Found old rock collection in garage - Am I going to die soon now?

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by Xantos, Apr 4, 2004.

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  1. Xantos Registered Member

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    I was digging through my garage and found an old rock collection that had Uranium and Asbestos in their natural forms. Is this the same stuff that causes cancer and isn't Uranium very radioactive?? Just concerned if I have anything to worry about now that I exposed myself to it.

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    Please advise if their is health risk and what should I do with them now??
     
    Dennis B. Cook likes this.
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  3. Princess Science Dork Registered Senior Member

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    The asbestos is only going to kill you if you grind it up and inhale it. And even then it would take many years of consistently sniffing it to make any real impact.

    As for the uranium, it is radioactive with a half life of 4.4 billion years or so. Even so, I'd say you're probably fine as long as you found a pebble and not a boulder.

    If it's that big of a deal to you, toss it in the trash.
     
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  5. Starthane Xyzth returns occasionally... Valued Senior Member

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    Natural ores of uranium are seldom, if ever, dangerous in their raw state, since the radioactive metal is so diluted by other elements. Only when you refine uranium will it be seriously toxic or harmful at a distance.

    I don't suppose you know if any previous occupant of your house died from a mysterious wasting fever?
     
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  7. curioucity Unbelievable and odd Registered Senior Member

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    Really? How can 'dusts' reduce Uranium's radioactivity (okay, bad word again...)?

    And Princess...... that's a "Let's meet our Maker, Brothers and Sisters!" line........
     
  8. Candide Registered Senior Member

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    correct me if i am wrong (if the answer is not as simple as have assumed it is).

    you don't dig uranium out of the ground like gold, in large nuggets. it's dispersed
    within rock, like many ingredients are in a cake. to separate the uranium out of the rock ore it needs to be refined. if a fist size rock of uranium ore is refined, and the other elements in the ore are sieved away, what's left, albeit potent, is only a fraction of the size. it is therefore proportionally less hazardous than a fist-size amount of refined uranium. quantitatively, it is less radioactive threat. for the same reason rock ore the size of a pebble is less radioactive than rock the size of a boulder.
     
  9. Princess Science Dork Registered Senior Member

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    Let me correct one thing first, gold isn't dug out of the ground in large nuggets. Occassionally gold is found as nuggets in placer deposits in stream beds. Most often gold is found dispersed in veins with other minerals - quartz, etc.

    You are right, uranium is generally dispersed within other rocks, but it's not dangerous until it's been processed and enriched.
     
  10. Candide Registered Senior Member

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  11. Princess Science Dork Registered Senior Member

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  12. Candide Registered Senior Member

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    cheers. epithermal deposits are where the real mining of gold takes place. the placer deposits (which broke off from the epithermal deposits) are for enthusiasts and holiday-makers. mostly.

    thanks for the link. in the earth's crust - i take that to mean your back garden to the gobi desert - uranium exists 2ppm - 2 atoms in every million atoms. to be worth mining, vastly larger concentrations are necessary, preferably in the 1000+ppm. i wonder what the ppm Xanto's sample is and what ppm counts as "dangerously radioactive".
     
  13. Gifted World Wanderer Registered Senior Member

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    The uranium is safe, just wash your hands before eating, it is a heavy metal. Ask Stokes for more info there.

    There are two types of asbestos, one is more dangerous than the rest. Your sample probably isn't that big of a deal, you can put it in a tupperware if you want. Properly done, it's safe, it's just that it was used wrong for decades before people understood the problem. That, and we have better stuff to use for many of the same purposes.

    Unless you smiffed at the samples, ate some, or something else like that, your fine.
     
  14. certified psycho Beware of the Shockie Monkey Registered Senior Member

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    What the hell is Uranium doing in your garage. And also what about asbestos gloves (I think they exist, I heard it from somewhere) what is the deal with that???
     
  15. Princess Science Dork Registered Senior Member

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    Asbestos is a serpentine mineral. It occurs naturally as a fibrous mineral. The main form of asbestos used today is chrysotile. Asbestos is still used in building materials - ceiling tiles, insulation, etc. The problem comes when asbestos is removed because it stirs up the fibers in the air.
     
  16. Dennis B. Cook Registered Member

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    I've been looking for mine for quite a while but can't find it. Do you want to sell yours??
     
  17. origin In a democracy you deserve the leaders you elect. Valued Senior Member

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    Since Xantos only made one post and it was 14 years ago, I would not hold my breath waiting for a response!
     
  18. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Poor guy. I hear he died of some mysterious wasting fever...
     
  19. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    Good plan.
     
  20. wegs With brave wings, she flies . . . Valued Senior Member

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    In this thread, I learn that asbestos isn’t human-made.

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  21. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Yes!

    It's rather interesting. You may be aware that with a lot of crystalline minerals, you can "cleave" them, along certain planes, so that they split cleanly into two. It is due to the alignment of the rows of ions in the crystal. Along certain directions, if you give them a knock so that you displace the atoms a bit, the crystal will fall apart into two parts. It's because normally you have +ve ions next to -ve ions, to maximise the attraction (what we call ionic bonding). If you displace a row of them so that instead you get +ve next +ve, they all of a sudden repel instead of attracting, and the crystal splits.

    Mica is an example of a mineral that cleaves very easily along a plane, allowing it to split into thin sheets. Here is a picture of some so you can see what I mean:

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    Imagine, now, that you have a mineral in which it cleaves as easily as mica, but not just along one plane but along two of them, at right angles. What would you get? Not thin sheets, but thin rods, or even fibres! And that is what asbestos is: a silicate mineral distantly related to mica but which splits very easily along two planes, to form a fibrous mineral.

    Just the sort of thing a creationist would say is ridiculous, no doubt.

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    But rather cool, I think.
     
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  22. Stoniphi obscurely fossiliferous Valued Senior Member

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    Ah...actinolites and tremolites oh my! I have some nice actinolite stones, got rid of all of my asbestos save for a quart jar of powder I keep to repair cracks in kilns. Unfortunately I seem to have misplaced my uranium ore sample....
     
  23. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Well that explains the avatar...
     
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