As a cautionary measure, the Health Ministry and the Environmental Protection Ministry issued a public warning on Monday not to wear bracelets that release radioactivity.
The bracelets do not issue significant amounts of radiation, the ministries said, and there is no significant danger, “but at the same time, we recommend not to wear them.”
The bracelets are of the EQ type, worn for “improving balance.” They are
made from the radioactive material thorium 232 with a higher
concentration than permitted. After the bracelets were examined in
radiological and analytic labs using a various of techniques, it was
found that the amount of uranium concentrations produced by the thorium
were higher than that permitted according to international standards.
The radiation is emitted by the rubber that covers the bracelet and not
from the metal itself.
Thorium is an abundant natural radioactive chemical element with the
atomic number 90 and the symbol “Th”; it was discovered in 1828 and
named after Thor, the Norse god of thunder. In nature, thorium is found
solely as thorium-232, which decays by releasing an alpha particle and
has a halflife of about 14 billion years.
It is estimated to be about three times more abundant than uranium in
the Earth’s crust and is a by-product of the extraction of rare earths
from monazite sands. Thorium was formerly used commonly as an alloying
material and the light source in gas mantles, among other things, but
these uses have become uncommon due to concern over its radioactivity.
The molten-salt reactor experiment conducted in the US in the 1960s used
thorium-232 to breed uranium-233.
According to a Hebrew website that markets the bracelets, they are used
by “extreme” sportsmen to cope with “negative energy fields.” They are
sold with claims that they have “negative ions” and include holograms.
They are sold in sports shops in the US, Europe, Australia, Japan and
New Zealand as well as Israel, including shop locations in Kfar Hess,
Jerusalem and Gush Etzion.
The ministries said that one should be exposed to radiation only for
medical procedures that are clearly justified and that wearing a
bracelet does not meet this criterion.
Therefore, users should stop wearing the bracelets immediately and
stores should stop selling them “until there is proof that they do not
contain radioactive contamination.”