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n the video above, viewers can watch as a Geiger Counter measures radiation from a Cobalt 60 source. Putting glass, aluminum and even lead sheets in between the Cobalt 60 and the detector makes no difference, as the Gamma radiation passes through all of them. This is what makes Gamma radiation so dangerous. It takes a very dense, very thick layer of lead (many feet thick) to stop Gamma radiation. Imagine what a particle of Gamma radiation will do INSIDE the human body, if this is the power it has OUTSIDE the human body.
According to Wikipedia; “Cobalt-60, 60Co, is a synthetic radioactive isotope of cobaltwith a half-life of 5.27 years. It is produced artificially by neutron activation of the isotope59Co. 60Co decays by beta decay to the stable isotope nickel-60 (60Ni). The activated nickel nucleus emits two gamma rays with energies of 1.17 and 1.33 MeV, hence the overall nuclear equation of the reaction is
27Co + n → 60
27Co → 60
28Ni + e− + gamma rays.
Corresponding to its half-life the radioactive activity of one gram of 60Co is 44 TBq(about 1100curies). The absorbed dose constant is related to the decay energy and time. For 60Co it is equal to 0.35 mSv/(GBq h) at one meter from the source. This allows calculation of the equivalent dose, which depends on distance and activity.
Example: a 60Co source with an activity of 2.8 GBq, which is equivalent to 60 µg of pure 60Co, generates a dose of 1 mSv in one meter distance within one hour. The swallowing of 60Co reduces the distance to a few millimeters, and the same dose is achieved within seconds. (Inhaling or ingesting ANY radioactive materials makes them MUCH MORE DANGEROUS and increases the speed of a LETHAL or cancer causing dose, with even small particles that would not be lethal if exterior to the body.)
The high γ-energies result in a significant mass difference between 60Ni and 60Co of 0.003 u. The short lifetime contributes further to the high decay energy. This amounts to nearly 20 watts per gram, nearly 30 times larger than that of 238Pu.
decay scheme of 60Co and 60mCo.
The diagram shows a (simplified) decay scheme of 60Co and 60mCo. The main β-decay transitions are shown. The probability for population of the middle energy level of 2.1 MeV by β-decay is 0.0022%, with a maximum energy of 665.26 keV. Energy transfers between the three levels generate six different gamma-ray frequencies. In the diagram the two important ones are marked.
Car scanning using Co-60 gamma-ray device.
Cobalt has been discussed as a “salting” element to add to nuclear weapons, to produce a cobalt bomb, an extremely “dirty” weapon which would contaminate large areas with 60Co nuclear fallout, rendering them uninhabitable. In one hypothetical design, thetamper of the weapon would be made of 59Co. When the bomb exploded, the excess neutrons from the nuclear fission would irradiate the cobalt and transmute it into 60Co. No nation is known to have done any serious development of this type of weapon.
(For more information about the dangers of Cobalt 60 in ‘dirty’ bombs, and the horrors of having a substance like this out in the world, easily available to ANYONE who really wants it, via food irradiation plants, and testing devices such as the one shown above, click on the following link)… http://youtu.be/pkoEwZtemnc?t=1m39s
There is no natural 60Co in existence; thus, synthetic 60Co is created by bombarding a 59Co target with a slow neutron source, usually californium-252 moderated through water to slow the neutrons down, or in a nuclear reactor such as a CANDU reactor, where the control rods usually made of steel are instead made of 59Co 59Co + n → 60Co
After entering a living human ( in food, air or water), some of the 60Co is excreted infeces. The remainder is taken up by tissues, mainly the liver, kidneys, and bones, where the prolonged exposure to gamma radiation can cause bone, liver, kidney or other cancers. Over time, some of the absorbed radioactive cobalt is eliminated in urine.
Cobalt is an element of steel alloys. Uncontrolled disposal of 60Co in scrap metal is responsible for the radioactivity found in several iron-based products. (This happens more often than you think)
In the above video an incident involving radioactive cobalt is discussed in India.
In 2000, a disused radiotherapy head containing a 60Co source was stored at an unsecured location in Bangkok, Thailand and then accidentally was sold to scrap collectors. Unaware of the dangers, a junkyard employee dismantled the head and extracted the source, which remained unprotected for a period of days at the junkyard. Ten people, including the scrap collectors and workers at the junkyard, were exposed to high levels of radiation and became ill. Three of the junkyard workers subsequently died as a result of their exposure, which was estimated to be over 6 Gy. The source was safely recovered by the Thai authorities.
This does not happen just in foreign countries. It also happens in the USA. In August, 2012, Petco recalled several models of steel pet food bowls after US Customs and Border Protection determined that they were emitting low levels of radiation. The source of the radiation was determined to be 60Co that had contaminated the steel. Many other incidents like this have happened in the USA, but there is no one tracking these, or monitoring where radioactive substances go that are sold for scrap.
Food and other items are often irradiated with Cobalt 60. These food items are often NOT LABELED.
Food Irradiation; Consequences and Negative Health Effects; via A Green Road
Here is how the radiation of foods and other items works… The item is sent into a chamber where Cobalt 60 is then exposed to it, killing all bacteria on or in the food item. But there is much more to this story. Click on link above to find out more…
Radioactive Cobalt 60 Properties, Dangers, Half Life, Weapons Application; via A Green Road