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Question:
For several years now I have been actively involved in the field of radiochemistry, and have turned my attention toward isolating and purifying various radioactive elements from household sources and/or rocks and minerals. (Of course, I am extremely concerned with safety.) Would you have any pertinent information on laboratory procedures for doing so, particularly with radium and thorium?



Replies:
Your question sends chills through my heart. Radiochemistry does NOT make a good hobby! Yeah, sure, we have lots of laboratory procedures for working with radioelements, but they all begin with something like "carry this procedure out only in a Federally-approved radiochemical facility." We have such a facility, and it is very expensive. The entire ventilation system runs through filters so fine that sub-micron particles can't get through them. Waste management guidelines are considerable. We have trained health physicists here whose job is to look for any releases of radiation. The exits of the facility have very expensive radiation monitors. If you want to do this stuff, hook up with somebody who has such a facility. Otherwise, DON'T DO IT! DON'T EVEN TRY!

Richard Barrans Jr., Ph.D.



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