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Published on Oct 2, 2008
Tritium glow keyrings, testing with Radex GM counter and its radioluminescence.
TRITIUM - brief info.
Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen with a half-life of 12.32 years. Its nucleus contains 1 proton and 2 neutrons, whereas the nucleus of protium (the most abundant hydrogen isotope) contains only 1 proton. It is a colorless, extremely flammable gas with no smell or taste. Tritium emits low energy negatively charged beta particles (electrons) and decays into a stable (and uncommon) isotope, helium 3, which contains 2 protons and 1 neutron. The beta particles causes the phosphor coating inside a tiny glass vial inside a plastic key-ring to radioluminesce, emitting visible light. The low energy beta particles has only little penetrating power; it is readily absorbed by the phosphor, the glass vial, plus the plastic, and so giving no response with my Geiger counter.
The bleeps heard on my Geiger counter is due to background radiation that consists of cosmic rays and radiation from traces of radioactive substances, such as potassium 40, in the surrounding environment (including me!).