These products are safe.
While these devices contain a radioactive substance, self-powered lighting does not pose a significant health concern.
To compare, your smoke detector has Americium-95 that has at least 2 orders of magnitude more radioactivity than this tritium vial.
A 2007 report by the UK government’s Health Protection Agency Advisory Group on Ionizing Radiation declared the health risks of tritium exposure to be double that previously set by the International Commission on Radiological Protection, but encapsulated tritium lighting devices, typically taking the form of a luminous glass tube embedded in a thick block of clear plastic, prevent the user from being exposed to the tritium at all unless the device is broken apart.
Tritium presents no external radiation threat via beta radiation when encapsulated in non-hydrogen-permeable containers due to its low penetration depth, which is insufficient to penetrate intact human skin. However, GTLS devices do emit low levels of X-rays due to bremsstrahlung.
The only potential danger from tritium arises if it is inhaled, ingested, injected or otherwise absorbed into the body.
Do not try this.
- Do not break open the device and inject it.
- Do not eat it.
- Do not attempt to break it open and breath in the gas as it quickly escapes.
This would result in the emitted radiation being absorbed in a relatively small region of the body, again due to the low penetration depth. The biological half-life of tritium—the time it takes for half of an ingested dose to be expelled from the body—is low, at only 12 days. Tritium excretion can be accelerated further by increasing water intake to 3–4 liters/day.
If someone were so dumb as to try this, they would probably survive.
This is not a good way to harm or kill someone. A bad diet will kill them faster.
Direct, short-term exposure to small amounts of tritium is relatively harmless.
Even ef a tritium tube should break, one should leave the area and allow the gas to diffuse into the air. Tritium exists naturally in the environment, but in very small quantities.
Is It True That Brazil Nuts Are Radioactive?
Brazil nuts contain small amounts of radium.
Although the amount of radium, a radioactive element, is very small, about 1–7 pCi/g (40–260 Bq/kg), and most of it is not retained by the body, this is 1,000 times higher than in other foods.
According to Oak Ridge Associated Universities, this is not because of elevated levels of radium in the soil, but due to “the very extensive root system of the tree.”
So you could truthfully say that eating Brazil Nuts represents a greater threat to your health than carrying a tritium keychain in your pocket.
Now don’t get scared of Brazil nuts. Really.
Most scientific evidence point in the direction of POSITIVE health benefits of Brazil nuts. There is promising evidence of their actually preventing cancers and extending human lifespans despite the fact that they contain radium and the shells are full of deadly aflatoxin.