Radioactive Old-school Dinner Plate Causes Panic at NJ High School
WESTMONT — A Haddon Township High School student says his science project with the Geiger counter he received as a Christmas and an antique dinnerplate led to the school's evacuation on Friday.
Students were ushered out of the school after a teacher reported a "hazardous substance" had been brought into the building by a student, according to acting Camden County Prosecutor Jill Mayer, who did not identify the substance. A hazardous materials team and firefighters were brought in before giving the all clear.
After the evacuation, a student told the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill that he had brought a piece of a Fiestaware dinner plate he found at an antique store that had been coated with uranium oxide.
The piece was roughly the size of a quarter enclosed in plastic, the student told NJ.com.
No one was charged in the incident. The Camden County Prosecutor's Office on Monday afternoon did not immediately return a message asking about the teen's interview.
The EPA on its website warns about radioactivity in antiques and specifically mentions brightly colored Fiestaware made before 1973 that used depleted uranium to create the color of the glaze.
Depleted uranium occurs naturally and emits alpha particle radiation. Exposure to the outside of the body is not considered a serious hazard but if it is ingested or inhaled, it is a serious health hazard.