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Thread: Radium

  1. #1
    Registered user. RJSoftware's Avatar
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    Default Radium

    The more I think about it. The worse it gets.

    I find now, that the old west clock alarms and others have radium.

    I thought this issue was restricted to military watches and there was some movement (after Radium girls) to recall those watches.

    Now think about this.

    What is the most common place to work on your clocks and/or watches?

    It's the kitchen table.

    Reading a thread that is currently in watch catagory. I see someone won a bunch of watch parts from ebay.

    After recieving them, he and his son (who was doing some study) borrow gieger counter from college. Long story short he finds bottom of bag with radium dust.

    Now, when I think about some of the things I have done, maybe some of the old alarm clocks (Westclock baby ben and others) are also radium dial.

    I did have the common sense to vaccume and wipe down the table. Not even sure why I did. I did not take the radium seriously. Now after reading up. This I find is no joke.

    What about future generations that might do repairs on these items?

    Is it our duty to dispose of these clocks/watches? I suppose the older these get the more apt the radium is to fall of the dial and the hands.

    How bout accidents? Some younger relative.

    Doesn't sound cool does it..?

    Is there a way to clean these up safe? Or should they just be destroyed?

    RJ
    The bitter the challenge, the juicy the conquest.

  2. #2
    Moderator leeinv66's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radium (RE: RJSoftware)

    Do you glow in the dark RJ? I know I don't and I grew up with Radium clocks and watches. Moreover, I have repaired hundreds of them over the years. Unless you are going to eat the stuff or lick your brush when you apply it (like the Radium girls did), it isn't going to cause you any problems in small amounts. If you really want to worry about something, the next time you are sitting in traffic, think about all the crap you are breathing in from those exhaust fumes. Now that is scary:o Just my two cents worth!
    Cheers
    Peter R Lee: AKA (Pee-Tah) from Australia

  3. #3
    Registered user. RJSoftware's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radium (RE: RJSoftware)

    See, the thing is, if something lays arround in your house at the point of where you eat/drink etc... Plus how responsible are we being for not taking care of the situation for future generations.

    I'm surprized that ebay allows these items to be sold.

    RJ
    The bitter the challenge, the juicy the conquest.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Radium (RE: RJSoftware)

    Of corse they had Radium--that's how you could see what time it was in the middle of the night without turning on the light. Or check your watch on a night excursion of whatever type.

    This topic has been beaten-- stomped--hashed and rehashed.

    If handled with care there is no reason for them to be destroyed.
    They have some decay factors over the years and the watch crystal/case or the clock glass/crystal/case also lessens the harmful factors in one's everyday life.

    When they must be handled--do so with care and use a thourough hand washing exercise after.

    As I said in the watch thread you referred to---don't lick them---sniff them--or otherwise mis-handle them and they will not cause serious problems.

    As I also replied in the same thread---you would be surprised just what in your home and/or environment---will set a geiger counter off.

    In the Radium girls story--they wet the tip of their brush in their mouth/lips with fresh radium paint on the brush.
    ****That is a whole different barrel of apples!****

    I certainly do not think ebay-antique sstores or flea markets are putting the world at risk.


    [edit=3818=1208521493][/edit]
    [edit=3818=1208521572][/edit]

  5. #5

    Default Re: Radium (RE: RJSoftware)

    Thank you Peter and Burnz. Three cheers for common sense!

    JTD

  6. #6
    Registered user. RJSoftware's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radium (RE: RJSoftware)

    Yeah I suppose.

    It's just that the stuff remains so potentially hazardous for such a long long period of time.

    I can see some guy in distant future taking a stab at repairing one of these on his kitchen table. Does he know the hazard? Maybe he has no clue. ebay certainly has no awareness of them.

    Given a few decades more, eventually the dials will flake. Probably by then all sorts of radium dust will spill out everywhere. Not to forget about the airpborne particles.

    Not to mention all the dust that would flake off from repair actions. Cracking, spliting, little microscopic pieces flying everywhere.

    Maybe he missed cleaning up some of the dust (considering he thinks it's just a normal dial) and next thing you know the kid has it in his sandwich.

    See, this is really not improbable. Infact, I would dare say highly likely that given the length of time something like this can occur.

    Then saving that special radium watch/clock might cost the life of one of your descendants.

    What if they found out some time after the death. Wonder what they would think of "Grandpa" and his precious clocks/watches.

    This is like the guy who keeps poisonous pet snakes at his house for entertainment. One day he comes home finds one of his kids dead on the floor.

    "I guess he just couldn't see it coming".

    I think that the radium was really a super super bad idea. Perhaps doing horology a great dis-service.

    Sure other things may have radiation, but it's the dust that has tendency to get everywhere and just hang arround a long long time.

    The next step I'm going to take is to see if any of the hardware stores have radiation detection kits.

    Sorry if this subject has been done to death. But, I never realized the potential.

    Now I have to consider what to toss out. And how to destroy it.
    RJ
    [edit=2265=1208540634][/edit]
    The bitter the challenge, the juicy the conquest.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Radium (RE: RJSoftware)

    RJ,
    Make a list of what you are going to throw out. If I need something I will pay the postage and you can send it to me.

    There has been many watch/clock maker that lived to a nice ripe old age (I have know quite a few). I would say the vast majority died of natural causes. Never heard of a repairman death because he was lit up with radium.

    Of course the radium girls story is a complete different thing and very hazerdous from their own doing --albeit--they did not know any better at the time.

    I think it is time to stress the proper handling of older hands/etc. with radium and at the same time--disconnect the panic button!

  8. #8
    Registered user. RJSoftware's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radium (RE: RJSoftware)

    If I find they are hazardous, then they are trash. I could care less if they have any value at all...!

    Health first. Above all else.

    RJ
    The bitter the challenge, the juicy the conquest.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Radium (RE: RJSoftware)

    RJ,
    Correct me if Iam wrong.
    As I recall--you are not into watches that much.
    You may have an older alarm clock or two.

    Other than that--it seems the type clocks you are interested in would not be a problem. I wouldn't think you would have that much radium painted parts/hands around.

    As apoint of interest--you say value or not--they are trash. If you are going to be that hard core about it--then you cannot simply throw them in the trash. You will need to contact the proper agency and follow their guidelines for disposal.

    Not that that agency will necessarily know that much about watch and clock hands.

    Ahhhh--the plot thickens.
    [edit=3818=1208542978][/edit]

  10. #10

    Default Re: Radium (RE: RJSoftware)

    Hey RJ, I keep my radium dials and hands with my mercury-filled pendulums.

    The "special" number of this post for me just beckoned this kind of response.
    [edit=3404=1208543707][/edit]
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails space suit.jpg  
    -------Tony-------
    Arizona Clock Repair

  11. #11
    Registered user. RJSoftware's Avatar
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    Default Re: Radium (RE: RJSoftware)

    Good point.

    RJ
    The bitter the challenge, the juicy the conquest.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Radium (RE: RJSoftware)

    RJ...I was an Level II industrial radiographger for 25 years, so I think I know a little bit about the subject. You probably get more radiation exposure in one week in sunny California, than you would in a lifetime of working on radium dialed alarm clocks.

    The women who worked on these things handled massive amounts on a daily basis. It sure didn't help when they painted their teeth and faces. I once took an alarm with a radium dial to work. I put a survey meter close to the face and couldn't even get a reading more than a few inches back.

    If it still concerns you, wear gloves and lay the dial on paper towles. When you though, just toss them out.

    Chris
    "For one who has not lived even a single lifetime, you're a wise man, Van Helsing."

  13. #13

    Default Re: Radium (RE: RJSoftware)

    Arjay, if you start calling the hazmat people to deal with your clock dials, you will be categorized as a Kook. The level of radiation you'll get from a radium-painted dial is less than you get from an ordinary day of walking around. The Radium Girls ate the stuff, in significant quantities, every working day. Don't eat your clocks, and you'll be okay.

    bangster
    1. Check out the Repair Hints & How-To's forum. You may find your answer there.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Radium (RE: RJSoftware)

    Quote Originally Posted by bangster
    Arjay, if you start calling the hazmat people to deal with your clock dials, you will be categorized as a Kook. The level of radiation you'll get from a radium-painted dial is less than you get from an ordinary day of walking around. The Radium Girls ate the stuff, in significant quantities, every working day. Don't eat your clocks, and you'll be okay.

    bangster
    LOL....
    "For one who has not lived even a single lifetime, you're a wise man, Van Helsing."

  15. #15

    Default Re: Radium (RE: RJSoftware)

    Quote Originally Posted by clocks4u
    Quote Originally Posted by bangster
    Arjay, if you start calling the hazmat people to deal with your clock dials, you will be categorized as a Kook. The level of radiation you'll get from a radium-painted dial is less than you get from an ordinary day of walking around. The Radium Girls ate the stuff, in significant quantities, every working day. Don't eat your clocks, and you'll be okay.

    bangster
    LOL....
    Or worse...they might show up with a bulldozer and a back-hoe. Then, feeling like a kook won't be the worst of the feelings, if any of those crazy stories of overreaction about the mercury in broken thermometers is accurate.:|
    [edit=3404=1208555214][/edit]
    -------Tony-------
    Arizona Clock Repair

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