Tritium Keychains.. Watchout.

C

ckc

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I'm not sure if the quote of "26 times the allowable level" is a safety issue or just a local Japanes law but..

http://www.crunchgear.com/2008/07/1...-for-selling-radioactive-cell-phone-lanyards/

Japanese people love cell phone straps in all forms and colors, even old men do. However, some of them might be in serious trouble now.

Yesterday Japanese police arrested a man and a woman from Hiroshima for selling cell phone straps contaminated with tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. Japanese law requires special permission from the Ministry of Science and Technology for handling the substance.

The lanyards were contaminated with an amount of tritium 26 times that of the allowable level. The couple bought the radioactive material in the UK and processed it to manufacture the straps. Advertised with messages such as “Buy cell phone straps that can glow longer than 10 years!”, they were then sold online for prices between $47 and $61.

According to police, the pair sold 2,600 to 2,700 units and managed to rake in $160,000 in revenues over 3.5 years.
 
Marduke

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They may have used a tritum based paint, which actually is rather toxic. Tritium vials are completely safe, and unless you chew one up and eat it, you receive absolutely zero radiation from one.
 
Cuso

Cuso

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Are the vials in the picture the ones they where selling?? Those look like 3mmx23mm vials...Similar to the ones sold by Merkava and others.. Also they mention "contaminated" I doubt they used any sort of paint since the tritium must be in direct contact with the GITD surface to become reactive with it and glow. I guess someone decided to take one to a lab and reported the findings.
 
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Size15's

Size15's

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I've moved this thread.

One must be mindful of local laws and regulations. Products & substances may be restricted in one country but not in another.

I believe the USA has similar restrictions on Tritium - it can only be sold in non-frivolous devices and unfortunately keyfobs etc are considered to be frivolous.

Also, storage and shipping/transportation of Tritium is controlled, especially in large quantities - permits are required. I think this is the case in the UK where the Fire Service need to notified of buildings storing large quantities.

Further, using Tritium vials as sub-components may require manufacturing permits to allow workers to assemble them.

Additionally, products and devices containing Tritium vials may be required to meet manufacturing performance/safety standards.

Plenty of ways to fall foul of legal obligations!

And that's without modifying Tritium vials to create paint etc. :green:

It appears the photo shows a number of generic Tritium vial containing products.
 
Chuck289

Chuck289

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Ok, I have a slightly related question. I have a small tritium vial on my keychain. (I think its the ones merkava sells). Should I remove it before going through airport security? Ive been on flights before and didn't worry about it, but now I'm wondering....
After all some watches have tritium in them right :thinking:
 
Size15's

Size15's

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Charles,
I doubt there is a need for that. I've carried a glowring on my keys on every flight I've made in the last decade. Not an issue.

Personal ownership is different from the legal or regulatory issues with being able (or not) to import and/or retail such times.
 
Crenshaw

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Charles,
I doubt there is a need for that. I've carried a glowring on my keys on every flight I've made in the last decade. Not an issue.

Personal ownership is different from the legal or regulatory issues with being able (or not) to import and/or retail such times.

That might be more due to that fact that customs didnt recognise it as a tritium fob rather then it actually being allowed. In singapore, any radioactive substance is forbidden whether youre leaving or arriving at the airport. For that reason, i chose to leave my trtium at home when i went to hongkong, and i also refrained from buying tritium fobs in hondkong while i was there.

I suspect that tritium carrying is not widespread, and not well known enough that they have made laws for it here. Same with green lasers, im not sure what the actual legal status is here in singapore. I use the laser and the tritium responsibly, and make sure there isnt a reason to get caught, and be "that guy" that made them make a law for it.

Crenshaw
 
B@rt

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Bulk transport of tritium is in most cases regulated and requires special shipping. (That's how my vials get to me. ;) ) Small quantity transport usually isn't prohibited, even in the US tritium watches are sold and shipped via regular mail.

The problem with the Japanese is that they imported and traded without having that license, wich is why they purchased their tritium in the UK rather than factory direct. ;)
 
Illum

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“Buy cell phone straps that can glow longer than 10 years!”, they were then sold online for prices between $47 and $61.

well gee, how stupid. a little tritium in a few vials and coated correctly with phosphor could do the same while being completed shielded from open air:candle:

heck...tritium vials + diffused viber optics could yield lanyards of great profit too without endangering anyone.
 
Lunal_Tic

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Pair held for selling radioactive cell phone straps

Ichiro Shimozaki, 40, and Kyoko Fujii, 45, both from Hiroshima, are suspected of violating the 1957 radiation sickness prevention law that regulates the use, sale, lease or disposal of radioactive isotopes, police said.

It looks as though the photo from the OP link is of the actual items that were sold. The word "contaminated" is apparently being used to jazz up the story. Fear sells nearly as well as sex.

-LT

edit: another link link 2

The cell phone straps contain an amount of tritium about 26 times that of the allowable level per unit. But no harm can be expected even if the substance flows out, police said.
 
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C

Citivolus

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I can't get to the story in the OP right now, but I did happen to catch this on NHK news. They showed a sample of the product, and they were definitely vials.

Edit: Ah, I see the Japantoday page still has the image available which matches what I saw on the news.
 
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Oznog

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Where were these people when we were trying to do group buys?
 
C

Canonista

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Yesterday Japanese police arrested a man and a woman from Hiroshima for selling cell phone straps contaminated with tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. Japanese law requires special permission from the Ministry of Science and Technology for handling the substance.

Anyone else see the funny in this?
 
B

Bradlee

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They may have used a tritum based paint, which actually is rather toxic. Tritium vials are completely safe, and unless you chew one up and eat it, you receive absolutely zero radiation from one.

Tritium vials/fobs definitely do emit radiation! I accidentally wore mine while visiting a small research reactor last year (whoops!), and set off the full-body radiation detector on the way out. The vial around my neck was detected through my t-shirt and a sweater and was putting out enough beta radiation to deem me 'contaminated'. They did a swab test to ensure the source was contained; no tritium was leaking but radiation was still being emitted.

From everything I've read and having talked to a couple reactor techs, it would seem we don't know much about the effects of beta radiation on the body. There hasn't been much study on it at all.
 
A

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I would have to second that, there should be some ratiation emitted, but what's important is - how much? My understanding is that the vast majority of radiation detectors will have little or no response to beta from a tritium marker as it is extremely weak (blends into the "background"), and requires more advanced detectors to begin with. Did they give you any idea of the magnitude of the radiation being emitted?

I believe the widely held opinion that GTLSs pose little heath risk comes from the fact that simply living on the earth exposes your body to radiation from a variety of sources (both natural and man made) all the time. The fact that it's generally not enough to be detected above the background is why it should, technically, be of no concern.

And yes, I think our understanding of exactly what dangers beta radiation poses is pretty limited. The UK recently completed a study in which they recommended elevating the hazard classification of tritium, but I believe that this was primarily due to the dangers of tritium (or any other beta emitter) getting inside your body where sensitive tissues can receive relatively long duration exposure. It also can bind with water and organic molecules which increases the residence time in the body. Anyway, so long as your not leaking tritium (which is not possible through a properly sealed vial), I think you're pretty safe. Additionally, the quantity of tritium contained in a typical GTLS is extremely small, which further reduces the odds of it posing any health risk.
 
StarHalo

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From yet another "dangers of tritium" thread:

It's actually a glass tube that's suspended within another plastic tube that has epoxy applied to the ends to act as a shock absorber. It'd require some pretty serious abuse before it broke.

Should it break: The actual radioactive component in the vial is an isotope of hydrogen, which is much lighter than air; the tiny amount gas would immediately disperse and float away. Even if you were standing directly over a freshly broken vial, odds are the gas would be too dispersed for even a single molecule to reach your breathing space. If the vial were in your hand or pocket - again, it's a radioactive gas and not solid or fluid, it would simply float off and away, no more glow from your vial.

Worst case scenario: You break the vial on a table/desk, then IMMEDIATELY cup your hands around the vial and place your face directly over it and inhale deeply. If this were to happen, you'd receive as much radiation as ...a dental x-ray.

That's the beauty of the tritium vial design, rather than relying on the radioactive substance itself to glow, it uses a strong phosphor that glows brightly with very little energy, so you can use a remarkably weak source of radioactivity to produce a glow. The beta radiation that comes off of a tritium vial cannot penetrate tissue paper, and can only make it about a quarter inch from the vial in open air before dissipating. It's so weak that even if you were to set a Geiger Counter on its most sensitive setting, then press the probe directly onto the vial, it would not register a reading at all.
 
A

AvidHiker

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Yeah, that seems to be the concensus at the moment, but I'm cautious about making assumptions that the amount of research out there to date has sufficiently proven this statement. Obviously I haven't done the research myself, but I have a friend who is a nuclear scientist and he has impressed this upon me as well.

I know that I've read somewhere that inhalation has not been found (I suppose through animal testing) to be a very effective route of exposure. So long as all the gas remains as gas, you're good. The catch is that tritium doesn't necessarily remain in a purely gaseous form when released into the environment - it can form tritiated water either through direct reaction with oxygen or proton exchange with existing water in the atmosphere. Formation of T2O (tritiated water) can lead to the formation of other nasty compounds, like OBT (organically-bound tritium), all of which greatly magnify the exposure risk to humans. It's likely that this does not happen fast enough to present any risk, but I haven't been able to find out if this has been thoroughly addressed in toxcicity research.

The DOE has a good bit of information on this webpage. There is also a nice list of references in the wikipedia entry (which I have yet to look through myself). Interestingly, the DOE page mentions that tritium is pretty much the weakest beta emitter known and that the beta emissions from tritium travel no more than 5 mm through air (and 0.005 mm through skin!) before being dissipated. This would suggest to me that it was almost a total fluke that any beta emission from your glowring was detectable. OR - perhaps this is somewhat dated information and, once again, more research is needed to fully understand the hazard. Who knows, but working in R&D for 10 years has turned me into quite a skeptic I guess.

Anyway, you can never be too careful! (and this is coming from a guy who currently has 3 of [email protected]'s TiGlow glowrings on his keychain - over three curies of tritium which is many, many times what is typically contained in the little 5mm vials)
 

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