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WhiskeyGirl
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« on: July 11, 2008, 06:09:21 PM »

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10 Radioactive Products That People Actually Used
July 11, 2008

Nuclear power has long been touted as a utopian technology, ushering in an era of work-free, unlimited energy supply and correspondingly longer and healthier lives. Today it is more well-known for its dangers, which include the atom bomb and radiation poisoning . Yet for 40 years, Radium was a popular tonic added to everything from tea to lipstick. We’ve decided to explore some of the strangest radioactive products in history and the effects they might have had on those that used them.

Tho-Radia Face Cream
Promising instant curative and beautifying effects, Tho-Radia gained wide popularity in France during the early 1930’s as a range of beauty products and perfumes. The face cream was especially popular and contained of 0.5g thorium chloride and 0.25mg radium bromide per 100g. It was even advertised as a creation of ‘Dr. Alfred Curie’ although he was not a member of the Curie family and probably never existed.

Radium Watch Dials
In the early 1900’s luminescent clock and watch faces featured digits painted using paint Radium paint, the most common version being Undark, created by the United States Radium Corporation. Young women painters of the dials used to point their brushes by licking the bristles, a practice that resulted in severe radium ingestion, eventually causing facial bone disintegration and other dental problems.

Radium Bread
Radium water from Joachimstal was used in the production of loaves manufactured by the Hippman-Blach bakery in what is now the Czech Republic. Although the production technique would have led to an increase in radium levels, the amount present in the bread was not dangerous.

The Scrotal Radiendocrinator
The Radiendocrinator was intended to be placed over the endocrine glands to invigorate sexual virility and consisted of seven radium soaked pieces of paper, about the size and shape of a credit card, covered with a thin piece of clear plastic and two gold-wire screens. Men were advised to place the instrument under the scrotum at night like an ‘athletic strap’. The inventor of the Radiendocrinator (and Radithor), William J. Bailey, had so much faith in his products he claimed not only that he regularly used them, but that he had drunk more radium water than any living man - he died in 1949 of bladder cancer.

Radium Chocolate
Radium Chocolate manufactured by Burk & Braun was sold in Germany from 1931 to 1936, advertised for its powers of rejuvenation.

Radium Suppositories
These radioactive suppositories promised to make ‘weak discouraged men’ literally ‘bubble over with joyous vitality’ and were produced by the Home Products Company of Denver, Colorado. Soluble radium was added to a cocoa butter base in the form of a suppository and was introduced into the rectum in order to stimulate “the weakened organs that needed its vitalizing aid’. They were even shipped in plain packaging for confidentiality.

Radioactive Toy Set
The Atomic Energy Lab first went on sale in 1951 and featured low levels of genuine radioactive material for children to experiment with. It remained on sale until the late 1970’s and although the materials were labeled as ‘safe’ you wouldn’t find many parents today willing to let their kids play with uranium ore.

Radioactive Drinking Water
Ceramic jars that added radon to drinking water were popular during the early part of the 20th century. Revigator advertised itself as ‘nature’s way to health’ and its ores gave off millions of tiny rays of radiation that penetrated the water, creating ‘healthful radioactive water’.

Perpetual Sunshine
Manufactured from 1918 to 1928 by the Bailey Radium Laboratories, Radithor was a well-known patent tonic that consisted of triple distilled water containing at a least one microcurie of Radium 226 and 228 isotopes. Said to cure stomach cancer, mental illness and restore sexual vigor and vitality, it was even advertised as ‘Perpetual Sunshine’ until it gained notoriety when Eben Byers, an American industrialist, drank a bottle a day for four year and consequently died in excruciating pain as cancer of the jaw caused his facial bones to disintegrate.

Radium Toothpaste
Doramad radioactive toothpaste was produced during World War II by Auergesellschaft of Berlin, a company founded by the inventor of the gas lantern mantle, Carl Auer von Welsbach. On the back of the tube it was stated that, ‘radioactive radiation increases the defenses of teeth and gums… cells are loaded with new life energy, the destroying effect of bacteria is hindered… it gently polishes the dental enamel and turns it white and shiny.’

see pictures and read more here -
http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/offbeat-news/10-radioactive-products-that-people-actually-used/1388

I'll be checking garage sales for this stuff...
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MuffyBee
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« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2008, 09:40:20 AM »

Granite counter tops have become all the rage.  Even I have them.  Did you know they can be radioactive?!

http://consumerist.com/5028691/are-your-beautiful-granite-countertops-full-of-uranium-maybe
A routine radon test revealed a surprise in Lynn Sugarman's kitchen a few years ago. Usually, radon is found in your basement ( underground deposits of uranium decay and produce the gas) — but when the radon specialist inspected Dr. Sugarman's house —he found radon in her kitchen.

From the New York Times:

    “He went from room to room,” said Dr. Sugarman, a pediatrician. But he stopped in his tracks in the kitchen, which had richly grained cream, brown and burgundy granite countertops. His Geiger counter indicated that the granite was emitting radiation at levels 10 times higher than those he had measured elsewhere in the house.

Granite, even the stuff that is commonly used in kitchen countertops, can contain uranium or other radioactive elements. The granite in Dr. Sugarman's kitchen was especially "hot."

    The E.P.A. recommends taking action if radon gas levels in the home exceeds 4 picocuries per liter of air (a measure of radioactive emission); about the same risk for cancer as smoking a half a pack of cigarettes per day. In Dr. Sugarman’s kitchen, the readings were 100 picocuries per liter. In her basement, where radon readings are expected to be higher because the gas usually seeps into homes from decaying uranium underground, the readings were 6 picocuries per liter.
    ...
    “It’s not that all granite is dangerous,” said Stanley Liebert, the quality assurance director at CMT Laboratories in Clifton Park, N.Y., who took radiation measurements at Dr. Sugarman’s house. “But I’ve seen a few that might heat up your Cheerios a little.”

So what do you do if your suspect your granite is radioactive? Well, the NYT says that you can get some do it yourself radon kits from the Environmental Protection Agency, or your local hardware store. You could also choose to spend some money to have a professional come in. Expect to spend $20-$30 for a do it yourself kit, and $100 to $300 to have your countertop tested by a professional.

And another link/article:

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/5908630.html
Be wary of granite that glows
Rice professor says countertops may be tainted with uranium
By ALLAN TURNER Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
July 25, 2008, 11:17PM
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Last August, Consumer Reports magazine — ever alert to stylish trends among its affluent readers — pinpointed the growing popularity of natural stone countertops, demand for which had increased 5 percent annually for the previous five years. But for Rice University physics professor W.J. Llope, the article's title, "Countertops: The Hottest Rocks," carried an unsettling irony.

Some granite countertops, he says, contain high levels of uranium, which, by generating gamma radiation and radon gas, can endanger human health.

"Most stones, in terms of radioactivity, are relatively quiet," Llope said. "But there are a couple I have found that are insanely hot."

Using a Rice University spectrometer, Llope has examined 55 stones, representing about 25 varieties of granite purchased from Houston-area dealers. Some, he said, could expose homeowners to 100 millirems of radiation — the annual exposure limit set by the Department of Energy for visitors to nuclear labs — in just a few months.

Llope, who said he plans to publish his findings in a peer-reviewed journal, declined to name the most hazardous varieties of granite he has thus far examined. But he said dangerously radioactive varieties include striated granites from Brazil and Namibia.

As many as 1,600 varieties of granite from 64 countries are sold for household use in the United States. None of them is routinely tested for radioactivity.

Jim Martinez, spokesman for the Marble Institute of America, a trade group which also represents the granite industry, cited a University of Akron study that found granite varieties used in 85 percent of such countertops are safe.

Still, he said, his organization is assembling a panel of scientists to develop a protocol for testing granite for radioactivity. He said that panel should be in place by summer's end.

"There's been a lot of junk science passed off as real science," Martinez said. "We want to establish scientific standards and protocol that would allow consistent testing in a logical way."

The trade group said reports of granite's radioactivity have been sensationalized by competitors who market non-granite products.

Llope hailed the group's move to test granite as an important first step in ensuring customer safety.

"There should be some oversight in this," Llope said. "This is something the Environmental Protection Agency or the dealers or both of them should do. This isn't something customers should have to do, not something they should have to lay awake worrying themselves to death about. They need help."

The EPA, although it offers the public information on radon hazards, has no authority to regulate quality of indoor air.

Llope said the radioactive substances in granite, significantly uranium, pose a double threat to homeowners: radiation and radon gas. Radiation exceeding levels an individual routinely receives just living on Earth can contribute to cancer. Radon is second only to cigarettes as a cause of lung cancer. It is especially dangerous to smokers.

"Where you have radon," Llope said, "you have radiation."

Llope said that slabs of stone taken from the same quarry — even different sections of the same slab — may differ in radiation levels.

In addition to his study of granite purchased in Houston, Llope studied 20 peer-reviewed journal articles reporting on the results of radiation testing of 95 granite samples. Llope found three cases where the stones generated levels of radon deemed dangerous by EPA.

"I'm not claiming that people necessarily will get very sick or die of cancer within months," he said, "but if you spend 10 years in that kitchen there is a risk you may end up with cancer. It might or might not be attributed to granite. Who would know?"

Llope advised homeowners to test their granite countertops for radon. Inexpensive test kits can be found at hardware stores.

allan.turner@chron.com
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