Aladdin continually receives inquiries concerning the
level of possible exposure to radiation when using their mantles.
We think that this level should be put into perspective.
The following information is based upon an exhaustive 1981 report prepared
by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory entitled 'An Assessment of Radiation
Doses from Incandescent Gas Mantles That Contain Thorium' and the National
Commission on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP).
The effect of radiation on biological tissues is measured in millirems
(mrem). An individual's exposure to radiation in using a gas mantle
is almost infinitesimal compared with the radiation that he or she receives
every day from natural sources just by being outside. This environmental
radiation is estimated at 100 mrem. Sources of this radiation are cosmic,
external terrestrial and radionuclides within the body itself.
Compare this 100 mrem level with the .03 - .06 mrem in total body
exposure that an avid camper would receive in the course of 26 two-day
camping trips in one year using two doubled-mantled lanterns and four
Just moving from a sea level community to Denver would increase a
person's exposure to environmental (cosmic) radiation by 24 mrem per
year, or several times the radiation exposure from a lantern.
It is estimated that medically related radiation doses total 70 mrem
per year to the average individual in the United States. A chest x-ray
exposes an individual to the equivalent of 50 mrem and an abdominal
x-ray is 1,300 mrem.
In the ridiculous instance of a person ingesting (actually eating)
a whole mantle, he would be exposing himself to a maximum of only 200
mrem. We hope these facts will convince you, as it has the appropriate
regulating agencies, that gas mantles are an insignificant source of
radiation whose benefits far outweigh the minimal radiation levels associated
The following statement was written by Bill Dempsey.
He is a member of the Aladdin Knights, the official Aladdin lamp collectors
club. He is responding to the question of whether or not Aladdin lamp
mantles are radioactive.
I did a cursory bit of research and will pass on the conclusions.
Thorium is radioactive. Its primary mode of decomposition is alpha particles,
which are very low intensity and would not even penetrate the box a mantle
comes in. Some of the rarer isotopes decompose via beta emission, but
these are merely electrons. The oxide of thorium has the highest melting
point of any oxide making it ideal for high temperature uses. I suspect
that virtually no thorium comes off a burning mantle. As to dust, that
would be another matter. I would be careful with crumbled mantels and
dispose of these in a zip lock bag or sealed container just to prevent
the release of airborne particles. Breathing dust is an occupational hazard
of living, but I would minimize the possibility anyway. I believe that
old and new mantles are virtually the same composition, since it seems
that the Welsbach-discovered formula has not been improved upon.
All in all, I think Aladdin mantles are the least of our worries in this
world of synthetic and organic compounds.