Military Aviation A forum for the professionals who fly military hardware. Also for the backroom boys and girls who support the flying and maintain the equipment, and without whom nothing would ever leave the ground. All armies, navies and air forces of the world equally welcome here.

Watch Out!!

Reply

Old 15th Jun 2018, 05:29
  #1 (permalink)  
Ecce Homo! Loquitur...
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Brighton
Age: 64
Posts: 9,140
Watch Out!!

The Times: Radiation alert for glow-in-dark war watches

Families keeping Second World War wristwatches as mementos could be at “serious risk” of cancer because of the radiation they emit, according to research.

Collectors or families storing wristwatches from the 1920s to 1960s which used radon-based paints to make their dials glow in the dark could be absorbing dangerous doses of radiation.

Scientists from the University of Northampton and Kingston University have carried out the first work to determine just how harmful radioluminescent paint is when kept in the home. Radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths after smoking.

Scientists found a collection of 30 antique radium-dial watches gave rise to radon concentrations 134 times greater than the UK’s recommended “safe” level when kept in a space the size of a typical box room. Three of the watches in poor condition individually produced radon concentrations — when kept in the same poorly ventilated room — well over the threshold where Public Health England would recommend treatment.

The authors, Dr Robin Crockett, of the University of Northampton, and Professor Gavin Gillmore, of Kingston University, warn these levels are high enough to be dangerous even in much larger spaces, such as whole houses. Dr Crockett said: “These results show that the radon emitted from individual watches can potentially pose a serious cancer risk. This is of concern because in addition to military watches being particularly prized by collectors, many individual radium-dial watches are kept as mementoes by ex-servicemen and their descendants.

“They have the potential to pose a significant health hazard to themselves and their families. Smokers are particularly at risk.”
ORAC is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old 15th Jun 2018, 07:42
  #2 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 3,929
Oh Dear! All that time I spent in front of luminous cockpit instruments and wearing a luminous watch: I should have been dead years ago.
Fareastdriver is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old 15th Jun 2018, 07:52
  #3 (permalink)  

Evertonian
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: #3117# Ppruner of the Year Nominee 2005
Posts: 9,034
Cheers ORAC. Your concern for fellow Prooners gives me a nice, warm glow...

Buster Hyman is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 15th Jun 2018, 10:44
  #4 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: AndyCappLand
Age: 96
Posts: 7,307
FED (#2),

You and me both ! I'm sitting propped up in bed with a luminous clock 18 in each side of me. Pushing 97 (not out). I'll take my chances !

Danny.
Danny42C is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 15th Jun 2018, 11:20
  #5 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Hanging off the end of a thread
Posts: 14,042
Remember the Trim phone with the glow in the dark dial, these were radioactive but were shown to not cause a problem, well until concerns were raised and BT withdrew them, a dial on it's own was safe, but they removed them and put them all together, all 2000,000 of them, then they had a problem

Radiation
NutLoose is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old 15th Jun 2018, 11:47
  #6 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Japan
Age: 66
Posts: 202
I used to wear my father's WWII issue watch to school. In one physics demonstration, the teacher used tweezers to remove a radioactive sample from its protective box and pass a geiger counter over it. It gave a reading. He asked for volunteers and I handed over father's watch for testing. The geiger counter went off-scale. Oops.

No sign of wrist cancer so far, and I'm not planning on dying of it. Cheers.
Yamagata ken is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 15th Jun 2018, 11:56
  #7 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 3,929
Wink

After spending some considerable time with a lapful of luminous instruments then certain possibilities could arise.

My father flew continuously from !941 until 1955 including some ten years on the Halifax where there was a full house of instruments in front of him. Whilst sitting in a cockpit one of the nearest soft body organs is the prostate. My father succumbed to that in 1997. I flew from 1960 until 1981 aircraft with either full or partial luminous instruments. I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2002 but luckily it was at an early stage and was effectively cured.

One wonders whether the two are connected.

Should the two be connected then it was all the Air Forces fault. Ignorance of the effects at the time is no excuse as has been demonstrated by other occasions, Christmas Island, Gulf War Syndrome etc.. It could be a case for those ex pilots, flight engineers and navigators having a case to claim compensation for the stress and suffering from this disease.

Any litigation lawyers reading this?
Fareastdriver is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old 15th Jun 2018, 12:18
  #8 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: London
Posts: 6,795
Like living in Cornwall - it's all a matter of ventilation....

if you wear the watch you're waving it around (unless you are comatose under the bar table) so the radon constantly disperses
Heathrow Harry is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 15th Jun 2018, 12:53
  #9 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Middle America
Age: 78
Posts: 1,102
There is a book by the title, Radon Girls. These were the painters of the watch faces. Most all died of cancer...
Turbine D is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 15th Jun 2018, 12:56
  #10 (permalink)  
I don't own this space under my name. I should have leased it while I still could
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Lincolnshire
Age: 75
Posts: 15,445
As mention, instruments also have radium paint and many aircraft instruments find their way into private hands. The BBMF hangar used to have a cordoned area for old instruments.

Aircrew watches of the 60s and 70s used to have a T on the face denoting Tritium.
Pontius Navigator is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 15th Jun 2018, 13:13
  #11 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 3,929
He asked for volunteers and I handed over father's watch for testing. The geiger counter went off-scale.
In the fifties my father, a friend of his and I used to charge around the Rhodesian bush with a Geiger counter looking for the new instant riches, uranium. The part of Matabeleland we were exploring had a fair smattering of old gold mine shafts and pits which we would explore with said instrument.
We came upon a vertical shaft with the rotting remains of a ladder attachment on the side. I declined the invitation to use the ladder so we lowered the Geiger counter on a rope and it went berserk when it reached the bottom.
I was now ordered to descend which I did by hanging on to various bits sticking out of the shaft supported by a rope and harness.

The bottom was dark so I pulled my torch out and flashed it around to come upon a skeleton lying on the floor with the counter by its watch hand.
Levitating myself to the top again we decided that the best thing we could do was to report the occurrence to the police.

They came along and recovered the remains but they never established whom the male person was. We did however go to his funeral to give him a bit of a send off.
Fareastdriver is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old 15th Jun 2018, 13:20
  #12 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Scotland
Age: 69
Posts: 63


I remember back in 1972 when I was working in the Armoury / SSA going round a 1066 Hastings with O/C Armoury measuring the radiation off of the various luminescent bits. Don’t think anything came of the readings but it took a further 25+ years before these started appearing in Museum Aircraft.
morton is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 15th Jun 2018, 15:51
  #13 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Lincolnshire
Age: 77
Posts: 160
Back in the 60's one of my duties was to be part of a six man "Special Safety Team"., that would get shipped out if there was a crash involving a Nuclear Weapon. We would regularly practice doing "sweeps" with a Geiger Counter & a radioactive isotope, which would be hidden in long grass. On one practice sessions, while waiting for the isotope to be hidden, I took off the Omega aircrew watch that I was issued with & was amazed to find that it was radiating more than ten times the practice isotope !!

I have worn the watch on & off for the past 50 years. I glow in the dark a bit, but no other problems.
VIProds is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 15th Jun 2018, 18:09
  #14 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Uranus
Posts: 302
Like this??


Even accounting for the decay this is a lot of radiation, also old camera lenses with Thorium?
Shaft109 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 15th Jun 2018, 19:13
  #15 (permalink)  

Gentleman Aviator
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Teetering Towers - somewhere in the Shires
Posts: 3,249
There is a book by the title, Radon Girls. These were the painters of the watch faces. Most all died of cancer...
That's Radium Girls, or at least that's the UK title.

Not quite comparable to "normal" use. These poor girls were told to "sharpen" the point of their paintbrushes by licking them, and they painted scores if not hundreds od watches per day.

And the company not only refused to support them, but actively lied about them, including the implication that one of the girls had died of tertiary syphillis .......... when it was always bone cancer, starting - funny old thing - in the jaw.

Whatever the book is called, it's a cracking good read (author Kate Moore). But so little was known about radioactivity in them days .... the girls would also sometimes paint their teeth to give a "brilliant" smile on dates .........
teeteringhead is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 15th Jun 2018, 19:20
  #16 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: UK
Posts: 344
My father spent 20 plus years flying aircraft with 'radio active' dials. Also wore an aircrew watch with a large luminous dial for 30 plus years.
He died of old age - not cancer or radiation poisoning!!!
Compass Call is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 15th Jun 2018, 19:24
  #17 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: UkK
Posts: 23
There's an area of Smiths Industries in Cheltenham that can't be built on due to their war time work with the dials and it's contaminated.
BirdmanBerry is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 15th Jun 2018, 19:30
  #18 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: River Thames & Surrey
Age: 69
Posts: 288
Originally Posted by Yamagata ken View Post
I used to wear my father's WWII issue watch to school. In one physics demonstration, the teacher used tweezers to remove a radioactive sample from its protective box and pass a geiger counter over it. It gave a reading. He asked for volunteers and I handed over father's watch for testing. The geiger counter went off-scale. Oops.

No sign of wrist cancer so far, and I'm not planning on dying of it. Cheers.
I had a luminous watch from about 1960 to 1966. I was often getting a strange bruise on my wrist and thought it was just the watch rubbing against the skin, until we did a school vist to Bradwell Bay nuclear power station. Here we were scanned on leaving the reactor room and my watch gave a reading which set off an alarm!
I realised what was probably causing the 'bruise' then!
chevvron is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old 15th Jun 2018, 20:12
  #19 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: on the ground
Posts: 108
Originally Posted by Yamagata ken View Post
I used to wear my father's WWII issue watch to school. In one physics demonstration, the teacher used tweezers to remove a radioactive sample from its protective box and pass a geiger counter over it. It gave a reading. He asked for volunteers and I handed over father's watch for testing. The geiger counter went off-scale. Oops.
Similar experience in 1975, a friend's watch produced an impressive response from the geiger counter. He stopped wearing it after that!
The hazard described here is not so much direct radiation at the wrist as radon released into the air indoors.
nonsense is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 15th Jun 2018, 20:14
  #20 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 3,929
I realised what was probably causing the 'bruise' then!
Probably skin sensitivity to the metal on the watch back.. The full leather backing strap with its protective layer was all the rage then.
Fareastdriver is online now  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service