AET Provides Cost Effective Recycling for Tritium Exit Signs

Exit signs containing radioactive tritium gas require recycling or hazardous waste disposal.  Tritium is the naturally occurring radioactive isotope of hydrogen.  When combined with a light-emitting compound, tritium causes exit signs to glow.  It is the only radioactive isotope of hydrogen.  An isotope is a different form of an element.  It has the same number of protons in the nucleus but a different number of neutrons.  The nucleus of a tritium atom consists of one proton and two neutrons.

In addition to naturally occurring solar radiation in the atmosphere, tritium can be accelerator-produced and used in nuclear reactors as a fission product in nuclear weapons.  The US Department of Energy (DOE) monitors the production and use of tritium.  Although tritium does emit radiation, the emission is weak and cannot travel far or penetrate human skin.  According to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), unwanted tritium exit signs “pose little or no threat to public health and safety or security,” but they are solid waste.

How is Tritium Regulated?

Manufacturers of tritium exit signs apply for and receive a general license from the NRC.  Anyone who owns or purchases these exit signs is covered under the manufacturer’s license as a general licensee.  The NRC or an agreement state has the authority to inspect general licensees to ensure that they are complying with regulations.

Why Are Radioactive Exit Signs a Liability?

Despite their widespread use and general safety, the disposal of tritium exit signs still must comply with radioactive waste regulations.  They cannot be discarded with regular trash because broken signs could create contamination issues. Exit signs that end up in landfills can possibly contaminate a water supply or end up in the food we eat.  Licensees that do not manage signs properly through the license transfer process could face serious fines.

AET Provides Cost Effective Recycling

If your business needs tritium exit sign recycling or disposal, contact AET.  We can manage all aspects of proper and safe exit sign disposition.  From proper packaging, shipping documentation, license transfer letters to final disposal, AET will remove your old signs and keep you compliant with all required regulations.

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