Tritium Recycling On The Cheap
Tritium is an isotope of hydrogen. It is radioactive and has a half life of 12.5 years. Tritium is commonly used in the production of tritium exit signs. Tritium recycling is an important aspect of waste disposal as tritium can radiate beta particles into the air if it left exposed.
Exit signs with Tritium
Although tritium exits signs do not pose any risk to public health, but they must be handled with care. If tritium is exposed it will cause radiation in the vicinity. The surrounding area then needs to be cleaned up. Such types of radioactive clean ups tend to be very expensive. The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission has laid down certain regulations on the use, maintenance, and disposal of tritium exit signs.
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One of the most important aspects of tritium recycling is awareness. One must be aware that the exit sign in question is radioactive. Thus tritium exit signs have certain symbols that indicate that they hold radioactive substances. The universal symbol for this purpose is a magenta colored fanlike symbol on a yellow background. An "NRC" sticker also indicates radioactive material. An easier way of identifying tritium exit signs is that they glow only in the dark and appear to be unlit if ambient light is present.
Tritium exit signs must not be thrown into trashcans. They must be shipped off to a tritium recycling plant under the supervision of an officer from Nuclear Regulatory Commission. This is to ensure that the exit sign is handled, transported, and recycled in compliance with the standards laid down by the government. Most manufacturers of tritium exit signs are licensed to accept, ship, and dispose tritium. One can also approach companies which specialize in nuclear waste disposal. These companies are just like other waste disposal companies – the only difference being that they cater only to radioactive waste.
Process of Tritium recycling
Tritium recycling is a complex process and is performed at specialized units designed specifically for the purpose. Tritium radiation is relatively weak and cannot travel far. Thus tritium radiation does not pose too many risks to humans. However, tritium radiation can enter the body in certain cases. The most common case of tritium entering the human body is through inhalation of tritium gas. Thus it is advised to vacate the area in case of a broken tritium light. In addition, all windows must be opened as this facilitates ventilation and ultimately allows the tritium gas to disperse into the atmosphere. This is not good but it is better than tritium gas in its concentrated form. Another way for tritium to enter the human body is through absorption by the skin. Hence, one is always recommended to wear gloves and a mask during handling of a broken tritium exit sign. If tritium enters the body, then internal tissues are exposed to tritium radiation. This can lead to serious problems like genetic modifications, reproductive problems, problems with growth and development etc.
Tritium exit signs are much more reliable, functional, and cost effective than the predecessors –the battery powered exit signs that run on alternate current. It is up to us to handle tritium exit signs with proper care and send them for tritium recycling when they can no longer be used.