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Another Great AEC handbook

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:38 pm
by Richard Hull
"Laboratory Experiments with Radioisotopes for High School Science", AEC, Samuel Schenberg, 1958 (revised)

This a small 59 page tome in 6" X 9" pamphlet form that was designed to inspire and instruct High School teachers in developing a Nuclear isotope program for their high schools in the 50's.

Lots of Isotopes were offered as with all the Atoms for Peace programs to students and teachers alike. All experiments are done with open 10ml solutions of 10uCi of P32 and I131. There are also uses with solutions of Cs137 and Tl204.

Appendix II covers worries about radioacivity and hazards with P32 and I 131. I quote.........

"It is the considered opinion....that no health hazard is involved (to the student or the teacher) in carrying out laboroatory experiments with radioactive Iodine 131 and Phosphous 32 in amounts not exceeding 10 uCi."

more.......... synopsized by me and quoted in spots.

The case of a total spill of the entire contents of 10uCi of I 131 on a students clothing is treated in detail. They assume the idiot student would have a circular spill spot of area of ~10 cm sq. and that the area would dry out and be resting directly against the skin .....

"The student would receive a dose rate in the germinal layer of the epidermis of 6 rads per hour, with the contaminated cloth against the skin. The cloth would have to remain in contact with the skin for 10 days to product an appreciable reddenning of the skin, resembling a mild sunburn."

They felt, (hoped), that the student would not wear the same clothing for days on end and conclude regarding concentrated spills on clothing that......."no skin burn could possibly result from extremely careless handling of 10uCi of I 131."

In proceeding on to P32 they note the beta rays are much more penetrating and a similar accident would produce visible reddening in a few days on continuously worn, unwashed clothing. But all is well, for they noted that such a spill of the entire contents would alert a teacher as there would be nothing left for experiment in the class.

It is stated that the material might be handled with little more care than that afforded corrosive acids. Disposal of used liquid waste materials was suggested to be down a lab drain with plenty of water to flush it fully from the classroom plumbing. Contaminated paper should be carried in a marked container to the furnace room and burned or sequestered and allow to decay and disposed of normally with other paper wastes.

A full quote......."Ingestion of the material - If by accident a student or teacher drank all the 10 ml solution containing the full 10uCi of I 131 no noticable harm would result"......"Accidental ingestion of a full 10 uCi of P32 can also be considered harmless".

What a time to be alive or aglow.

There are plenty of experiments, (20 in all), with most being biological in nature though a simple GM counter is constructed along with a cloud chamber and spintharioscope. In one place, it is suggested that you scrape some of radium paint off of an old defective or disused watch or clock face or hands for use in experiment.

An interesting look back at the good old days when the atom was our best friend and the nuclear genie would light a pathway into a bright future for us all.

Richard Hull

Re: Another Great AEC handbook

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 9:08 pm
by lutzhoffman
Very Interesting......

With both of these isotopes, internally they would be bad. P-32 would go to the bones, and I-131 would go to an even smaller area in the thyroid gland. Radiation to the thyroid later can produce a nasty hard to treat cancer, my best friends dad died from this form of thyroid cancer. He was an X-ray technologist for almost 40 years, at Childrens Orthopedic Hospital in Seattle going back to a time when kids were held for the shot as a matter of routine. Now days the parents are used to hold them if it is needed.

For I-131 check out the history of the Vantage Indian Tribe, they were the first in line when several million Ci of I-131 was released from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The purpose of the experiment was simply to see what it would do to thje people down wind. The Vantage tribe was pretty much wiped out, and even in La Grande Or which is over 150 miles away, babies from this time pretty much had their thyroids ablated with thyroid doses in the hundreds of rem. They still use a dose of about 100uCi to partially ablate overactive thyroids

P-32 is used now to help kill the pain from terminal bone cancer, and even to treat some forms of it, so this one has a better ending.

It is amazing how society can go from one extreem to another, I wonder sometimes what will be the things which we have in our day to day lives today, which will become the DDT, or asbestos of tommorrow?

These old books and manuals can be a lot of fun to read. I have an old x-ray training manual, which has a "fun experiment" to see X-rays directly. They advise the person to put a lead number of letter in a wood block, and place it near the output of an x-ray tube. Then it tells the student to place their eye right over the block in a dark room, where they will see the letter/number upside down, in the blue light from the x-rays stimulating the retina directly. Great fun, I wonder how many cataracts came from this fun experiment : )

Re: Another Great AEC handbook

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:33 pm
by Doug Coulter
So, when are you going to scan it, threshold it to one bit b/w, and save as gif, then send it to my library so we can all share?

If that's too hard, you could lend it to me and I can do it while sitting here bored watching the markets.