Friday, May 20, 2022

Tritium's "Low Energy" beta release is not "low danger"!

In many conversations with LLNL's former #1 tritium expert (retired), I learned a lot about tritium and wrote extensively about it.

Calling it a "low energy" beta emitter is playing into the pro-nuker's hands and nobody should do that. Oh yes, it *is* "low energy" compared to other beta emitters. Here, in brief, is why that A) doesn't matter, and B) in aggregate, makes things worse.

Beta particles are dangerous because they are charged particles: They have a charge of -1 electron volt.

They do their damage by pushing other negatively charged things away and by pulling positively charged things towards them.

But when first released from the nucleus of an atom, they are moving extremely fast -- fairly near the speed of light.

Imagine a magnet moving that fast past a piece of iron filing. Nothing will happen. But if you move the magnet slowly past iron filings, they'll all move. So it is with beta particles. They do virtually all their damage at the end of their tracks, when they've slowed down sufficiently to be near other charged particles longer.

So ALL beta releases do their damage when they've slowed down significantly. Down well past speeds that they are ALL released at. A single tritium beta release can damage thousands of atoms and molecules, ionizing them and rearranging molecular structures -- basically just like any other beta release. They ALL do all their damage at the end of their tracks.

"LOW ENERGY" is still thousands of times more than the amount of energy in a molecular bond. (See attached chart).

As to B, why tritium is worse "in aggregate", that's simply because one standard method of determining the "danger level" of a radioactive release is to determine the total energy being released. But from tritium, that means many more particles are released compared to something with a "high energy" beta release. So you'll get more damage from more particles for the same total energy release from an aggregate of particles, if measured by total energy being released -- a common way for pro-nukers to minimize the apparent health dangers from tritium, in addition to simply calling it "low energy" as if that makes it safer.

Please look carefully at this energy spectrum chart, which I developed on my own but with enormous assistance from the aforementioned tritium expert.

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

Authorship note: It was the LLNL expert's idea to include energy equivalents: He said these charts never include that, but should. So I did. He wanted it to show why Tritium can be so damaging: Because this so-called "weak" beta emission is thousands of times stronger than a normal chemical bond.

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