Canadian Preparedness for Radiological Emergencies

T. Segura1; E.J. Thorleifson2; D. Mullins1; L. PrudÙhomme-Lalonde1; S. Lachapelle1; S. Qutob2; S. Miller2; D. Morrison3; D. Boreham4; and D. Wilkinson1 (1Defence R&D Canada - Ottawa; 2Consumer and Clinical Radiation Protection Bureau; 3Atomic Energy of Canada Limited; 4McMaster Institute of Applied Radiation Sciences)

In recent years, international security agencies have recognized a need for enhancing the development of emergency response capabilities to mitigate chemical, biological and radiological threats and to deal with the consequences of these events. Since September 2001, Canadian Federal Departments have taken a lead in training and establishing networks within the first-responder and first-receiver communities. In the event of radiological incidents, public health measures are being implemented to guide the actions of first receivers and health care providers. Of primary concern is a rapid and accurate identification of the incident and its associated health risks. Traditional methods use the rate of change in blood cell counts from peripheral blood samples as an indicator of radiation exposure and a predictor of associated health risks. More recently the International Standards Organization has also accepted a cytogenetic method for biological dosimetry, the dicentric assay. Although time consuming, the dicentric assay provides a more sensitive estimate of the dose received. CanadaÙs approach to radiological emergency response is to congeal the existing capabilities and at the same time support the development of new research in biological dosimetry and identification of radiation responsive biomarkers. A network of laboratories is joining forces to better prepare for radiological emergencies. In preparation, our laboratory is enhancing expertise, establishing dose response curves, and coordinating intra- and inter-comparison exercises. The results of the intra-comparison were used to determine our laboratoryÙs capacity and the results of the inter-comparison were used to test the communications and intra-operability of the collaborating network involving four research laboratories. The summary of this work with the lessons learned represents Canadian capacity for radiological emergency preparedness.

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