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Radioactive Contamination?
Old 12-15-2007   #1
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Radioactive Contamination?

Hopefully people are going to tell me I'm totally out of my gord. I just got a New Mockba 5 and I'm afraid to use it. Nearly all Russian cameras entered this country post Chernobyl. I know the glass on some of these cameras is naturally radioactive (negligible) but what about any particulate contamination (Cesium 137 etc) that might have occurred? An awful lot of radioactive dust fell on Belarus and the Ukraine. I did a lot of Googling in the last two days, but couldn't find anything on this (which in a sense made feel better).
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Old 12-15-2007   #2
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why don't you just contact the physics department at your local university and ask whether you could have it tested. most assistant profs would gladly help you out just like that, I would assume.
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Old 12-15-2007   #3
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I've wondered this myself...any camera that was "hot" would fog the film though. If you really want to satisfy yourself, find someone with a geiger-counter to check it (most school's physics facilities would have them). Also remember that you don't spend THAT much time near it...although it could be cumulative. Caesium 137 has a relatively short half-life (30 years) so contamination from Chernobyl fallout would be low by now. Caesium hydroxide etches glass so I'd expect a contaminated lens to be useless.
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Old 12-15-2007   #4
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I don't think there is anything to worry about.

See below:

http://cameras.alfredklomp.com/fed5/radiation/
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Old 12-15-2007   #5
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Semushkin-
Great link! I have an Industar 61 and a radiation counter and found the same thing!
I like this Russian saying from the article, "trust, but verify." Maybe we should begin using it instead of "ymmv", you know, "tbv".
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Old 12-15-2007   #6
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[[email protected]]Hopefully people are going to tell me I'm totally out of my gord.

Yes, you are.
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Old 12-15-2007   #7
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Just don't carry the camera around in one of those crotch/fanny packs.
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Old 12-15-2007   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected]
I just got a New Mockba 5 and I'm afraid to use it. Nearly all Russian cameras entered this country post Chernobyl. I know the glass on some of these cameras is naturally radioactive (negligible) but what about any particulate contamination (Cesium 137 etc) that might have occurred? An awful lot of radioactive dust fell on Belarus and the Ukraine.
A couple of notes:

- Even if radioactive dust falls somewhere, it doesn't usually get inside boxes, technical apparatuses etc., let alone glass.

- Even assuming that your camera was standing somewhere on a table in a courtyard in western Belarus on 26 April 1986, things don't really get radioactive if dust falls on them. A camera is not a growing organism where the concentration gradually rises through continuous intake.

- The cloud went west. The portion of the Soviet Union that was contaminated is actually quite small; most went down over northern and central Europe - i.e. here, which is why we stopped collecting mushrooms in Bavaria in 1986. The probability that your camera got contaminated of all things is actually quite small. Kiev, which is right next to Chernobyl in the south-east, took relatively little radiation at all. My wife is from Ukraine, and it gets on her nerves quite a bit that whenever she goes to the doctor because of any ailment the first question is always "how far from Chernobyl did you live". Said doctor here in Germany probably took more radiation than she did.

- There is currently some debate about the dangers of radiation, whether it is actually as dangerous as we have come to think it is, and what about it is actually dangerous. This started from a study of lung cancer rates among workers who had been working at the Mayak reprocessing plant in the Urals between 1948 and 1972, including victims of the 1957 disaster there which is commonly called one of the worst nuclear disasters in history. From 6293 workers 301 had died of cancer, but with all of these except 100 the cancer stemmed from smoking cigarettes. (Here's an article about the study.) This is not to say that radiation isn't dangerous, only that it isn't that dangerous and that it's worth keeping a clear head. There's a lot of hysteria about radiation and not all of it is justified.

So your Moskva should be safe to use. If you wear a mechanical wristwatch you're probably taking more radiation from glow-in-the-dark markings on its hands.

Philipp
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Old 12-15-2007   #9
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Hi Rafriedman,
Around here all of the local firestations are equipped with radiation detectors or Geiger counters as part of their emergency response equipment. You might check with them if you want to verify radiation or the lack thereof.
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Last edited by radiocemetery : 12-15-2007 at 16:57.
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Old 12-15-2007   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected]
Hopefully people are going to tell me I'm totally out of my gord. I just got a New Mockba 5 and I'm afraid to use it. Nearly all Russian cameras entered this country post Chernobyl. I know the glass on some of these cameras is naturally radioactive (negligible) but what about any particulate contamination (Cesium 137 etc) that might have occurred? An awful lot of radioactive dust fell on Belarus and the Ukraine. I did a lot of Googling in the last two days, but couldn't find anything on this (which in a sense made feel better).
You are completely right! All Russia is covered with a foot thick layer of radioactive dust! Moreover, I want to tell ya that I not using screen-light of my mobile handset, because my skin glows in the dark enough to provide good highlight.



P.S. If radioactivity makes your blood creeps, then you should once again re-read Physics learn book from school.
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Old 12-15-2007   #11
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In the early days of wristwatch manufacturing, they used to employ people to paint the glowing dials with actual radium paint.

Many of them would be young girls who would lick their brushes constantly to keep a fine point for detail work.

A great many of them died in agony from throat and mouth cancers.

Don't worry about "radioactive cameras" from Russia. Nonsense.
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Old 12-15-2007   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rxmd
So your Moskva should be safe to use. If you wear a mechanical wristwatch you're probably taking more radiation from glow-in-the-dark markings on its hands.

Philipp
That's not been true for many years - the radium-based paint has long since been discontinued. By the way, my father whose hobby was watch-repairing, always told me off for calling them hands - watches have fingers, clocks have hands. I still cringe for being told off so many times!
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Old 12-15-2007   #13
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I live in a place where the cloud went through. I'm about 500km north-west from Chernobyl and I can't remember any issues of the radiotion at all..

So the probability of a camera still being radioactive should be really low after all these years..

And we don't even know where it was back in a day. If it's not Chernobyl itself, it is safe^^
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Old 12-15-2007   #14
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But what else CAN you remember? LOL. Bad joke.
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Old 12-15-2007   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Permanent
I live in a place where the cloud went through. I'm about 500km north-west from Chernobyl and I can't remember any issues of the radiotion at all..

So the probability of a camera still being radioactive should be really low after all these years..

And we don't even know where it was back in a day. If it's not Chernobyl itself, it is safe^^
Well, I wouldn't be too keen on having a camera that had spent a few years sitting in an empty apartment in Pripyat before being 'found' and sold in a market in Kiev . . .
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Old 12-15-2007   #16
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Heh, I'm just saying that there's nothing to worry about. The shadow of Chernobyl has worn off..

And no, it did not affect my memory in any way^^
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Old 12-16-2007   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected]
Hopefully people are going to tell me I'm totally out of my gord. I just got a New Mockba 5 and I'm afraid to use it. Nearly all Russian cameras entered this country post Chernobyl. I know the glass on some of these cameras is naturally radioactive (negligible) but what about any particulate contamination (Cesium 137 etc) that might have occurred? An awful lot of radioactive dust fell on Belarus and the Ukraine. I did a lot of Googling in the last two days, but couldn't find anything on this (which in a sense made feel better).
Why take the risk? Pack it up and send it to me. I like to live dangerously.
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Old 12-16-2007   #18
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If there is any measurable amount of radioactivity - its from the glass. Rare earth elements were used in some lenses during the 1950's and 60's.

Lanthium or thorium glass wasn't pure lanthium or thorium. They are mostly silicon dioxide and only usually one or two of the glass elements within the lens were made with rare earth elements.

The radiation from such a lens won't fog film under normal usage, but thorium will discolor the glass over time from the gama radiation.

FYI - Cesium 137 is primarily a beta emitter. Small samples are commonly used in introductory physics labs as the radiation is easily deflected by nearby magnetic fields.
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Old 12-18-2007   #19
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After reading Afred's article I got curious and borrowed a Geieger Counter and spot checked randomly cameras in my 200-something Soviet camera collection. I got less radiation from them than the background room radiation... So I guess based on that fact you actually get healthier by using these FSU cameras.
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Old 12-18-2007   #20
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If the price of FSU cameras now zooms upwards we know who to blame - someone will have read the post from USSRPhoto and started buying them up to build fallout shelters from the bodies . . .

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Old 12-18-2007   #21
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It's not really "worn off": all food supplies in Belarus still go through compulsory contamination monitoring, and there are still wide eviction areas southwards, that are likely to stay like that for lifetime of your grandchildren

I would not be concerned about cameras though: post-fallout, food chain is the main possibility of accumulating a doze.
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