CSUN Offering Free Testing for Radioactivity

 Jerry Stinner

CSUN College of Science and Math Dean Jerry Stinner observing two students measuring uranium levels in his office. Photo provided by professor Duane Doty.

Concerned the ceramics you picked up at the local thrift shop or the antique glassware passed down for generations in your family are radioactive? Bring it in to be tested during California State University, Norhridge’s Department of Physics and Astronomy’s annual Nuclear Physics Laboratory Open House.

Members of the community and CSUN faculty and staff are invited to bring their items to Live Oak Hall Room 1-100 between 3 and 4 p.m., Thursday, March 5, 12 and 19 to be tested for free. Students will be using alpha, beta and gamma spectrometers to measure for radiation.

“People are excited and worried about radiation contamination,” said Duane Doty, a nuclear physics professor in the department who overseas the project. “This is a great way to give students real life experience working with materials and educate the public.”

The laboratory has been operating for more than 25 years. Physics students have conducted tests on numerous items, including rocks, smoke detectors, old plates and glassware. Based on the tests, they are able to tell how dangerous the objects are and quantify them to create a safer surrounding.

Doty said some of the products in a home that may contain radioactivity, but are not hazardous to anyone’s health, include smoke detectors, some foods and fertilizers. Individuals also receive low-doses of radiation when they have an X-ray. However, there are more dangerous levels of radiation in materials used to construct homes like brick and in collectible pottery and ceramics.

For more information or questions, contact professor Duane Doty at ddoty@csun.edu or call (818) 677-3362.