Radioactivity

Charles Curley charlescurley at charlescurley.com
Thu Feb 22 08:32:26 MST 2007


On Thu, Feb 22, 2007 at 07:38:23AM -0700, Daniel C. wrote:
> On 2/21/07, Ryan Byrd <ryanbyrd at gmail.com> wrote:
> >Cougars might be slightly more radioactive than Wolverines. Here's why:
> >there used to be a nuclear reactor on BYU campus and I was told that some
> >buildings still have higher than average background radiation. Rumor has
> >that the walls in the Widtsoe Building in particular make a Geiger counter
> >go crazy.
> 
> Okay, question.  I have always been under the impression that being
> exposed to radiation does not make you radioactive, just like being
> exposed to light doesn't make you glow.  Is this true?

Well, you're already radioactive. But being exposed to enough
radiation can increase your own radiation. That's in addition to the
other damage that radiation can cause. For most people, most of the
time, it isn't an issue. If the old BYU reactor was properly run and
cleaned up, it shouldn't be an issue. I've never heard of anyone
refusing to play squash at the University of Chicago.

I had a friend who worked as a safety instructor at a nuclear powered
generator. He says that their standards are so strict that if you
bring a yellow ceramic plate on site, you can't bring it off
again. Reason: the yellow glaze is made with uranium, and it is
radioactive enough to hit the NRC standards. People have been using
uranium glazes for thousands of years. I have yet to hear of anyone
claiming that their yellow dinner set has caused cancer or the like.

If you want to research the issue, try reading up on Wikipedia.

-- 

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