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A general guide for using the Forum with some rules and tips
Uraninite storage
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Xaranar




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PostPosted: Jul 29, 2019 17:21    Post subject: Re: Uraninite storage  

Bob Harman wrote:
I hate to reenter this thread, but I find the most interesting aspect of the whole discussion, the original question that an obvious novice, needing to ask basic questions of how to collect and display radioactive minerals, wants to start out with collecting them in the first place.

There is so much to start out with, it just seems strange to start with collecting radioactive minerals. Why? Legitimate reasons or?
BOB


Hi Bob

You are right, it is a strange place to start, but that is because I am more interested in radioactivity than I am minerals. I don’t know what you would consider to be a legitimate reason, but that is mine. I figure I’m probably not alone in that aspect, hence why presumed here would be a good place to ask. Lo and behold I was correct, and have received sound advice.
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alfredo
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PostPosted: Jul 29, 2019 18:38    Post subject: Re: Uraninite storage  

Bob, I think your insinuation that someone might want radioactive minerals for nefarious purposes ("Legitimate reasons or?") is a bit ridiculous and paranoid. What illegitimate activities could one do with them? Grind them up in your enemies‘ coffee to give them cancer? There would be much easier ways. The NRC exempts radioactive minerals in their natural unprocessed state from their transport regulations precisely because the level of radioactivity is so weak compared to that of the artificial and purified isotopes that are of real concern to the government.

Interest in radioactive minerals waxes and wanes with the times and the news. It was very high in the USA during the uranium prospecting boom in the 1950s, then slowly declined. In Japan I noticed a big spike in interest in radioactive minerals at mineral shows for about 2 years after the Fukushima meltdown, but that has faded away again. For a while lots of Tokyo people were buying geiger counters and then wanted a radioactive mineral too to test it with.

Then there are the crazy freaks.... One lady at a mineral show asked me whether I could get her some big uraninite crystals. I asked, "How big?" She said, "Big enough to drill a hole through." That horrified even me. But she was scared of all that evil radiation coming from Fukushima, 200 km away, and her guru said that the "natural radiation" from uraninite crystals would "repel" that artificial radiation coming from Fukushima. Hence her burning need for a uraninite crystal necklace. %))
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Peter Lemkin




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PostPosted: Jul 29, 2019 23:30    Post subject: Re: Uraninite storage  

Let us not forget there are 'radioactive minerals' and there are 'radioactive minerals'! Some have very low radiation levels or are mostly alpha and beta emissions only. Others, like some I have in my radioactive sub-collection are hot as hell in gamma and radon production and are off the scale on my very good scintillation meter!...which goes up to 45 uSv/h. The former I could see in a normal mineral case if not large and not large in number. The latter are dangerous indoors, around children, pets, food, and the main collector and their family. Again, everyone is free to make their own risk-benefit analysis and do as they please; but please don't use anecdotal 'information/myth/beliefs', but use science - easily found in radiation safety textbooks or papers put out by EPA and other country's radiation safety organizations. If you smoke and have radiation particles or radon in your home, your chances of cancer and not A + B. There is a well know experimental and epidemiological synergistic effect of about x25-x100+. Throw in all the toxics and carcinogens in the average Amercian home and food, you are looking at a toxic mix. Then add the residual radiation worldwide from Chernobyl, 2-mile island, the 50s/60s nuclear tests and Fukashima etc.......
Caveat Emptor.
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Jesse Fisher




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PostPosted: Jul 29, 2019 23:53    Post subject: Re: Uraninite storage  

Perhaps another consideration would be just how much uranium is present in the mineral in question. Uraninite is basically uranium oxide, which contains somewhere around 85% uranium by weight. It has the potential to produce much more radon per a given weight/volume than the secondaries such as autunite, torbernite, etc, which have a much lower uranium content.
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alfredo
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PostPosted: Jul 30, 2019 00:44    Post subject: Re: Uraninite storage  

Geological age is another consideration, Jesse. In recently formed secondaries, like the liebigite from the Schwartzwalder mine, there aren‘t many daughter products, just the uranium, chemically separated from the radioactive daughter products in the older U ores.
In the very old uranium minerals from Precambrian rocks, like the betafites from Ontario, I imagine the daughter products must make a considerable contribution to the overall emissions. But I‘m no expert at all on nuclear fission reactions, so perhaps one of our radiation experts could elaborate on this. As a geologist I‘m curious at what geological age would one reach equilibrium, or rather a steady state where all the daughter products are at a constant atomic ratio? Or does this happen relatively quickly in terms of geologic age?
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Xaranar




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PostPosted: Jul 30, 2019 01:16    Post subject: Re: Uraninite storage  

I just find the entire concept of radioactivity fascinating, and I want to own a piece of something with said properties simply because I find it so. And I want to do so safely and responsibly. As has been said, I’d need refined uranium to be able to do any real damage, and it would need to be highly enriched U-235 rather than the 99% of all natural uranium that is U-238. I’m not a physicist by any means, but I do have an amateur interest in nuclear physics and the entire concept blows my mind.
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Peter Lemkin




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PostPosted: Jul 30, 2019 01:55    Post subject: Re: Uraninite storage  

Xaranar wrote:
I just find the entire concept of radioactivity fascinating, and I want to own a piece of something with said properties simply because I find it so. And I want to do so safely and responsibly. As has been said, I’d need refined uranium to be able to do any real damage, and it would need to be highly enriched U-235 rather than the 99% of all natural uranium that is U-238. I’m not a physicist by any means, but I do have an amateur interest in nuclear physics and the entire concept blows my mind.


It depends what you mean by 'real damage'. More than a few of the persons, for example, who worked on the Manhattan Project died in a few hours to few days due to accidents - and these were the top radiation physicists, but some things were not known yet. Marie Curie died of exposure to all the radiation she worked with. Venomous snakes are interesting too, but do you want the risk of having them at home? Radiation damage is cumulative - the body has some, but insufficient mechanisms to repair the damage - and the older you are or if you are very young you are more at risk from radiation damage. You seem utterly fascinated by something powerful yet invisible. Black holes are like that and you'd not want one nearby. You don't need enriched uranium for it to be dangerous. Uranium miners have much higher lung and other cancer risks. OK, they get much more exposure than you likely will....but as a novice, you are playing IMHO with things you don't understand the danger of, the statistics of, the epidemiology of, the toxicology of - you only know you are fascinated and want some. You have some, but treat it as you would a venomous snake or deadly ricin poison or a hand grenade. My take.

If you reported the radiation level correctly [and I'm not sure you did], your sample has the same level of radiation as the city next to the Fukashima nuclear plant THAT WAS EVACUATED OF ALL PERSONS not working to prevent the plant from exploding or melting-down.

As you can not ever see radiation or radon, having it in a case will not allow you to see them. You can 'see' a manifestation of them in several ways: using a scintillation counter, but do the calculation for a yearly dose and see on a table how dangerous that will be. You can also put the sample on old-fashioned photographic film for about five minutes and have it developed - you will see the hot spots and how the radiation moves out away from the shape of the rock itself. For this the best is large sheet photographic film [not roll 35mm]. Or read about radiation - but treat it with the respect it deserves. You will never see or hear it, but it CAN harm you if you are not careful. I have radioactive minerals, but NOT in my regular collection - at least not the very radioactive ones and from your report, this is very radioactive. Don't let your fascination cause harm to you and your family. If handled responsibly, one can have radioactive minerals in one's collection, but I agree with what BOB said that generally they are not for beginners....
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Peter Lemkin




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PostPosted: Jul 30, 2019 05:38    Post subject: Re: Uraninite storage  

A fairly good overview on radon especially...

https://www.mindat.org/article.php/887/A+few+thoughts+on+the+safe+handling+of+radioactive+rock+specimens

Another article that has some merit. I find neither of these in complete agreement with my ideas - but am not in the mood to write a similar tome....both of these, however, are good and sensible.


Radioactive minerals - Taking Sensible Precautions Sensible Precautions

No activity is absolutely safe, The risk associated with collecting radioactive minerals can be greatly reduced by taking the simple, sensible precautions listed below:-

Invest in a Geiger counter, learn how to use it properly, and use it regularly to check radiation levels around your collection.
In the UK safety is controlled by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Visit their website at www.hse.gov.uk/radiation/ionising/doses to learn more about radiation. The currently recommended maximum doses are specified in the Ionising Radiation Regulation 1999 (IRR99). For members of the general public the limit is 1 milli-Sievert/calendar year (100milli-rad/calendar year).

Note: as knowledge is accumulated, the recommended safety levels may change.
World-wide the average background radiation level is 2.85 milli-Sieverts/calendar year of which 2.0 milli-Sieverts is due to Radon gas that accumulates in cellars, mines etc. We have no control over this radiation other than to avoid obvious 'hot-spots'.
When buying a Geiger counter, check the instrument range to be sure that it reads accurately at micro-Sievert level.

Note:The meter reading will then enable you to calculate how many hours per year you can safely be exposed to the measured radiation level.
Choose smaller specimens. These frequently have finer crystals and smaller specimens will reduce the total amount of radiation.
Place individual specimens in closed cases whenever possible.
Keep your collection in a cabinet, preferably a steel one.
Do not store radioactive specimens in frequently occupied living rooms, especially any that may contain food or drink.
If possible store the collection in a separate building such as a shed or garage remote from the house. A brick building affords better shielding than a wooden one.
Make sure that the building is well ventilated.
Ensure that the collection is kept clean and dust-free.
Limit the time spent examining your specimens. The measured radiation levels from your collection will determine the maximum number of hours per year that you can safely be exposed to the radiation. If you want to study your specimens in detail, why not photograph them?

Most importantly of all,

Take great care not to inhale or ingest dust from the specimen or its case. Internal organs cannot be protected against the most damaging form of radiation, alpha particles. Dead skin or a sheet of paper will protect against external sources.
For the same reason, do not handle specimens when you have cuts or broken skin.
Thoroughly wash your hands after handling specimens

The different radiation threats

Radiation is effecively distributed uniformly over the surface of a sphere having the source at its centre. Intensity decreases very rapidly as the inverse square of the distance from source. So avoid getting too close to your specimens.
Alpha particles travel only a few inches in air and can be stopped by a sheet of paper or skin. However, alpha particles will penetrate the epithelium that covers internal organs. The greatest threat from alpha particles is therefore material entering the body through ingestion, cuts, open wounds etc. Cleanliness (avoiding dust) is your best protection.
Beta particles will travel several inches in air before being 'captured' but can be stopped by a sheet of aluminium, thick clothing etc. The better quality Geiger counters will have a thin wall that allows beta particle radiation to be measured.
Gamma radiation poses by far the greatest threat. Being pure electomagnetic radiation it has no potential energy to dissipate and can only be stopped by several inches of lead; but intensity decreases with the square of the distance from the source. A good Geiger counter is therefore your best protection. It should come with a calibration against a known source, e.g.Cesium-137. Its measurement of micro-Sieverts/hour (milli-rads/hour) will determine how many hours per year you can safely study your specimens without exceeding the HSE recommended maximum dose.
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Kevin Schofield




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PostPosted: Jul 30, 2019 09:14    Post subject: Re: Uraninite storage  

Bob Harman wrote:
I hate to reenter this thread, but I find the most interesting aspect of the whole discussion, the original question that an obvious novice, needing to ask basic questions of how to collect and display radioactive minerals, wants to start out with collecting them in the first place.

There is so much to start out with, it just seems strange to start with collecting radioactive minerals. Why? Legitimate reasons or?
BOB


Careful Bob. To this reader your frankly rather paranoid (and I feel from your usual jovial and helpful contributions rather out-of-character!) suggestion of illegitimate reasons looks a little like trolling a man asking an innocent question on an amateur forum.

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John Medici




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PostPosted: Aug 01, 2019 12:30    Post subject: Re: Uraninite storage  

Xaranar, continue your interest in radioactives and don't take those who have major fears of radioactivity too seriously! My first year of grad. school at Rutgers I took a good industrial-oriented course on handling and use of radioactive elements and materials. My trip to the first Bancroft (Ontario) Gemboree (1964) placed me in contact with many field collecting options for some of the best crystals (my main interest in radioactives) available anywhere (thorite, betafite, uraninite, uranophane), and lots of other things like zircons that carry some radioactivity. One of the locals at the Gemboree had a pail full of thorite crystals from Kemp Prospect (Cheddar, Ontario) that he was selling crystals from - that represented quite a lot of exposure for him and I probably would not recommend that although my family and I have had significant exposure collecting at times. In the thorite area there was an extremely hot (radioactive) feldspar area that some friends collected - not sure of the radioactivity origin.
Radon should be recognized as quite dangerous if breathed in, since its alpha rays are long lasting enough to seriously affect the lungs if the radon is next to tissue. Care in opening containers and drawers should also be taken and good ventilation is highly recommended for a collection of radioactives.
Canada-USA border crossing data has allowed radioactives (called "source material" in their literature) but we have not tried to carry such material across the border in the past few years since the 9/11 attack has made it somewhat more difficult.
Keep in mind that short time exposure viewing radioactive minerals that are displayed in a showcase is quite trivial when one considers our continued bombardment from outer space, and dental X-rays, stress tests and other medical tests (usually with short half-life materials) add to such exposure.
Have fun collecting radioactives! If it means anything, I'm 81 and have been collecting them for 55 years.



0378302-R3-E206.jpg
 Mineral: thorite in calcite
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pretty hot zone!
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0378302-R3-E206.jpg



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Peter Lemkin




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PostPosted: Aug 01, 2019 22:58    Post subject: Re: Uraninite storage  

John Medici wrote:
Xaranar, continue your interest in radioactives and don't take those who have major fears of radioactivity too seriously! My first year of grad. school at Rutgers I took a good industrial-oriented course on handling and use of radioactive elements and materials. My trip to the first Bancroft (Ontario) Gemboree (1964) placed me in contact with many field collecting options for some of the best crystals (my main interest in radioactives) available anywhere (thorite, betafite, uraninite, uranophane), and lots of other things like zircons that carry some radioactivity. One of the locals at the Gemboree had a pail full of thorite crystals from Kemp Prospect (Cheddar, Ontario) that he was selling crystals from - that represented quite a lot of exposure for him and I probably would not recommend that although my family and I have had significant exposure collecting at times. In the thorite area there was an extremely hot (radioactive) feldspar area that some friends collected - not sure of the radioactivity origin.
Radon should be recognized as quite dangerous if breathed in, since its alpha rays are long lasting enough to seriously affect the lungs if the radon is next to tissue. Care in opening containers and drawers should also be taken and good ventilation is highly recommended for a collection of radioactives.
Canada-USA border crossing data has allowed radioactives (called "source material" in their literature) but we have not tried to carry such material across the border in the past few years since the 9/11 attack has made it somewhat more difficult.
Keep in mind that short time exposure viewing radioactive minerals that are displayed in a showcase is quite trivial when one considers our continued bombardment from outer space, and dental X-rays, stress tests and other medical tests (usually with short half-life materials) add to such exposure.
Have fun collecting radioactives! If it means anything, I'm 81 and have been collecting them for 55 years.


I'll introduce you to the miner in Jakymov who lives on the radioactive waste dump. I find this kind of post a tad irresponsible. Radon gas is not a little dangerous it is highly dangerous. When it gets into the lung it breaking down into Polonium [in the hundreds of thousands of decays per minute to per second depending on how much you inhaled. The Polonium will stick to the epithelium of the lung and bombard it with alpha radiation, causing mutations leading to lung cancer, for five years on average T1/2=~5 yr. What most do not know, have never been told or taught and was the focus of my graduate work is the synergism of all the toxic and carcinogenic items [mostly human-made] in our environment - especially the indoor environment. That is why the rates of cancers are rising amazingly fast in 'developed' nations. There are harmful and carcinogenic chemicals in your food [yes the agencies tasked with protecting you are bought-out and ruled by the corporations who stand to make a profit poisoning you. Ditto most cheap non-real-solid wood furniture [the glues in the fake wood or wood laminates outgas and are carcinogenic. Same for cheap carpets. No stick fry pans are carcinogenic. ...and I could go on. Yes, I collect some radioactives, but I treat them specially and carefully, as I know the risks. They are kept in a Pb box with a radon vent - kept outside and I always wash my hands when there are no cuts or sores on my hands immediately after handling. Those are very hot rocks. Lesser 'hot' rocks can sometimes be kept in a case inside, but even there there is an increased risk unless you have good air circulation in the room AND case!...and not sump area where the radon will accumulate invisibly. The radiation is more than additive [that is what synergistic effect is all about] with all the other carcinogens in the human environment. Playing ostrich is not the solution nor anecdotes on being older and having handled radioactives. This is not science. Sorry. Humans, especially in the USA, live in very [and increasingly] cancer-causing environments. Adding another, without careful though about it is not a wise move. Anyone who would like a free ebook on Environmental toxicology [including radiation], PM me.
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cascaillou




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PostPosted: Oct 06, 2019 17:02    Post subject: Re: Uraninite storage  

https://www.academia.edu/40433628/An_Overview_of_Minerals_Toxicity

see part 2.1 and part 4.2.5
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cascaillou




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PostPosted: Oct 21, 2019 15:54    Post subject: Re: Uraninite storage  

PS: final version of the article (updated November 11, 2019) is now available.
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