Radioactive Heirlooms!

Ever inherit something from a family member or have your parents or other family member give you a preset from generations of yesteryear? Well you should be careful, especially if those pieces are glass.

Unbeknownst to many people, many glass pieces produced at the turn of the century to mid century actually use uranium as a colorant, similar to adding iron to glass to give it a greenish hue. The practice began in the 1840’s long before radioactivity was known of and even longer before radioactivity was known to be harmful.

Hit the Jump for photos and more:

Under normal lighting:

Under UV lighting:

Buckley et al (1980) estimated that there were at least 4,160,000 pieces of decorative uranium glass produced in the US between 1958 and 1978 and 15,000 drinking glasses from 1968 to 1972.

The uranium content of Vaseline glass is often on the order of 2 % by weight. Nevertheless, the uranium content of some glass manufactured in the early 1900s, reached as high as 25 %.

Most pieces made after 1959 were made with depleted uranium (DU), and therefore contain a significantly less radioactive form of the metal (although the jury is still out on how bad DU is in close proximity to humans).

Hit the link for radiation exposure rates!!

[Vaseline and Uranium Glass-]