Teen takes apart sign at home
Jill Lipoti, New Jersey Department of Environment
An incident in New Jersey demonstrates the consequences of improper management of a tritium sign. In New Jersey we had an incident where a 16 year old boy picked up a discarded tritium exit sign, took it back to his room and took it apart with a screwdriver while he was eating sunflower seeds. He ingested the tritium because when you break the vials, it releases tritium into the air. The tritium will glom on to anything that moisture will be attracted to, so he ingested tritium. The child managed to call the poison control center and get us involved right away. But his room had to be decontaminated, he had to be decontaminated, his family had to be put up at a hotel while all of this was going on. The cost to the state, which was paid for by the New Jersey spill fund, was over $100,000 and interestingly the child, the 16 year old, through drinking lots of fluids, was able to keep his dose to about 80 mrem. But still imagine this, this one exit sign, and one kid and he managed to contaminate himself and his house.