RE: uranyl nitrate

From:"Monson, Frederick C."

Whenever one has a question about a compound whose name generates questions
of safety - especially radiation safety - you should remember that the laws
governing shipping across state lines or by common carrier or postal
shipping are VERY fierce.

To get a proper handle, one should ALWAYS have at hand

	1.  a copy of the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, CRC Press

	2.  a copy of the Merck Index, Merck and Co.

Something like uranium should be reviewed for isotope information so that
questions can be framed with some hope of getting intelligible responses.
Finally, the Merck Index as already mentioned is a great provider of
information about toxic effects.

Every lab should have a shelf of books on safety that includes information
that is pertinent to the materials handled in the laboratory.  Every new
chemical should be accompanied by a MSDS ([not always very helpful unless
you are given a truck load!].

Finally, become familiar with the web sites that concentrate on chemical and
workplace safety.  In a large lab, a PC can be set aside with updated links
to such sites (they do change, and new ones appear constantly).

Uranium 238 (99.2+% of natural U), Half Life = 4.51 x 10^9 years, Decay
energy = 4.268 MeV
Uranium isotopes run from U227 to U240 (atomic masses), and all have an
atomic number of 92.  

There is ONLY one safe way to work with Uranium salts.  Put any sample of
Uranium material (dry or solution) in front of a calibrated Geiger counter
(or a scintillation detector) to satisfy any curiosity about its possible
radioactivity.  If the material is radioactively safe, then the counter
should tell you.  There should be such a device in every hospital, and in
every university or corporation in which research with high-energy particles
is carried out.  That is, it is unlikely that, except for private labs there
should be such devices almost everywhere.  There are small counters that
will detect Radon and stronger sources that can be purchased and require
only annual calibration to remain useful.  

Please understand.  I have had Uranium salts in my lab for years.  As I have
followed the growth of NRC regulations over the years, I have only felt
obligated to test samples of Uranium salts that have come my way when they
are older than the current obligatory rules.

Uranium is toxic on its own merits, not merely because it can also be quite
radioactive, at least as I understand the matter.

Hope this helps,

Fred Monson

Frederick C. Monson, PhD   
Center for Advanced Scientific Imaging
Schmucker II Science Center
West Chester University
South Church Street and Rosedale
West Chester, Pennsylvania, USA, 19383
Phone:  610-738-0437
FAX:  610-738-0437
Visitors URL:

> ----------
> From: 	Linda Smith
> Sent: 	Monday, July 15, 2002 11:13 AM
> To: 	<"Histonet (E-mail)"
> Subject: 	uranyl nitrate
> I need some help with a safety issue concerning 1% aqueous uranyl nitrate
> used in a Steiner stain.  Does any one have any documentation from any
> regulatory agency on it's safety and use in the lab?
> Our safety people want to post radiation signs all over the place and send
> everyone to radiation safety training.
> Thanks in advance.
> Linda Smith, HT (ASCP)
> Department of Pathology
> Children's Medical Center
> Dayton, Ohio
> (937) 641-3358

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