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?
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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Update: June 2012