eli5 Radioactive products?


Do any products that were made in 1986 or 87 and shipped globally after the Chernobyl accident contain any trace nuclear material or radiation?

In: 1

Anything that was made after we started detonating test nukes in the 40s contains trace nuclear material.

There’s some super sensitive scientific equipment where manufacturing it needs to use recycled metal made before then because everything made after that is slightly contaminated.

Even steel that was made after 1945 contains a bit of radiation because of the explosions of the Trinity Test, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Steel from before then is highly sought after for example for some medical equipment where there should be as little background radiation as possible.

So yes, most likely, there are still some things whose current radioactivity would be from the Chernobyl accident.

But don´t worry. A little bit of radiation isn´t dangerous to humans. Even right now, while you breath, for example, you take in radioactive material in form of “C-14”.

All material is radioactive. That’s not hyperbole. So everything has “trace” radioactive characteristics.

Hence the banana scale for radioactivity.

The points of concern are typically about how much is getting into you. The worst “common infiltrate” is inhalation of tiny particles of dust. The lungs are dead ends compared to the through-path of the digestive tract.

Some of the most problematic trace radioactive materials from history are like uranium glaze pottery from the thirties.

The largest consumer product radiation concerns on the market today are those “energy bracelets” and “ionic pendants. They are the new age return of “energy means health” woo. The are deliberately concentrated chunks of radioactive metals that you can just get online as “health accessories”,

So while there’s a real uptick of things like cobalt in everything since the atomic detonation tests began the actual pound of concern are deliberately unsafe manufacture rather than incidental taxes.

I remember back in 80s when I was a kid and this happened to see trucks backed up in the inner-German border because they and their cargo was to radioactive to be allowed to pass westwards.

They told us not to eat anything from our own gardens that season.

Farmers were demanding money from the government about missed harvests and all sorts of other things like that.

I have no idea how much of that was overreaction, but there was at lest enough radioactivity reaching western Europe to prompt those overreaction.