Radioactive Exit Sign Safety
After a radioactive isotope has disintegrated fully, then it stops glowing. At that point it cannot be used to light the letters of an exit sign. However, the materials used in such signage may well wear out before all of their radioactive contents have disintegrated fully. That fact points out the need for a recycling of radioactive exit signs.
Manufacturing radioactive exit signs
The manufacturers who make radioactive exit signs do not represent the only group that produces and sells a product that contains a dangerous material, and releases radiating rays. Those facilities that manufacture any of the contrast media that is used at clinics and in hospitals work with similar chemicals. Their products are part of a safe recycling process.
Documented release and sale of radioactive exit signs
Like the radioactive exit signs, the containers that hold such contrast media must have a label, one that makes clear the nature of the materials inside of that container. As with designated signs, the sale of contrast media involves the completion of a good deal of paperwork that must then be sent to government authorities.
Those who buy such a product understand the responsibility that has been placed on them, as the buyer of something that contains radioactive materials.
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Frequently, someone who has purchased a product containing a radioactive chemical finds that he or she discontinues utilization of that product/chemical before it has disintegrated fully. However, he or she does not want to store that unneeded and rather dangerous substance. That fact explains the existence of facilities that have been designed to collect and transport radioactive materials. Once collected, such substances can be recycled in the proper manner.
Such precautionary procedures did not exist when chemists first began working with those chemicals that produced some form of radioactivity. In fact, back when the Curies and Rutherford were working with such substances, those professional scientists did not hesitate to send any studied item to another chemist using the regular mail service. Back then no one had given much thought to safety concerns, let alone to the idea of recycling a glowing object.
Risks associated with radioactive substances
Unfortunately, a well-reported tragedy alerted society to the need to proceed with caution, when using anything that displayed radioactivity. For a while some people thought that radioactive substances could be used to heal certain medical conditions. That terrible misconception was put to rest when one very wealthy man, Eben Beyers tried to use the imagined healing powers in a radium tonic. Four years after buying that tonic he developed severe radiation sickness.
Recycling radioactive exit signs
Of course, today physicians do not deal repeatedly with patients who have radiation sickness, even though society has established a procedure for using recycled radioactive exit signs. That is due to the controls that have been put on the entire process. All such signage is treated with the proper level of caution.
No such sign would ever be placed in a simple box and mailed somewhere, as if it were just like any other object. Present-day instruments are used to detect any unwanted leaks in the glowing objects that are to go atop designated doorways. Moreover, both buyers and sellers must complete all the required paperwork, thus helping to ensure the safety of the entire recycling process.