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Radioactivity Warning Surprise

Radioactivity Warning Surprise
A chemist had a hunch that radioactive contamination might have come from a window. How could a window be the cause?
Mysteries of Science


In 1992, the Smith's factory was subject to a new government standard that required the facilities to be checked for radioactivity. There was not much concern from the workers since this was not a nuclear plant, and nothing radioactive was used.

A routine radioactivity check was conducted along the outside of the building. Surprisingly, the soil showed a high and unacceptable level of radiation.

More tests were done, and a "hot spot" was located next to a window. The readings were extremely high and were taken as a serious warning of impending danger.

The chief chemist had a hunch that radioactive contamination might have come from the window.     

Was the window causing the high levels of radioactivity, what was the original source? 

Here's the rest of the story.

One element detected was radium; this suggested that the waste might be from luminous paint once used on clock dials. Checking old records revealed that the building had once been used to make clocks. The window with the high radiation was exactly where the dials and clock hands were painted.

The dial painter probably flicked off excess paint from the brush, right out the window. We can only guess the eventual fate of the worker who painted the clock dials with radium.


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