Answer to Question #11121 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Nuclear Power, Devices, and Accidents — Nuclear and Radiation Accidents

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

Q

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?

A

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

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 10 December 2014. 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.