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> old aviation instruments - any danger ?
Vranceanu
Posted: April 30, 2014 12:36 am
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I recently read that aircraft instruments, since the 60's, were painted (dials, numbers, etc) with something based on radium, so it's a danger of iradiation if the glass is broken. Do you know more about this ?

For example, here:

http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.p...ft-instruments/

This post has been edited by Vranceanu on April 30, 2014 12:37 am
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Florin
Posted: April 30, 2014 01:53 am
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QUOTE (Vranceanu @ April 29, 2014 07:36 pm)
I recently read that aircraft instruments, since the 60's, were painted (dials, numbers, etc) with something based on radium, so it's a danger of iradiation if the glass is broken. Do you know more about this ?

For example, here:

http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.p...ft-instruments/

It was common technology for magnetic compass as well.
That radiation would pass through glass as well. It does not make much difference if the glass is broken or not.

I think correct in your text would be is "until the 1960's", not "since the 1960's".
There was at least one topic in forum about radiation. Reminder: the most dangerous radioactive elements are those with short division time.
These objects are already 55 years old or more. Also, the quantity applied on graphic indicators is very small. The radiation effect decreases with the square of the distance.
I think you should not worry too much: you are not sleeping every night with 5 of them on your pillow.
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Radub
Posted: April 30, 2014 08:08 am
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Aviation instruments were usually marked with luminescent paint as standard http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luminous_paint
Also read this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radium_Girls
All WW2 instruments and even watches were decorated with such "glow-in-the-dark" paint. This is radioactive but in very small amounts and routine exposure to it will not automatically lead to health problems. For example, we still have with us pilots who flew regularly in this environment in WW2 (and after). I have some WW2 instruments that still glow in the dark or when exposed to UV light.
In many museums, exhibits that feature such instruments have a discrete symbol next to the "offending" instruments (a small sticker or tag with the "radioactive" symbol). I know of one restoration center where they have original spares (in their boxes) WW2 instruments and the instruments with radioactive luminous paint are stored on a separate rack with a warning sign, but when required for the restoration they are used without exception. This is just due to normal "health and safety" legislation that require the display of warnings for any potential hazards. Such legislation also requires the placement of signs that warn about danger of electric shock, falls, slipping, snags/pinches/crushing, caustic/toxic materials, drowning, wild animals, etc, but one must keep in mind that such signs are nothing more than "danger warnings" and invitation to caution rather than "predictions" or "curses". ;-)
The truth is that this is nothing new. I recall that in the eighties when I got my first watch (it was an old Poljot) my uncle told me that it had "radioactive paint". I still have it. Many people knew that such paint was radioactive for many years. In fact watch or instrument manufacturers knew from the very beginning that such paint was faintly radioactive - they used Radium, which everyone knew was radioactive. Manufacturers did not do it because they were evil, it was simply the only way to obtain that effect. Same was the case with lead-based paint. People lived long and fruitful lives with such hazards in their vicinity.
The article linked above is about a place where such instruments were disposed of, which led to an unusually high concentration and amount of such material. Normal exposure to the small amounts of radiation contained in one cockpit is significantly less harmful.
Radu

This post has been edited by Radub on April 30, 2014 08:09 am
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Vranceanu
Posted: April 30, 2014 01:23 pm
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Thank you both of your answers. (Yes, I wanted to write "untill 60's, my bad english...) I have not such instruments but I found on ebay with 10 euros and the price seemed to me very fair, but after I renounced because this problem of irradiation. But indeed, it seems this is not important, there are pilots who lived 100 years ans they flew many years with such instruments.
Anyway, this problem is interesting. :)
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Florin
Posted: April 30, 2014 03:18 pm
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QUOTE (Vranceanu @ April 30, 2014 08:23 am)
Thank you both of your answers. (Yes, I wanted to write "untill 60's, my bad english...) I have not such instruments but I found on ebay with 10 euros and the price seemed to me very fair, but after I renounced because this problem of irradiation. But indeed, it seems this is not important, there are pilots who lived 100 years ans they flew many years with such instruments.
Anyway, this problem is interesting. :)

If the instruments you are looking to buy have a permanent magnet as their "heart", some demagnetization may have occurred, but overall they should be functional and reasonably accurate.
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Vranceanu
Posted: April 30, 2014 08:14 pm
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QUOTE (Florin @ April 30, 2014 03:18 pm)
QUOTE (Vranceanu @ April 30, 2014 08:23 am)
Thank you both of your answers. (Yes, I wanted to write "untill 60's, my bad english...) I have not such instruments but I found on ebay with 10 euros and the price seemed to me very fair, but after I renounced because this problem of irradiation. But indeed, it seems this is not important, there are pilots who lived 100 years ans they flew many years with such instruments.
Anyway, this problem is interesting.    :)

If the instruments you are looking to buy have a permanent magnet as their "heart", some demagnetization may have occurred, but overall they should be functional and reasonably accurate.

Thank you !
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