Impact of Additional Security Measures on the Use of Radiation Sources in Medicine


K. L. Nelson, K. L. Classic, R. J. Vetter


Academic medical centers, hospitals, and medical laboratories utilize various security measures to prevent theft or unauthorized use of radioactive materials and radiation sources. Recent anxiety about orphan sources and terrorism has heightened concern about diversion of radioactive sources for purposes of constructing a radiological dispersion device (RDD). Consequently, some medical institutions have conducted threat assessments and incorporated additional measures into their security plans. However, uniform recommendations or regulations have not been promulgated by regulatory agencies. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) drafted interim guidance for the purpose of assisting member states in deciding what security measures should be taken for various radioactive sources. The IAEA recommendations are aimed at regulators, but suppliers and users also may find the recommendations to be helpful. Using IAEA criteria as well as information obtained from other agency reports, we evaluated the security of various medical devices including blood bank irradiators, low-dose-rate brachytherapy sources, Mo-99/Tc-99m generators, a high-doserate afterloader, intravascular brachytherapy sources, a Co-60 stereotactic surgery unit, and self-shielded irradiators used in biomedical research. Threat assessments and additional security actions that were taken are described. We also considered the impact of additional security measures on practices that utilize these sources, costs of various alternatives, and the importance of a security culture in ensuring the integrity of security measures without negatively affecting beneficial use of these sources.


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.

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