Yes, petrified wood is radioactive, but it is not dangerous.
When people hear the word radioactive, the tendency is to presume that all radioactive energy is as deadly as a nuclear device.
With petrified wood, the energy rays of radiation are not high enough to cause harm or damage to the human system, but they are there.
Learn more about that here.
Why Is Petrified Wood Radioactive?
The Science — Radiation is Everywhere
We are all exposed to certain levels of radioactive energy every day, and it is not deadly.
As humans, it is natural to think that any exposure to radioactive material could be deadly, or cause disease that is deadly.
That kind of radiation is energy that is high level energy that is happening in large quantities.
To become ill or negatively impacted by radiation, we would have to be exposed to a large quantity at once, or certain levels of it in a sustained and prolonged period over time.
A necklace for example that is made of petrified wood or that has petrified wood on it could be worn all day every day for a year, without any radiation impacting the wearer.
There are a number of different kinds of radiation rays, each with different energy levels and wavelengths.
These are all found in different areas in life. Some examples of this are sunlight, ultraviolet waves, infrared lighting, and electromagnetic radiation.
All of these wavelengths of light will have a low energy value of radiation that will not do us much harm.
When there are increased exposures over long periods of time, detriment effects would be the result.
For sunlight, for example, a sunburn after a long time in the sun on one day could temporarily impair the human system.
If that occurs every day over several years, there is a risk of cancer.
When we look at the radiation levels of a stone or piece of petrified wood, the light or radiation emissions from that product is much different.
In stones and petrified wood, the nucleus of the atoms within that product is where the energy rays of radiation come from.
Radiation emitted from that nucleus is called radioactivity.
In time, when those stones break down, so do the nuclei, and there is a decay process that emit radioactivity.
The process of decomposition launches the process of radioactivity.
For a lot of these elements, the isotopes of that mineral or element will decompose too quickly for a radioactive emission to cause harm.
When a substance emits radioactive energy, the energy is emitting as alpha rays, beta rays, and gamma rays.
It is important to understand this in order to understand why petrified wood is radioactive, and if that is harmful.
Alpha Rays, Beta Rays, Gamma Rays
Radioactivity is energy transmission from elements that have nuclei that release alpha rays, beta rays, and gamma rays.
Alpha and beta rays contain particles composed of two protons and two neutrons.
A gamma ray contains photons. Each of these kinds of rays can be stopped in order to prevent the radioactive level within them.
Alpha rays can be stopped through air.
When alpha rays are exposed to air, they won’t penetrate the skin.
It only takes approximately six inches of air to stop alpha ray exposure.
If petrified wood containing alpha rays was worn against the skin, or held in the hand, you would not ever experience harmful effects. These are large particles as well.
Beta rays can be slightly more penetrating, and you will need a thicker substance to prevent penetration.
Aluminum and steel products that encased the beta rays would prevent penetration.
You aren’t likely to see a lot of beta rays emitting from petrified wood, as the energy products have decomposed significantly.
If you find radioactivity in petrified wood, it would likely have been exposed to something else.
The radioactive nature of the wood on its own wouldn’t be enough to cause harm.
Gamma rays are the kind of radioactive rays that you see in X-ray labs and radiation clinics.
These are high-powered rays that can cut through lead.
In health care, they are supposed to, in order to penetrate skin and kill cancer cells.
You will not ever see petrified wood that has been exposed to gamma rays, or contains gamma rays.
The most important element of this discussion is to learn that yes, petrified wood is radioactive.
No, petrified wood is not dangerous.
You won’t need to wear protective gear to enjoy a piece of petrified wood, in jewelry, or even just to hold a piece.
Additionally, radioactive energy is also very unstable.
That means that in time, any remnants of radioactive energy that could be emitted from petrified wood would decompose in time.
Are Petrified Wood Applications Harmful?
No, they are not, unless they have been exposed to a large amount of additional radiation.
The likelihood of that happening is very slim.
This is not something that would be an unknown variable.
We know that when we enter a radioactive field, we are given notice of such.
We would not ever find a piece of petrified wood that has been inadvertently exposed to radiation beyond what it already contains.
And, the amount of radioactive energy that a piece of petrified wood contains is negligible and harmless.
If you find petrified wood sold in stores, it is safe to purchase, use, and touch.
These are products that contain the alpha rays of radioactive energies.
Wearing the wood or holding it is safe. If you were to grind it, eat it, or ingest it somehow, you would be exposing yourself to some levels of radiation.
That never happens.
Geiger counters will measure the level of radioactivity in a substance.
Radiation is measured by the unit of Gray per hour (Gy/h).
A microgray is uGy, and a fraction of a unit of Gy/h.
The amount of radiation that a necklace or set of earrings of petrified wood would contain would be in the 0.1 microgray uGY levels.
In a radiation lab, technicians that are permitted to be exposed to certain levels of radiation can be safely exposed to radiation at a level of 0.5 Sv. 1 microgray is the equivalent of .1 x 10 -5 Sv.
Petrified wood is safe to use and enjoy.
Enjoy Petrified Wood
Is petrified wood radioactive?
Yes, petrified wood is radioactive in the sense that it contains some radioactive elements.
These are negligible, and can not penetrate the skin.
When we think of radioactivity, our first thoughts are on nuclear devices, cancer-causing cell phones, and radiation centers.
These are not the same kinds of radioactive energies and particles found in petrified wood.
Enjoy petrified wood in any of its forms today.
Other Petrified Wood Questions: