Amazed by strange radioactive products

Most of us try to avoid radioactive warning zones, but Andrew Walker – who lives in Bozeman, Montana in the northern US – finds ways to collect radioactive objects. They can be found right inside antique shops, parking lots and buildings everywhere.

It all started with a video on the Internet. In it, Andrew Walker sees a collector of radioactive objects showing off what he has found over the years, such as some antiques containing substances close to uranium.

Walker thinks finding such items “in real life” will probably be very interesting and will be an unusual passion. Therefore, Walker decided to purchase a Geiger detector. Walker also quickly realized that radiation was everywhere – just as scientists often say.

Amazed by strange radioactive products
Most of us try to avoid radiation warning zones.

For the first time, a transmitter has detected radioactive material inside the parking lot of a Mexican fast food restaurant in the northern US state of Idaho.

“I noticed that when I pulled over, the Geiger gauge started to issue a warning signal,” Walker recalls at the time. There must be something nearby that is sucking up the tiny atomic particles that produce a higher-than-normal radiation intensity. Although it was impossible to find out what the object was, it was enough for Walker to immediately notice this invisible activity.

Since then, Walker began to discover many other interesting cases. Today, collecting radioactive objects is still Walker’s special hobby.

In fact, Walker is just a theater attendant and a filmmaker, not a scientist. Walker enjoys sharing his findings on Twitter and Instagram, social platforms that allow him to discuss with others with similar interests.

Radioactivity is something that lives with humans, meaning that it is always present somewhere but only in relatively small amounts. Around the world, naturally occurring radioactive substances in above-average concentrations are found in many places, such as beaches, soils, and many others.

Amazed by strange radioactive products
Objects with higher-than-normal levels of radiation are found everywhere, especially in antique stores.

Meanwhile, most concrete is radioactive with different intensities. In the US, people can check their homes for radon, which is a gas that is gradually released over time from radioactive building materials. Even the human body is slightly radioactive due to the presence of elements such as potassium-40.

Later, Walker stumbled upon an interesting historical fact: in the past, iron slag containing small amounts of uranium and radium was commonly used in construction concrete in the state of Idaho.

Walker wondered if that had led him to detect radiation outside the Mexican restaurant. Walker likes to plan trips to various locales where he thinks he can find interesting materials. If he found one, he would document his discovery.

There are a lot of old uranium mines in the US. When traveling, Walker often visits some of these abandoned uranium mining towns. Walker also began frequenting antique shops.

“At every antique store I visit, I always find something radioactive,” says Walker. Such items include a striking blue-yellow glimmering glass dish containing uranium. Walker also found red-orange coatings and bowls that are derived from uranium and therefore give off a stronger signal.

The US government warns people against using such radioactive crockery for food or drink, even though the health risks of using or possessing them are actually negligible.

In addition, watches and dials coated with reflective paint often contain radium. However, basically, those items are safe if we don’t take them apart. But, workers who produce these items in the factory often have a habit of holding paintbrushes on their lips while working, and that causes them to accidentally ingest small amounts of paint containing radium.

As a result, many workers suffer from some dangerous diseases such as cancer of the jawbone. That’s why Walker tries not to put himself in unnecessary danger.

As for the slightly radioactive porcelain, Walker said: “If they weren’t radioactive, I would probably have displayed them, but now I have to store them carefully.” Walker’s strange hobby has surprised and intrigued friends and family. “They asked me why I went to places like that and discovered these dangerous items,” explains Walker. Because it’s my own hobby and it’s fun.”

Walker has even detected slightly higher levels of radiation than usual in building materials used in certain public facilities such as train stations – perhaps because they are coated with a special paint. . The Geiger radiometer is something that is quite easy to create because in fact some hobbyists have assembled the device themselves and then found a radioactive source to test the machine.

Walker bought the RadEye instrument for ,300 that can detect alpha, beta, and gamma radiation. Radiochemist Nick Evans from Nottingham Trent University (UK) points out that radioactivity can be measured in a variety of ways.

Amazed by strange radioactive products
Walker is not the only radioactive object collector, but there are many others who have this hobby, even making their own Geiger measuring device.

For example, one way is to observe the rate of nuclear decay over time and the international unit of measure for this activity is the Becquerel. However, people may be more familiar with the unit of measurement, Sieverts (or Microsieverts or Millisieverts) – this is the amount that causes the radioactive effect and is also the unit used by Walker.

However, Evans said the standard method for measuring is to bring the Geiger instrument closer to the source about 1m so that the radiation intensity of the object can be compared accurately.

Amazed by strange radioactive products
In the Austrian town of Bad Gastein, spa goers try to boost their health by breathing in radon gas.

It’s a very different thing from anything else,” says Evans. It’s like a mystery that people obviously want to try everything with it, play games with it, if you like.”

There was even a time when many manufacturers came up with unimaginable products. For example, the radioactive pill inserted into the anus to cure impotence in men despite the “treatment method” does not come from any medical scientific basis.

There are certainly safer ways to “restore masculinity” than taking this drug. But it’s not the only health-related product that aims to support patients with a dose of atomic decay. Radioactive toothpaste and even radioactive condoms have been marketed.

Even commented on radioactive condoms: “I have absolutely no idea where those thoughts come from. I also have a box of that product, but I don’t use it.”

Anyway, there are still many people today who believe that increasing the dose of radiation can be good for the body in some way. For example, there is a sauna near the Austrian Alps called Gad Gastein – it is a destination that allows people to tour the wet tunnels in an old gold mine, allowing diseases to be excreted in sweat and they can breathe radon gas.

Amazed by strange radioactive products
Geiger measuring device.

Many scientists have long criticized the public’s habit of mistrusting anything related to radiation. The tension when it comes to radiation is exaggerated and controversial.

According to one study, only 190 people died from direct radiation exposure between 1980 and 2013. Walker says a lot of the fears seem increasingly “unreasonable” over time. about radiation. Even so, trips and antique shop visits show just how common radioactivity is in reality.

Radioactivity is a type of energy. The radioactive substance that the Geiger instrument detected is because it produces energy when it decays – that is, atoms repeatedly break apart extremely small particles. Some of these radioactive activities eject electrons from other atoms and create conductive molecules – a process called “ionizing radiation”. The three types of particles of ionizing radiation, from largest to smallest, are:

Radioactive elements decay to produce radioactive substances such as uranium and radium. Alpha particles can be intercepted with a piece of paper, as can the outer layer of human skin. But gamma rays have a deeper exposure and can only be blocked with very dense materials such as lead.