FIGURE 3. Relative radiation resistance of elastomers.
The damage done to organic materials by the presence of tritium in the internal
structure of the material is not limited to the more obvious radiation damage
effects. Tritium, particularly in the form of T +, has the insidious ability to leach
impurities (and nonimpurities) out of the body of the parent material. In many
cases, particularly where halogens are involved, the damage done by
secondary effects such as leaching can be more destructive than the
immediate effects caused by the radiation damage. In one such case, the
tritium contamination normally present in heavy water up to several curies per
liter was able to leach substantial amounts of chlorides out of the bodies of
neoprenea O-rings that were used for the seals. The chlorides leached out of
The proper chemical name for neoprene is " hlorobutadiene."