you will see that my contention is that NORM, when handled and stored properly, poses very little or no health risk. You can purchase rat poison, which I'm sure that you will agree can be dangerous if not handled properly. Would you condone selling it to anyone, even minors, without providing some sort of information as to how it is potentially dangerous and how to handle it safely? I hope not. I have posted basic radiological safety information, on our website, with regard to safely owning and handling radioactive minerals, but feel that is not enough, hence the waiver. Consider that we have had numerous inquiries from school teachers and parents who want to purchase specimens for educational purposes. We have actually had parents try to purchase specimens for their “eight year old child's rock collection”. And, teachers who want to purchase specimens to "pass around in class" require some education, in my opinion. Aside from the remote possibility of liability issues, the aforementioned are the reasons that we have adopted a waiver policy for the purchase of NORM. It is a way of informing customers that this is a potentially hazardous material and that they should read the material that we provide and to be aware of what they are purchasing, before placing an order.

I will not post to this discussion any further, as misquotes, circular arguments and unkind comments are not pleasant, but more importantly they are not of any intellectual value. Perhaps we will form a better rapport in some future discussions of other subjects.

Trevor Dart September 18, 2011 06:18AM
Hello. I have just read through this thread and I thought that I would add my bit. I am one of those science teachers that Gene has been talking about who wants to show students what a radioactive sample looks like and how it effects a Geiger counter. I have a number of radioactive samples in my collection including Torbernite from Arkaroola, Davidite from Olary region (with some magnificent davidite crystals from Billeroo - see my mindat article for pictures) and a pitchblende from the Zinc Mine here at Broken Hill. I have taken a Geiger counter into my mineral room and they do not effect it until I get really close to each sample. When I take them to the school I make sure that all students follow simple safety procedures, as I do the risk assessment first and explain the hazards to the kids. I have also sold a number of the davidites on ebay and when I have posted them off I included safety instructions as follows - mostly for the benefit of paranoid customs officers

"Safety Precautions When Handling This Material

Davidite is a complex Iron, titanium, uranium oxide. This mineral is classed as an unrefined ore of uranium and is mildly radioactive. It is an alpha particle emitter – ie: the low level of radiation is easily blocked by a multilayered cardboard wrapping. While this is a mineral / rock sample that contains a small amount of uranium in its chemical makeup.
1. It WILL NOT cause a nuclear explosion, heavily contaminate you, give off excess quantities of radiation, render you sterile or any other myth associated with purified uranium.
2. It was formed around 1.8 billion years ago inside a natural rock – granite and has been eroded out over the years to produce these loose crystals.
3. IT IS NOT HAZARDOUS while left in its natural state.

Handling and Safety: Please dispose of the wrapping material in the usual manner – do not reuse or recycle. Do not ingest any part of the sample. Do not inhale sample in powdered form. When handling the sample, wash hands when finished especially prior to eating.
Storage: Allow adequate ventilation. This material has the potential to produce small amounts of radon gas, which when kept in an enclosed space may build up to hazardous levels."

As long as you know the correct handling and storage of these samples then there is no real hazard in keeping them in your collection. I would also appreciate any suggestions for ways to improve my safety instructions.
Anonymous User September 18, 2011 08:19AM
Dear Trevor;

Bravo. good comments and good advice.
Bart Cannon September 18, 2011 10:33AM
I don't know how this thread became so mature without me blabbering on since this subject is dear to my lungs.

First off. The instrument you are all trying to think of is the SPINTHAROSCOPE. It was a small cardboard tube with a little mesh screen and a thin scintillator. After adjusting your eyes to the dark, you looked through the open end and could see swirling scintillations. It was included with every Gilbert Chemistry set back in about 1962. When they also included the stuff needed to make gunpowder in their chemical collection.

Human health studies are often nonsense since there is no way to create a control or to characterize extraneous life circumstances.

Let's start with me. I'm 61 years old. I've been told many time that I look pretty good for my age, and I have no aches or pains other than my left ankle which has stainless steel screws in it from an aborted collecting trip. But it's a rare day when I notice a little stiffness there.

I've worked in open pit and underground uranium mines for each summer of my college life, and then later when I made the mistake of becoming a mineral field collector. I know Moab. I even swam in the the arsenic / uranium soup in the pit at the White King Uranium Mine near Lakeview, Oregon. That's a superfund site. But it sure is pretty.

When it comes to uranium minerals...... my basement is SUPER HOT! though it's every so slightly drafty.

And I work in my basement from noon until 7 AM each day of the calendar.

I think I should be dead from radon exposure. But here I am. Hormesis anyone?

Lead and uranium have about equal toxicity when delivered to the digestive system. The difference would seem to be that uranium and its spawn radon damage the lungs. More than lead? Can anyone tell me?

Does anyone remember Dirk Pearson ? He and his wife claim that the secret to their vigor in old age is selenium.

I grind and polish umangite and klockmannite fairly often. They smell like dinner.

My main physical flaw is a slight belly which I attribute to vodka.

Winston Churchill drank two quartz, I mean quarts of vodka per day. I think he died at 84. Probably not of liver failure.

More likely heart attack, stroke, pneumonia, or one of the common cancers that will kill 95% of us.

I say life isn't worth living unless you can heft a Joachmitstal pitchblende in your palm.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/18/2011 11:44PM by Bart Cannon.
Frank de Wit September 18, 2011 03:11PM
Bart, I never met you, I don't know you personally, we never travelled together and survived eachother, but I feel love :) :)
Bart Cannon September 18, 2011 11:42PM

I always return a gesture of love.

I made a mistake in my post. It was the White King Uranium Mine above Lakeview in the pit of which I took a swim.

In summer of 1970 Western Nuclear owned the mine. We hapless field workers were tasked with taking samples from the pit water from the middle of the little lake using poly-bottles. The managers told us to rent a dingy. We all decided it would be easier to just send me out there with the poly-bottle and my swim suit.

At the time I thought it was part of the prospecting program. I had never heard of CERCLA or SUPERFUND. I don't think they even existed at that time. We owe it all to Richard Nixon. That surprises most people.

If it was 1970 you and I could go for a swim and then collect from the high grade pile North of the pit.

Now we would be arrested for such behavior..

The White King was a noted location for meta-heinrichite. Most of the stuff I found in the high grade was more likely trogerite. Sometimes in nice crystals in the rhyolite lithophsyea. Or however you spell it. Lets just say vacuoles.

cascaillou November 21, 2011 12:08AM
Hi all
Here's a link where I explained how to make a spinthariscope yourself:

If you're interested in radioactive minerals, this is definately fun.
Bart Cannon November 21, 2011 05:45AM
Is there record of Jolyon having any of his posts removed or re-directed ?

Jolyon knows he is not God. Just Imperial Wizard of Mindat.
James Zigras November 21, 2011 07:36AM
James Zigras November 21, 2011 07:39AM
LOL to Barts comments that is....
Jolyon & Katya Ralph November 21, 2011 09:40AM
Not sure what this has to do with this thread, Bart!

But there are many managers here who remove abusive messages, or messages from people who have been banned for abusive behaviour (such as 'Samuel' from Australia) -- it's not always me with my finger on the kill button.
Rock Currier November 21, 2011 12:55PM
You don't pull on superman's cape, you don't rip the mask off the old lone ranger and you don't fool around with Jolyon unless you are really pissed off. I know for a fact that on occasion he can see reason.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
James Zigras November 21, 2011 02:54PM
I am always really pissed off but then again that is why i refrain from writing my opinions on here. Im trying not to get kicked off of mindat again!
Bart Cannon November 21, 2011 04:20PM
* Jolyon,

Turns out I was responding to some old posts by "Anonymous User" in which he made references to you and God.

I didn't realize that his posts were from August.

They were at the bottom of the first page of the thread, and I got confused.

Sorry for wasting space inappropriately.

* And, Rock,

Do you still refer to yourself as "Chief Factotum" of Jewel Tunnel, and to your employees as "Toadies".

Don't mess with Bacteria Bart !!! He still has a memory !

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/21/2011 04:35PM by Bart Cannon.
James Zigras November 21, 2011 04:39PM
Good stuff Bart! HAHA
I believe Jewel Tunnel also has a rat living in the warehouse besides the toads

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/21/2011 04:43PM by James Zigras.
Tom Henderson November 21, 2011 09:01PM
I haven't returned to this thread in some time. Reminds me of a fellow I knew who, in the army, was marched thru ground zero. He said that stuff never hurt anybody! X( Project photo attached. Now I need to work on my photo skills! :S
open | download - PICT0001.JPG (287.2 KB)
Rock Currier November 23, 2011 03:12PM
We have no rats at Jewel Tunnel except for the occasional one that walks in on two legs. We do seem to have a number of little mice whose numbers wax and wane from time to time. A few months back I heard a sound near the telephone on my desk and looked up and there with his nose twitching and poking around the back of my phone and looking at me was a tiny baby mouse. Cute as can be. I didn't have the heart to try and kill it. One fell into my trash can under my desk and couldn't get out. I made a tiny mouse house in the trash can for him with some water and some cheese, but he soon died.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
Donald Peck November 23, 2011 03:37PM
Rock, mice around here know where it is warm in the winter. My wife and daughters don't speak to me if I kill them, so I use "Have-a-Heart" traps and deport them . . . at least a mile away!
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