Security of Information Regarding Radioactive Material in Health Care and Biomedical Research


E. M. Leidholdt, Jr., E. L. McGuire


Before 11 September 2001 there were few restrictions on information regarding radioactive material used in medicine and biomedical research. However, unsecured information could be used by terrorists to locate suitable material, defeat security measures, and remove it. The goals of security can be in conflict with openness and hazard communication. Security guidance issued to date by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission for material used in medicine and biomedical research does not address information security. IAEA TECDOC-1355, "Security of Radioactive Sources, Interim Guidance for Comment," provides recommendations for information security. In particular, it recommends that information on Co-60 teletherapy devices, gamma stereotactic radiosurgery devices, self-shielded irradiators, and high-dose-rate, remote-afterloading brachytherapy devices be restricted. The VA National Health Physics Program has concluded that restrictions on information are unnecessary for most nuclear medicine departments and biomedical research laboratories. However, for radioactive material of higher risk, particularly multicurie sources of long half-life, restriction of access to information is warranted. A search of the Internet revealed extensive information on large-activity radioactive sources used in medicine and biomedical research, particularly self-shielded irradiators. Several websites listed building and room locations, manufacturer and model of device, radionuclide, and activity.


This abstract was presented at the 38th Annual Midyear Meeting, "Materials Control and Security: Risk Assessment, Handling, and Detection", Materials Control and Security in University and Medical Facilities Session, 2/13/2005 - 2/16/2005, held in New Orleans, LA.

Index of Midyear Meeting Abstracts