Answer to Question #13563 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Medical and Dental Patient Issues — Therapy - Nuclear Medicine

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:


I am an in-home caregiver for a person who will be receiving iodine-131 (131I) treatment for thyroid nodules. I don't know the treatment dosage. My question relates to working within an enclosed environment (very tiny apartment with windows closed). I provide care 15 hours a week (four-hour shifts x four days). I understand that there is a certain level of radioactive contamination exposure risk, and that distancing and personal protective equipment (PPE) will minimize this risk. I plan on taking two weeks away from working with the patient during their treatment. When I return to work will there be any significant exposure risk that I may then unknowingly take home (on my clothing, hands, skin, car seat) and place my toddler at risk of small amounts of radioactive contamination?


I understand your concern for your toddler and want to reassure you that your child will not be at risk. When a patient is treated for thyroid nodules with radioactive iodine, most of the iodine is taken up by the thyroid and the rest is eliminated, primarily through the urine, in the first few days. After two weeks, you definitely do not need to worry about radioactive contamination. We typically recommend restrictions of two to five days for radioactive iodine patients, depending on the activity administered.

Deirdre H. Elder, MS, CHP, CMLSO

Ask the Experts is posting answers using only SI (the International System of Units) in accordance with international practice. To convert these to traditional units we have prepared a conversion table. You can also view a diagram to help put the radiation information presented in this question and answer in perspective. Explanations of radiation terms can be found here.
Answer posted on 31 July 2020. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.