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Radioactive Fiesta® Ware – Happy Cinco de Mayo!!!

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Fiesta® Ware – Cinco de Mayo!!!

It’s the fifth of may and everyone is celebrating the French receiving some sort of “beat down” by the Mexicans. Sounds like a party, but why not make it a Fiesta!?

I thought it a good time to find and buy a Fiesta® Ware plate of my very own.

Fredericksburg Virginia, close to me, has dozens of antique shops. Most antique shops I have visited in the United States are literally full of hundreds of pieces of uranium glassware and uranium ceramics.

How much uranium is in one of my local stores? Let’s do some “ball park” guess work. =)
I have read that glazes for (this is a touch anecdotal) ceramics, like Fiesta® Ware contained about 10-12% uranium by mass, while depression glassware contains about 2%. If I suppose that a normal antique shop has about five pieces of Fiesta® Ware at 50g’s of glaze each and 50 pieces of depression glassware at about 150grams each… we would get:

5pieces (50g)0.12 + 50 pieces(150g)0.02 = 180g of uranium =) That’s 6.3 ounces…

Of course, this is merely a guess.

Anyhow, the piece I purchased (for a mere $20) is quit lovely, behind lead, and old too. The gamma spectrum I detected showed a much greater U-235 peak at 185.71 keV and 143.76 keV than I would have expected for natural uranium. Also, the equilibrium of Pa-234m is low but growing faster than my DU marbles… I would have to call this processed natural uranium oxide. I would guess that my does is somewhere between 2-8 mR/hr at contact, which is why I keep the plate far away and behind lead. =)

Data from: http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML0829/ML082910862.pdf
and http://www.orau.org/ptp/collection/consumer%20products/fiesta.htm