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I OCD radiophobe spouse suspects radiation burn

  1. May 18, 2017 #1
    My spouse has severe OCD and radiophobia. I realize this is not exactly the most appropriate venue for our questions, but hopefully somebody can help us in the right direction.

    She noticed several small (3-5mm), circular petechiae in a regular pattern across a roughly 6x6in area on my left upper back, and a horizontal band of smaller spots below it. The spots do not itch or hurt, and are not raised above the surrounding skin. Her worry is that these spots are radiation burns; the size and spacing seems to match holes in a steel bench, and radioactive contamination of the steel supply is one of her fears.

    Is there any way to rule out radioactive contamination as the source of these spots? I'd be happy to provide any additional information that may help.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 18, 2017 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    There is absolutely no way you can get radiation burns from a steel bench unless you put that steel bench into a nuclear reactor for a while, and then sit on it with skin contact and completely motionless for a while to get the pattern. And even then the pattern would be the opposite - burned skin where the bench is and potentially weaker damage where holes are.

    If the pattern is from the steel bench, it is probably pressure-related mechanical damage.
  4. May 18, 2017 #3
    Her worry is that a sufficiently powerful radioactive source behind the suspected bench would cause surface burns similar to the bench's hole pattern. (There was construction ongoing nearby, and she has specific worries about the radioactive "pigtail" used in industrial radiography.)

    Would the physiological response be any different than what we're seeing? Would clothing and distance affect the injury, and in what way? Is there a difference in injuries seen for α, β, and γ activity?
  5. May 18, 2017 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    Sure; "radiation burn" isn't really a thing, at least in the way you are using it.

    But that isn't your problem; your problem is that phobias can't be countered with logic, they must be countered with psychological care. Please get some for her. Thread locked.
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