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This was reported from Chernobyl. My surmise is that at sufficiently high radiation levels the chemical structure of the paint is attacked and it is basically burnt or evaporated off the surface. Each element responds differently to various types of radiation. Some may vaporize, some may heat up to the point that the chemical bonds are broken and/or oxidized or reduced.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 10:27:43 PM EST
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I had a friend who used to supply specialised paints to the nuke industry. I remember him saying that if you look old paint on a house it bubbles and cracks, in a normal working nuke plant, the paint on surfaces decays at five times the rate, depending on the  exposure. However everything is painted to keep moisture away from metal surfaces, as rust absorbs radiation more than plain steel, and is much harder to decontaminate. At vastly increased radioactive rates you'll get much more cracking and bubbling as impurities occur and you get  breakdown of some molecules in the paint matrix.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 06:47:14 AM EST
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wow!
by njh on Sun Apr 3rd, 2011 at 05:09:07 PM EST
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