Answer to Question #10804 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Environmental and Background Radiation — Soil and Fallout

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:


I purchased a set of bar stools that I was told were from the Marshall Islands in the 1950s. Afterward, I learned about the atomic testing on Bikini Island and was wondering if I should have concerns about any lingering radioactivity on furniture in my home from this era.


While it is true that the Marshall Islands was one of the major sites of nuclear testing by the United States, the possibility that the bar stools that you have purchased contain any measurable residual radioactivity from that testing is almost nonexistent. The Marshall Islands covers a vast area of ocean and the nuclear test sites are located hundreds of miles from the main population centers. I spent many years performing radiation measurements of the entire country and am closely familiar with the radiation conditions at all atolls. It is highly doubtful that the barstools you purchased were ever on the nuclear test sites themselves; they most likely originated far from those locations. Because there is no reasonable way that the barstools could be contaminated or could continue to carry radioactivity, you should not have any concerns about them bringing residual contamination into your home.

Steven L. Simon, PhD

Answer posted on 11 September 2013. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.