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  • Sarah A Band

it's RADIOACTIVE!


I feel like radiation gets blamed for everything.



Or at least in superheroes… which seems strange. But did you know that glass and radiation are often connected?



All glassblowers have superpowers!




Yeah… I wish

But really, uranium is used in glassmaking! But how you ask? Well as with everything toxic it's in the pursuit of beauty.


To make different colors in glass companies add different metal oxides, sort of like paint but on fire! To make beautiful lemon-lime colored glass companies add, you guessed it, Uranium! They add it in its oxide form and before melting it in a furnace. The proportion usually varies from trace levels to about 2%, although some 20th-century pieces were made with up to 25% uranium!

It’s often called Vaseline glass or atomic glass and was invented in the 1800s but really grew in popularity in the 1880s. It wasn’t banned until WW2, I guess because they wanted the uranium...? This glass even glows under black light! I’ve seen pieces displayed in museums next to a Geiger counter to detect any radiation. Anything for beauty, am I right?!






Scientists are also adding radioactive material into glass.



Glass is an inert material which is why it is perfect for beakers and test tubes; it’s not interacting with anything! Scientists have started encasing radioactive waste in glass! It seems by doing this the amount of material that leaks out over time is a lot lower than other methods. Even if it cracks!





I have always found myself drawn to the chemistry side of glass blowing. What oxides make different colors, and what type of atmosphere create different reductions. This is definitely a topic I find fascinating I hope to make work about in the future. I just need to think of something that doesn't involve making it radioactive!




Resources: Check them out!


Live Science- Radioactive Waste Trapped in Glass


Eureka Alert- Nuclear Waste in Glass Waste


Science Direct- Nuclear Waste Glass


Collectors WEekly- These People Love to Collect Radioactive Glass


EPA Radioactivty in Antiques





© 2020 by Sarah Band.    contact: sarahaband@gmail.com

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