Interesting Recent Study on Radium in Wristwatches

Discussion in 'Wrist Watches' started by Noel Poirier, Oct 11, 2018.

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  1. Noel Poirier

    Noel Poirier Registered User
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    There was a new study published this summer by the University of Northhampton on the effects of radium in antique watches that might be of interest to folks here...here's a couple of links:

    WWII military watches ‘potentially pose serious cancer risk’ | University of Northampton

    Recommended Reading: New Report Shows Radium Dials Might Pose Serious Danger

    As someone who has worked with a large collection of watches (and likes to have my own little collection) it's an interesting topic to consider.
     
  2. roughbarked

    roughbarked Registered User

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    I'm simply going to add, That if you were a smoker, you'd be way ahead.
     
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  3. musicguy

    musicguy Registered User
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    Noel,
    Thanks for sharing that, it's very interesting(and thought provoking )


    Rob
     
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  4. Adam Harris

    Adam Harris Registered User
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    Hi Noel
    Nice to see you on the boards.
    Not sure if there is anything new in this report.
    We always knew and took precautions with Radium dials.

    I always recommend never touching a radium dial, wash hands afterwards and NEVER take expose the dial (service it) when there are children in the room.

    You will remember our "Radium" display at the museum was both tested, a graph showin the radiation level and a warning that pregnant mothers should not stay at this display.

    Even if Radium dial does not glow, the Radium having a half life of 1500 years is highly radioactive, its the zinc that lost it glow!

    No one in WWI died of radium from the watches worn, and no shrapnel guard ever protected the glass.

    Regards
    Adam
     
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  5. PJQL

    PJQL Registered User
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    Hello Noel,

    Nice to see that you are still ultra active! (but not radioactive that is!) These are interesting articles, and throw up very important issues which are so relevant
    especially to novices and inexperienced collectors.

    You may recall that I made a very brief stop at the museum back in 2013 (my profile picture is from that visit), when you very kindly opened the doors
    to my family and I as we were en route to Washington. It was an all too brief encounter but made so enjoyable by your generous hospitality...for which I will always be very grateful.

    I hope to visit again at some stage in the future....but next time for at least a full day, not just an hour!

    Best regards to you and all your staff,

    Piers
     
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  6. Les harland

    Les harland Registered User

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    It makes me think twice about wearing a pocket watch with a luminous dial in my trouser pocket
     
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  7. Kevin W.

    Kevin W. Registered User
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    I would be more worried about not getting hit by a car crossing the street, just my opinion.:)
     
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  8. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User
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    They haven't identified the gamma as a concern, just the radon gas.

    The organisation that advises schools on health & safety, including radiation, has a radium wrist watch in its artefact collection. It was donated by a retiring physics specialist who had it on his wrist for most of his working life and used it for demonstrations during courses on safety in using radioactive sources. Possibly the only example of an employee giving a gold watch to their employer on retirement.
     
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  9. Noel Poirier

    Noel Poirier Registered User
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    Piers,

    I remember your visit well and I am glad that we were able to accommodate your brief visit. While I am no longer at the NAWCC Museum, I intend to be an active NAWCC Member. I will certainly pass along your regards to the staff as I am in regular communication with many of them. They are a wonderful and talented group of individuals and it was an honor to work with them.

    Take care!
     
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  10. PJQL

    PJQL Registered User
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    Thank you Noel......best of luck, and hope to see you on the MB in the future.

    Regards

    Piers
     
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  11. Hilts

    Hilts Registered User

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    Afternoon All and hello! This is my first time posting here (long time lurker).

    The whole radium and watches topic is rather interesting and something that I have only picked up on recently. I picked up a radiation detector after reading David Boettcher's article on his website - it's rather surprising how many watches in my collection have radium in the lume - civillian and military. The main reason for my purchase is so that I can check up on watches before opening them up if they require repair.

    One of the slightly worrying things is the amount of movements/dials that may have been handled over the years without this realisation (uncased movements sold on ebay and bundled in bags for example) - behind an (intact) crystal I'm not worried so much, especially if the watch is worn for a limited period and exposure isn't for a lengthy period of time).

    I think, for Joe Bloggs wearing an intact military time piece (that uses radium) for a few days a week, it shouldn't be something to worry about - it's more for those of us who have direct contact with the dials themselves and exposed to potential rogue flakes of paint etc.
     
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  12. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User
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    It's always more of a risk for the makers and repairers than the wearers. However good ventilation deals with the gas and good housekeeping deals with the rest.

    We generate radon gas at school from thoriated gas mantles to use for decay experiments by students.
     
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