Radioactive Materials (RAM) Environmental Health Division Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). Radiological Issues: An Overview. Presentation. Objective: to increase awareness and understanding of key radiation concepts and terminology Research Findings
Environmental Health Division
Minnesota Department of Health (MDH)
Radiological Issues: An Overview
Objective: to increase awareness and understanding of key radiation concepts and terminology
ALARA principles are primarily used to protect the public.
In a radiation emergency, MDH staff would help recommend protective actions for the public, such as evacuate, shelter in place, or relocate.
Amounts of radiation, biological, and chemical agents all can be measured right away.
Three basic safety factors in protecting yourself from radiation are distance, shielding, and time.True or False… Summary
http://www.bt.cdc.gov/radiation/pdf/hospitalroundtablereport.pdf, accessed 12/22/2004
Radiation is energy released from unstable elements. The energy is released until the element is stable.
This may take a fraction of a second or billions of years depending upon the element.
Decay (decrease in the radioactivity) can be determined using half-lives.
A “half-life” is the time it takes for an isotope to reduce its activity by one half…
This means that if, an element has a half-life of five years:
1/2 of the radiation would be present in 5 years
1/4 of the radiation would be present in 10 years
1/8 of the radiation would be present in 15 years
1/16 of the radiation would be present in 20 years
1/32 of the radiation would be present in 25 years
U-238 has a 4.47 billion year half-life
Cesium-137 has a 30 year half-life
Cobalt-60 has a 5 year half-life
Iodine-131 has an 8 day half-life
Other sources of ionizing radiation may decay faster, causing less exposure.
Source: http://www.epa.gov/radiation/radionuclides/ accessed 12/23/2004
Radiation is everywhere, coming from:
You cannot see, smell, or feel it.
Types of radiation include:
Alpha () and Beta () Particles
Gamma () and X-rays
Gamma rays (g) are a different matter.
The term used to measure radiation doses is “rem.”
It measures the effect of radiation on living tissue, also known as a “biologically effective dose.”
Typically, exposure is expressed in “millirems” (mrem) which is one-thousandth of a rem.
Flight from Los Angeles to London . . . . 5 mrem
Annual public dose limit . . . . . . . . . . .100 mrem
Annual natural background . . . . . . 300 mrem
Fetal dose limit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 500 mrem
Annual radiation worker dose limit . 5000 mrem
Emergency:The MDH accepts an emergency exposure for lifesaving only of 25 to 100 rem.
Note: Workplace exposures required to be “As Low As Reasonably Achievable” (ALARA)
Known Exposure Risks
“Annual Occupational Exposure Limit” 5 Rem
Exposure (in Rem)
Risks increase with exposure
Acute Radiation Sickness
Hair loss in 3-4 weeks. Death likely for 50% of exposed and untreated
Mild radiation sickness: nausea, fatigue, weak
Chromosome errors, burns, not visibly ill
Exposure (in Rems)
Medical applications include:
Source: FDA, Center for Devices and Radiological Health
Business applications include:
Source: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Public health applications include:
Source: FDA, Center for Devices and Radiological Health http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/cic_text/health/fullbody-ctscan/what.htm
Accidental (Controlled by regulatory systems)
Intentional (Controlled by legal systems)
US plants: 3 barriers between radioactive materials and the environment. The reactor will not explode.
Structures that house reactor fuel are robust. Fuel is protected from impacts of large commercial aircraft.
Professionals discuss, plan, and perform “exercises” often to rehearse skills and test possible scenarios:
Definition: a conventional bomb surrounded by or filled with non-nuclear radiological materials. (also called a radiological dispersal device, or RDD)
Unlikely, and most probable, form of radiological terrorism
Radioactivity would not kill or seriously injure people (but an explosion might).
Would create fear or chaos: coined a “Weapon of Mass Disruption.”
Expect significant long-term psychological effects.
An RDD could be
This photo was staged, but several alleged real-life RDD plots have been upset.
Erik Stuhaug, photographer, accessed 11/10/2004
Remember, a “dirty bomb” will probably not cause radiation sickness or death.
Metro Area ………..(651) 649-5451
Toll Free (MN)..…1 (800) 422-0798
1) Save lives
2) Control access
3) Monitor radiation
5) IC communicates action to the public
…Evacuate.. or.. Shelter in place
6) Place controls on food and water
7) Relocate…Populations may mass in your jurisdiction for a long time
Rescue known living victims.
3) Continue to monitor radiation levels
Erik Stuhaug, photographer, accessed 11/10/2004
Source: MDH, An Exercise, Courtesy of D Grundmanis
Immediate/urgent removal of people from a contaminated area. Mass shelter and care will be required.
Shelter in place
Stay indoors, close/ seal doors and windows. Turn off/ cover fans and air conditioners. Individuals must care for themselves.Public safety and public health staff can plan cooperatively.
Check your local plans for your role(s).
e.g., Communication Plan:Form a JPIC. Present regular PIO briefings and press releases. Media informs the public. Hotline message instructs area residents to:
Public health staff will likely play a large role in recovery efforts.
• Assist with development of guidanceto local public officials for:
- emergency workers,
- remediation personnel, and
- the public
• Coordinate sampling activities, including air samples
• Analyze samples at the MDH Public Health Laboratory
• Review results of sample analysis and make recommendations for protective actions, additional sampling, control, and mitigation as appropriate.
• Develop and maintain a preparedness and response plan for public health aspects of disasters and emergencies
Unlike many biological or chemical agents, the presence and amount of radiation can be detected immediately.
Photo: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center , 10/16/2003 http://www.fhcrc.org/pubs/center_news/2003/oct16/Radiation.jpg Accessed 1/3/2005
Stop. Look. Listen.
Anytime an incident is reported that could be remotely perceived as terrorism, the first responder should take a Geiger counter.
Approach the site cautiously with the survey meter on the lowest scale.
(There normally are some slow clicks measuring background radiation. But if it clicks faster, there is more radiation.)
There are two primary uses for a Geiger counter:
1) To identify radiation levels
2) To identify contamination on personnel, equipment, and property
For more information:
MDH Environmental Health (651) 215-0700
Emergencies Only-- call MN Duty Officer:
Metro Area …….…(651) 649-5451
or Toll-free in MN……1 (800) 422-0798
Please go to the separate file entitled, “radtest.pdf” to print the post-test.
This slide acknowledges that _____________________
has seen the web-based presentation, “Radiological Issues”
and has increased awareness and understanding of key concepts and terminology.