Safety & Radioactive Ore for Sale
Here we examine some issues surrounding the safety of radioactive ore for sale here or elsewhere on the internet. Things that are deemed safe or unsafe in regard to standard practices or amounts of nuclear radiation exposure are reasonably solid concepts. In many cases, however, perspectives to do with a person’s personal safety index about radioactive ore and radiation levels can quickly make it a very relative or subjective topic.
Perspectives of Radioactive Ore Safety
For example, when one compares activity or energy output levels of a rock for sale, here, to many of those of man-made isotopes used in science and industry, it will often put even a very safety-conscious person more at ease. Cobalt-60 (used to sterilize instruments or irradiate tumors) emits gamma rays with energies of up to 1.332 MeV, whereas a rock we sell from the floor of Jurassic Canyon is made up primarily of inert stone, marbled with a minority of uraninite which, even in its purest form, emits gamma rays of 2.0 KeV (which, on the same scale as Cobalt-60, above, is only 0.000002 MeV).
Conversely, when someone says they sell “probably the most radioactive natural ore available, period” it gives a different impression to the lay observer, garnering letters of complaint to eBay and revisions to their list of blacklisted materials to now include autunite ore (natural calcium uranyl phosphate formations).
Make no mistake: even natural, 100% unprocessed geological formations in their raw form can be dangerous if mishandled – but this is no different than many substances or objects we take for granted in our daily lives, made available for cleaning, repairs, artwork, or even leisure. The specific precautions and risks may be different, but “how dangerous” these things are, when handled and stored properly, need not be viewed as any differently than a plastic bag (deadly around a toddler unattended), medicines or dietary supplements (often flavored like candy), or an endless list of substances or tools.
Legal Disclaimer (btw, in passing)
We neither claim to be qualified, nor do we assume any responsibility whatsoever, to educate the buyer or possessor of radioactive ore in the necessary topics of safety around the materials nor proper handing nor keeping of them. Below may not be a complete list of adequate resources. It is said person’s own responsibility to seek out and learn the necessary information before acquiring or handling radioactive ore. Below are a number or relevant thoughts and helpful resources.
Inverse Square Law of Radiation and Distance
- Shielding, the denser the more effective, is an elementary matter (essentially of common sense) but it is highly advised to keep a decent radiation meter of some kind on hand to double check the efficacy of any container at shielding radiation. It is always advised to use the Inverse Square Law of Radiation and Distance in conjunction with effective shielding. The author uses several concentric steel tins within tins to keep a small quantity of ore up in his closet, meters away from any living thing in passing and many meters away from long-term stations such as a bed or desk.
- Radon gas, a radioactive gas and cancer risk at considerable levels) is emitted by uranium and thorium ores and the sister elements they contain. A few, small rocks is generally of no concern where some semblance of ventilation is present via the opening and closing of doors on a regular basis. Larger amounts no educator or hobbyists normally needs can and will emit enough radon gas to cause concern. Radon gas decomposes and so is only so residual, but enough can be dangerous, especially long-term. Ultimately a radon gas detector is advised if in any doubt whatsoever. The EPA states, “The average indoor radon level is estimated to be about 1.3 pCi/L, and about 0.4 pCi/L of radon is normally found in the outside air. The U.S. Congress has set a long-term goal that indoor radon levels be no more than outdoor levels”.
For about $170 you can buy a detector in the form of a small cube that logs records and sends reports to your smartphone. It can be found at:
- Some ore can be soft or brittle and great care should be taken not to contaminate areas with it, to ingest it or even inhale tiny particles somehow launched into the air. Fortunately, particles tend to be relatively heavy and do not generally remain airborne for long like average dust, but a sweep of your air conditioner intake filter is also a good check.
- Pets, children, and any animal or person without adequate judgment or education must 100% effectively be kept away from access to radioactive ore. Contact emergency medical or veterinary professionals if even the slightest doubt exists there could be any issue such as internalizing any quantity of radioactive ore.
This is only a sample list of precautions and considerations.
Since these resources almost invariably involve much more hazardous materials than you will likely ever own, they are a good path to pursue to ensure you take more than ample steps to ensure the safety of you and anyone actively or passively involved with your possession of radioactive ore.
At the time this article was written the University of Washington was offering free courses in safety around radioactive sources such as this general one for lab techs:
and this one which is uranium-specific:
EdApp has a free course available here:
Radiation Safety Institute of Canada has a free course in audio-visial format accomanied by a PDF document (which is good, alone) at:
Internation Atomic Energy Agency (IAEE)
(easy to remember, because when you are at risk of exposure, you may scream, “AIEEeeeee!” and run away)
This is last but most certainly not least in terms of a phenomenal, world resource on radiation safety:
For more, search (as with Google.com) “free course on safety with radioactive materials”.
Actually, honorable mention should also go out to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) as their helpful documents often come up as educational materials available online, making nuclear science accessible to the lay person. Also, if you can wait to be contacted back, aren’t bad at answering questions or pointing people in the right direction in terms of legality on a federal level.
They are whose laws allow nationwide possession of radioactive ore (residential/business idiosyncrasies or building codes etc. not withstanding) whereas anything even remotely processed (which includes tailings or floor sweepings from a mine or factory, regardless of if it’s just monazite etc. – this means it was processed and is now “Source Material”!) is subject to state laws in 38 Agreement States whose local regulations trump NRC’s federal codes on anything other than unprocessed ore. This makes things like NRC § 40.22 “Small quantities of source material” completely useless to you on a state level in all 38 Agreement States. Learn the real facts about your state and do not rely on federal laws which do not pertain to you. Fortunately, this is of no consequence in matters of truly unprocessed, raw, radioactive ore which is legal on a federal level that takes precedence over most local regulations.