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Radioactive lift controls recalled in France Answered

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NEW DELHI (AFP) - India's atomic safety body said Thursday that radioactive scrap metal which found its way into buttons installed into lifts in France had been traced back to a western Indian foundry.

At least four Indian firms were involved in the manufacture of the components, an official said, but it was still unclear where the contaminated scrap originated.

"We are tracking back the whole chain," Satya Pal Agarwal, head of the radiological safety division of India's Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, told AFP.

"We are taking steps in each place. Exporters have been advised to buy monitors to check their materials before exporting."

France's Mafelec firm delivered thousands of lift buttons to Otis, a subsidiary of the US elevator company, which installed them in at least 500 lifts in the country over the summer.

Otis has said it is now in the process of removing the buttons, after France's Nuclear Safety Authority announced Tuesday that 20 workers who handled the lift buttons had been exposed to excessive levels of radiation.

The French nuclear safety agency has said the lift buttons contained traces of radioactive Cobalt 60.

AFP article

Steel items imported {into Sweden} from India showing faint traces of radioactivity were found in Sweden, before the same substance was traced on Indian-made lift buttons in France, officials said Wednesday.
The levels of Cobalt 60, a radioactive form of the metal, were considered harmless and the steel components have not been recalled, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) told AFP.
"Dutch customs discovered that a shipment of industrial flanges from India to Sweden showed traces of Cobalt 60," SSM spokesman Mattias Skoeld said.

Focus Agency feed

French elevator maker Otis said it would remove the buttons from hundreds of lifts it has installed after a radioactivity scare over Indian-supplied materials.

The company made the announcement after France's Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) said 20 French workers who had handled buttons used in lifts had been exposed to to excessive levels of radiation.

An Otis spokesman said the firm's plan to remove the buttons "concerned 500 to 600 lifts out of the 2,500 that Otis has installed, modernised or repaired between August 21 and October 9 even if there is no danger for users."

The ASN classed the incident at factory of the Mafelec firm in the east-central French town of Chimilin at "Level Two" on a scale of seven because of the exposure of more than 10 people to doses exceeding the reglementary limit.

SA Times article

32 Replies

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DJ Radio (author)2008-12-29

I shall pwn all..... This would have made more sense before I changed my username....

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KentsOkay (author)DJ Radio2008-12-29

Yup :P Radioactive was cooler, or do like what ure faker did, DJ Radioactive, that would be cool

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KentsOkay (author)DJ Radio2008-12-29

No seriously, I think DJ Radioactive would be a cool name.

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DJ Radio (author)KentsOkay2008-12-29

DJ Radio is a shortened name of DJ Radioactive. Like Chris is to Christopher.

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KentsOkay (author)DJ Radio2008-12-30

Yah but it sounds like radio as in broadcasting music radio.

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Goodhart (author)KentsOkay2008-12-30

radiation is radiation, whether it be radio signals or light from a light bulb (or heat from a stove) :-)

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11010010110 (author)2008-12-29

many years ago here was a batch of ordinary light switches with kinda clusters of transparent dots visible in the white cover plastic. in the dark those dots glowed faintly in green. (not visible unless room is in complete darkness or stimulated with uv)

probably not radioactive and just phosphorescent - but i can imagine some of the reactions to the glowing dots

the batch was made by citor and contained mostly dual switches. they can still be found in some 1983 buildings in israel

i have a 36 W fluorescent fixture with one of the sockets containing similar transparent dots on one half of it. it glows very noticable (way more than the switches). it was made around 1983 too but by ip and not citor

in both the affected parts are made of that white ceramic plastic that stands high temperatures and is hard and easily breakable

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Goodhart (author)110100101102008-12-30

If it was made of the same material that was used in the old days to make analog watch face characters and numbers glow then it WAS radioactive. Most of the radiation in this case could not exit through the watch crystal, but the workers that painted them on......many got cancer etc. I remember hearing about it since Hamilton Watch factory is very local.

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11010010110 (author)Goodhart2008-12-30

here are a switch and socket of the same model (but not same batch) and the glowing fluorescent lamp socket (the onwe that actually glows)

none of them is meant to glow. they glow very dim and can be spotted only in complete darkness. there are some push buttons that are made to glow but are made of very greenish plastic and not white and glow brightly (with som uv stimulation they can light an entire room)

they are made of kinda ceramic plastic. its a hard plastic that does not bend (it breaks - see the corners on the fluorescent lamp socket). it stands high temperatures. at very high temperatures it turns into kinda orange ash and smells awfull but does not melt. the glare on its surface resembles glare from handmade frost glass

in the affected batch of switches the glowing dots are grouped in clusters of varying size and are scattered on the entire cover (but not on the buttons) on the surface and into the depth

in the light socket the entire surface of 2 (of the 3) parts glows. some dots glow more intense. they are scattered evenly thru he surface and into the depth but evenly and not in clusters

the front half and the bit that spins glow and the back does not. in the dark photo i helped it with a blue led to make it visible in the camera. actually it glows in deep green and not blueish and it really looks as if the light comes from its surface (some of the dots glow from within the depth of the material) and not from the ambience

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Goodhart (author)110100101102008-12-30

Yeah the watch dials were actually painted with Radium infused paint, but objects like the Glow in the dark frisbee did not have radium in them and they glowed quite well.....for a few minutes. :-) Does this continue for a long time, or fades in a few minutes?

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11010010110 (author)Goodhart2008-12-30

it fades relatively quickly but in complete darkness you can still see it after many hours. i could see the light socket after a day (stored it in a light proof box to test) but not after 2 days what really interests me is why does it glow and why in form of dots and clusters ? what did get into this plastic and how ? and did it glow more intense back when it was new ?

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Goodhart (author)110100101102008-12-30

That is intriguing.....I remember a not so related circumstance where I had painted the top of a light bulb, with several chemicals like those used in the water to signal a boat in distress, etc. and although they did not glow in the dark on their own, when combined and heated by the bulb, one night the\ bulb glowed so eerily I though something was inhabiting the light bulb. I was a weird yellowish glow however, much like some old tv's have (albeit this is normally greenish) after turning off in complete darkness.

It might be a rouge reaction of some sort making the phosphorescence.

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11010010110 (author)Goodhart2008-12-30
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Goodhart (author)110100101102008-12-30

It was over 30 years ago.... I wish I had recorded what I had put on the bulb....but lots of the stuff was scrounged from abandoned boats and such....first aid kits, emergency beacon kits, etc.

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11010010110 (author)Goodhart2008-12-30

what was it meant to be ?

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Goodhart (author)110100101102008-12-30

It was, to me, a pretty albeit weird looking yellow, so I was just coloring the bulb :-)

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11010010110 (author)Goodhart2008-12-30

lol and what can it be with the switches here ?

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Goodhart (author)110100101102008-12-30

I am not sure if it is a bio-phosphorescence within the plastic unlikely or if there is a genuine cold light reaction going on. Something is obviously capturing and later emitting the light. it is doesn't appear to be that it was intentional.

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11010010110 (author)Goodhart2008-12-30

what a cold light reaction is ?

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Goodhart (author)110100101102008-12-30

Well, like the one in a "night-time" glow-in-the-dark frisbee. It gives off no heat, in other words. Some fungi do this, but that is a bio-phosphorescence (as is the lightning bug or the glow worm.

The first picture below shows one held in the hand....while the second one shows it in normal day light.

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11010010110 (author)Goodhart2008-12-30

here its green phosphor aint it ?

what materials might glow in the switch ? what ceramic plastic is made of ?

can bio phosphorescence be charged by uv or photo flash ?

ps a photo flash from close distance makes alot of stuff glow in unreal intensity

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Goodhart (author)110100101102008-12-30

I haven't tested any of that, so I am not sure.

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kelseymh (author)2008-12-29

I wonder if they used Fallout Boy for the elevator music?

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Kiteman (author)kelseymh2008-12-29

Looks like GH has hacked kelseymh's account...

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kelseymh (author)Kiteman2008-12-29

Bite your tongue! I'm fully capable of holding my own in a humor call it what you will competition with Goodhart :-)

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Goodhart (author)kelseymh2008-12-30
Here are the specially cloned mascots :-)


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Goodhart (author)Kiteman2008-12-30

*chuckle* it is nice to know I can inspire the youth, even in my declining years LOL

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GorillazMiko (author)2008-10-23

Wait for "DJ Radio"'s comment..

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DJ Radio (author)GorillazMiko2008-12-29

which is waaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyy late considering I do not look into the "offbeat" forum

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Lithium Rain (author)2008-10-23

You know it's bad when you might not even be able to press the elevator button without being irradiated...

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