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