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Tritium night sights secondary radiation danger?

This is a discussion on Tritium night sights secondary radiation danger? within the Handgun Accessories forums, part of the Pistol & Revolver Forum category; Okay you radiation experts I've been studying up on tritium specifically in our tritium night sights (for those of you that have them). I've found ...


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Old May 23rd, 2012, 04:54 PM   #1
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Tritium night sights secondary radiation danger?

Okay you radiation experts I've been studying up on tritium specifically in our tritium night sights (for those of you that have them). I've found tritium itself to be fairly safe especially the way it is encapsulated in the night sights. My concern is something called breaking radiation which is similar to xray radiation. This breaking radiation is a secondary radiation from tritium. Here's a video



Another



Does anyone know if this secondary radiation is dangerous?



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Old May 23rd, 2012, 05:33 PM   #2
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You'll get more radiation from walking outside during a sunny day than you will from night sights.
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Old May 23rd, 2012, 05:37 PM   #3
 
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I am retired from radiology. For the short story, in medical terms secondary radiation is the result of the scattering of primary x-rays after interacting with an object, in my case the human body. Can it be dangerous? If you get enough exposure, yes, but medical xrays are controlled and precautions are taken.
Tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen and has very low energy. It has many uses in research and other areas.
Unless your tritium sights are the size of a house and you intend on living there the radiation involved is irrelevant.

The miniscule amount of radiation coming from the tritium would be primary radiation. Any interaction from that primary radiation with another object causing resultant scatter would be secondary radiation.
I have never heard the term "breaking radiation" used in the medical field.
However, I am old and things change. I used to know everything. Not so much anymore.

One more thing; Don't believe everything you see on YouTube.
That rumor that states "if it is on the internet it must be true" is false.
I suppose that also includes this short bit of random prose.

Last edited by gasbag; May 23rd, 2012 at 05:49 PM. Reason: sorry, I have been affected by radiation poisoning
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Old May 23rd, 2012, 05:44 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gasbag View Post
I am retired from radiology. For the short story, in medical terms secondary radiation is the result of the scattering of primary x-rays after interacting with an object, in my case the human body. Can it be dangerous? If you get enough exposure, yes, but medical xrays are controlled and precautions are taken.
Tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen and has very low energy. It has many uses in research and other areas.
Unless your tritium sights are the size of a house and you intend on living there the radiation involved is irrelevant.

The miniscule amount of radiation coming from the tritium would be primary radiation. Any interaction from that primary radiation with another object causing resultant scatter would be secondary radiation.
I have never heard the term "breaking radiation" used in the medical field.
However, I am old and things change. I used to know everything. Not so much anymore.

One more thing; Don't believe everything you see on YouTube.
That rumor that states "if it is on the internet it must be true" is false.
I suppose that also includes this short bit of random prose.
Awesome info, very interesting.
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Old May 23rd, 2012, 06:18 PM   #5
 
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From Wikipedia:

Quote:
While tritium has several different experimentally determined values of its half-life, the National Institute of Standards and Technology lists 4,5008 days (approximately 12.32 years).[1] It decays into helium-3 by beta decay as in this nuclear equation:
3
1T* →* 3
2He1+
* +* e−
* +* ν
e
and it releases 18.6*keV of energy in the process. The electron's kinetic energy varies, with an average of 5.7*keV, while the remaining energy is carried off by the nearly undetectable electron antineutrino. Beta particles from tritium can penetrate only about 6.0*mm of air, and they are incapable of passing through the dead outermost layer of human skin.[2] The unusually low energy released in the tritium beta decay makes the decay (along with that of rhenium-187) an appropriate laboratory for absolute neutrino mass measurements (the most recent experiment being KATRIN).
Tritium is potentially dangerous if inhaled or ingested. It can combine with oxygen to form tritiated water molecules, and those can be absorbed through pores in the skin.


Just don't swallow or injest the sights.

Last edited by RockDoctor; May 23rd, 2012 at 06:21 PM.
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Old May 23rd, 2012, 06:45 PM   #6
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Thanks for the info so far everyone. It's not the initial tritium I have a concern over but the secondary radiation produced from these tests in the videos.
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Old May 24th, 2012, 01:06 PM   #7
 
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Well, one thing I can say is some of those detectors were 3 days older than dirt in terms of radiation detection. (Worked 25+ years in a Nuclear Power Plant). Usually detectors are set on the 10X rather than the 1X since background radiation has such a level as to mislead one during their testing. When the samples were removed on the first video you continued to see the effects of background radiation. An easy fix to your worries would be "Don't buy one of those marker keys and put it into your pocket". Now as far as the tritium sights, the amount of tritium used is very, very, minuscule. That and it's sealed in a glass/aluminum capsule (thicker on the open side, ie. the side you look at) and then cemented into a steel housing (ie. the sight blade itself). You'll see warnings in the literature accompanying the product to send the sight back to the factory if you have any problems, or the light is dim, etc. That's so you don't break the manufacturers first safety rule...."DO NOT remove the tritium capsule from the sight" and "To install the sight assembly by tapping only on the dovetail and NOT the blade". This is so you will not break the containment capsule. Like the other poster, "You'll get more radiation by walking outside on a sunny day". Radiation goes in areas of concern. First being Neutron radiation (coming from the reactor of an operating nuclear power plant). Then Gamma radiation which can come from just stuff. Then Beta radiation and last Alpha radiation. Alpha is so worryless because plain skin/a jacket/cloth can defeat this radiation. Beta can go through skin, but again is defeated very easily. Gamma is another tougher one as this one needs shielding such as lead. Unprotected Gamma radiation can/will go straight through you, nasty stuff and Neutron will kill you. That's why you don't see anyone entering the containment structure of an operating Nuclear Power Plant. The radiation of an unbroken/unaltered tritium sight is fully contained in its capsule which is cemented into a steel housing. Smithy.
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Old May 24th, 2012, 06:47 PM   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brewster View Post
Thanks for the info so far everyone. It's not the initial tritium I have a concern over but the secondary radiation produced from these tests in the videos.
The secondary radiation is what causes the light that you observe. The braking radiation (or bremsstrahlung) that they discuss is of very little concern as far as biological effects at the energy levels and quantities we find in these consumer devices.

In other words, as long as you don't break the vial open and lick it all up, the radiation is of no concern. Even if you did ingest it, the levels are so low that it's a non-issue unless you work where you're monitored for radiation. Even at that, you'd most likely need a bioassy (urine sample) to pick it up and there isn't a significant biological hazard from the tritium.
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Old May 24th, 2012, 08:51 PM   #9
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Okay excellent. You guys make me feel better. I always got to make sure my i's are dotted and T's crossed. Thanks again for all of your great info.
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Old May 24th, 2012, 08:54 PM   #10
 
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I wish I would have seen this thread before I decided to eat a pair of night sights for dinner.
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Old May 31st, 2012, 03:53 PM   #11
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Hey Brewster - OT, But I saw the Ayn Rand quote. One of my favorites. AND of course, I AM John Gult.

Larry
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Old May 31st, 2012, 04:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithy View Post
Well, one thing I can say is some of those detectors were 3 days older than dirt in terms of radiation detection. (Worked 25+ years in a Nuclear Power Plant). Usually detectors are set on the 10X rather than the 1X since background radiation has such a level as to mislead one during their testing.

Snip

Unprotected Gamma radiation can/will go straight through you, nasty stuff and Neutron will kill you. That's why you don't see anyone entering the containment structure of an operating Nuclear Power Plant. The radiation of an unbroken/unaltered tritium sight is fully contained in its capsule which is cemented into a steel housing. Smithy.
Hey Smithy - (tongue firmly in cheek) If the pic is you with the beautiful little girl, You must have stood too close to the fire - it made you old, your hair fell out and your face hair turned Grey - in other words you look a LOT like me! In my case it's just old age.

Congrats on the cutie pie, someday our kid's will get with the program.
PS - if thats a boy, add going blind to my list......

Be Well Pal.
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