Answer to Question #11121 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"
The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:
Is there any method without instruments or detectors to check whether a person is suffering from medical problems due to a radiation exposure similar to what happened in the Mayapuri, Delhi, case?
The accident in Mayapuri, India, occurred in March 2010 with 60Co sources from an irradiator that was not properly disposed of by a university. The irradiator ended up at a scrap metal site and 16 sealed cylinders containing 112 60Co sources were removed from the source housing. The incident and recovery is described in a slide show by the Indian Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. Seven people received high radiation doses and one of those died from the exposure.
There is a biological response by the body that can be used to quantify a high exposure. Typical symptoms are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The sooner these symptoms occur, the higher the radiation dose. Serial blood counts for lymphocytes and other blood cells can also assist in determining an approximate dose following whole-body radiation exposures.
Useful information on managing high radiation exposure victims can be found starting on page 6 in the Hospital Triage Booklet prepared by Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site, the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education.
The Radiation Emergency Medical Management website also has information on this topic.
I hope you find these resources helpful.
Marcia Hartman, MS
Joel I. Cehn, CHP