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