Coal Ash Radioactive

General energy and coal related topics, news and basic information. If you do not know where to post your topic post it here.
Post Reply
OBI307
Member
Posts: 41
Joined: Wed. Feb. 03, 2010 2:44 pm
Stove/Furnace Make: Keystoker Hearth 90
Location: Moscow PA

Post Mon. Feb. 28, 2011 5:28 pm

Anyone else ever heard of coal ash being radioactive? How much does it take? Is it only in coal burning power plants?

User avatar
CoalHeat
Site Moderator
Posts: 8327
Joined: Sat. Feb. 10, 2007 9:48 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: 1959 EFM 350
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Magnafire Mark I
Baseburners & Antiques: Sears Signal Oak 15 & Andes Kitchen Range
Coal Size/Type: Rice and Chestnut
Other Heating: Fisher Fireplace Insert
Location: Stillwater, New Jersey

Post Mon. Feb. 28, 2011 6:14 pm

And here I thought that warm glow was from the fire...
Fossil Fuel Survialist Guide for the Sane
Heating a circa 1832 farmhouse with a Harman Magnafire Mark I & a 1959 EFM 350 (heating DHW).
100% Oil Free!
"It's what we learn after we think we know it all that counts."

User avatar
Richard S.
Mayor
Posts: 12709
Joined: Fri. Oct. 01, 2004 8:35 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite
Location: NEPA

Post Mon. Feb. 28, 2011 7:03 pm

OBI307 wrote:Anyone else ever heard of coal ash being radioactive?
Yes it is, so is dirt.

This is one of those things where people read something and don't fully understand what they are reading and it's hard to blame them when you have people with an agenda. Firstly a respected scientific publication published an article with the headline "Coal Ash Is More Radioactive than Nuclear Waste". :shock: This made it's way around various websites specifically environmental ones when it was published. Too many nitwits never took the time to actually read it and just kept repeating the title.

They should be ashamed of themselves for publishing it with that title. If you read the article all the way to the end what you'll find is the most important sentence in the entire article. An addendum I might add that was added a full year after it's publication.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id= ... lear-waste

As a general clarification, ounce for ounce, coal ash released from a power plant delivers more radiation than nuclear waste shielded via water or dry cask storage.
What they are comparing it to is highly regulated nuclear waste in a facility meant to contain it. In other words the articles title could have read "Dirt more radioactive than nuclear waste". While this is true in this context it's hardly an honest title.

If you want to get into specifics coal ash has slightly higher levels of radiation that granite which of course is used for kitchen countertops. Exposure to radiation from coal ash for the average person in the US is listed in the pie chart under the 1% slice "other".

Image
"The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits."

- Albert Einstein


User avatar
I'm On Fire
Member
Posts: 3920
Joined: Thu. Jun. 10, 2010 9:34 am
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machines DS-1600 Hot Air Circulator
Location: Vernon, New Jersey

Post Mon. Feb. 28, 2011 9:39 pm

So is the human body.

The human body contains Potassium. Potassium-40 is radioactive. The human body has about 35 milligrams of Potassium-40.

Potassium-40's half-life? Approximately 1 billion years.

Never mind the fact that we create our own gamma rays based off of this Potassium.

Oh, yeah we also have Carbon-14 in us as well...its radioactive too.

Oh, if you have a smoke detector in your house. Chances are its an Ion Detector. Guess what, that smoke detector is radioactive (Americium-241). Americium-241 will kill you, but then again so can a Ham Sandwich. Take it down, read the back of it. It should say something like, "Send back to manufacturer for repairs." it'll also have a little radioactive symbol somewhere on it. You send it back to the manufacturer because they are the only ones who can properly dispose of it. But guess where 99% of Americans send their old smoke detectors? America's Landfills. There is a reason why all the smoke detectors in your home have a "Replace By" date, usually, the radioactive element in it is at the end of it's half-life which would change the sensitivity of the device. Rendering it virtually useless in a fire. It could go off too early, or not at all. (Don't worry, you aren't exposed to enough Americium-241 to pose any significant threat to you.)

We are surrounded by things that can kill us.

Please excuse me. I need to climb back into my protective plastic bubble which is made by Dupont, a company that has poisoned thousands if not millions of people within the United States. Glowing Trees in Wayne, NJ?

User avatar
Machinist
Member
Posts: 137
Joined: Sat. May. 17, 2008 5:48 pm
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KAA-2
Coal Size/Type: Rice
Other Heating: None
Location: Telford, PA

Post Tue. Mar. 01, 2011 9:59 am

I keep a http://www.nukalert.com/ on me all the time. It will start chirping at level of radiation that is considered harmful with 30 days exposure. It has never alarmed while around anthracite coal or anthracite coal ash.

I bought the nukalert wondering if imported metals that I work with might be radioactive. So far none have in the 5 or so years I've been carrying it.

I have been thinking of building a sensitive Geiger counter just for fun. What types of radiation might be in anthracite coal? I know where I can buy geiger tubes that detect beta and gamma radiation.
Mike

Post Reply

Return to “Coal News & General Coal Discussions”