I have a question about radioactivity?

I recently bought a radiation detector a k a geiger counter. I used it on an old army compass that I have and it read 5000 counts per minute. Where does one get rid of radioactive items such as this, and do I need to? If you step back from it one foot, it only reads the background radiation. I'm a little alarmed that it read so high.

5 Answers

  • 1 month ago

    Does the pointer glow in the dark? if it does it has a radium dial and pointers. your garbage disposal company will know what to do with it.

  • 1 month ago

    I suspect you have one of the many scam "geiger counters" from ebay.

    They typically detect radio signals, magnetism & just about anything _except_ nuclear / ionising radiation, that a genuine Geiger counter does.

     Anything genuinely radioactive and reading 5000 a minute close in would still give quite a high reading from a foot away, not zero!

    Try it close to a loudspeaker or something you know is magnetic, I suspect it will indicate on that as well.

    This is a real geiger counter, for reference. It's about 50 - 60 years old but still works fine and I have some samples such as a radium dial & know exactly how a geiger counter responds to such things. The responses you describe do not fit at all, for a real one.

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  • 1 month ago

    You may have an army compass that has real radium in the dial. You certainly don't want to wear it around your neck. You don't need to be concerned with it as long as it isn't touching your body you won't get a burn from it.

    Some of the old radium watches will actually burn you if you wear them on your wrist

  • 1 month ago

    Radium dials are watch, clock and other instrument dials painted with radioluminescent paint containing radium-226. Radium dial production peaked in the first decade of the 20th century as radiation poisoning was then unknown; subsequently, radium dials have largely been replaced by phosphorescent- or occasionally tritium-based light sources.

    Although old radium dials may no longer produce light, this is frequently due to the breakdown of the crystal structure of zinc sulfide rather than the radioactive decay of the radium, which has a half-life of about 1600 years, so even very old radium dials remain radioactive. Radium paint can be ingested by inhaling flaking paint particles. The alpha particles emitted by the radium, which is taken up in bone, will kill off surrounding bone tissue, resulting in a condition loosely referred to as radium jaw. Inhaled or ingested particles may deposit a high local dose with a risk of lung or gastrointestinal cancer due to the radiation dose. The risks are hard to quantify due to the variable levels of radium in the paint and the quantity ingested or inhaled. Care should be taken in handling these materials, especially where the paint is damaged.

    Care should be taken to prevent the inhalation or ingestion of flakes or dust which may contain radioactive materials. Radium dials have been shown to have dose rates near the face of in excess of 10 µSv / hr, which would deliver a dose equivalent to one days background exposure in around 20 minutes. This dose rate probably only represents the gamma emission, as the alpha emission will be stopped by the lacquer or case; hence, the dose rate following ingestion or inhalation of the dust could be much higher

    Source(s): wikipedia
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  • 1 month ago

    One, it's a Geiger–Muller counter.  Hans Geiger was a professor at the University of Erlangen, Germany.  (Muller was the other guy).

    I used to live about 15 miles from Erlangen.

    The radioactivity reading you're getting is coming from the radium (paint infused) on the arrow.

    There's no need to get rid of it.  I used them for years.  I've never heard of anyone catching cancer from them.

    When I used to calculate radioactive fallout the normal level a soldier could absorb was 50 rads per day for X days.  That's about all I can say about the subject.

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