Uranium Marbles and Glassware: A Radiation Risk?

Recently, the NNEPC got a call from a middle school where a student had brought in some uranium marbles. Also known as vaseline glass or canary glass, these marbles and similar glass products date back to the 1840s. The glass turns a glowing, rich green color when put under a black light.

Uranium Marbles
Bre Prettis photograph. ©2007, licensed under Creative Commons.

Uranium glass items are often sold on the antique market, through a handful of online sellers and on eBay.

It’s easy see why a teacher or parent might be worried about a kid playing with these yellow-green glass marbles. These marbles do contain uranium, but not enough to be of concern.  Despite often being sold with a package sticker that states “Radioactive Materials,” there is very, very little risk from handling these products.  Uranium is found naturally in the environment, and we actually take in more uranium from food and water than you would get from these marbles and glassware.

There is little need to be worried about handling or being around uranium marbles and glassware.

Guest poster Patrick Cote is a class of 2013 PharmD candidate from Creighton University. He rotated with the Northern New England Poison Center in June 2012.

This entry was posted in Poison Prevention. Bookmark the permalink.