Radioactive Cancer Patients: Public Health Menace?
2010 10 22

By Aina Hunter | CBSnews.com


Are Americans being exposed to dangerous radiation from thyroid cancer patients discharged from the hospital following treatment with radioactive iodine? A new congressional study suggests that’s a possibility, and some legislators are concerned.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) used to require that patients remain in the hospital a few days after swallowing doses of radioactive iodine used to shrink their tumors.

Those restrictions were eased a few years ago, and the study indicates that allowing patients to leave the hospital before excess radiation is excreted through sweat, saliva and urine may have been a bad idea.

"There is a strong likelihood that members of the public have been unwittingly exposed to radiation from patients," Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., wrote Wednesday in a letter to the NRC that details findings by his staff.

About 40,000 people a year develop thyroid cancer, and certain types are treated by swallowing radioactive iodine, or iodine 131. It takes about a week for a patient to "de-radioactivate," but many patients are sent right home. They are given instructions on how to minimize exposure to others, although it is unclear whether the radiation exposure occurs at levels high enough to cause harm.

Although the NRC says they are supposed to sleep alone, avoid public transportation, and avoid hugging and kissing children, staffers on the House Energy and Environment subcommittee who conducted a survey of more than 1,000 thyroid cancer patients found that many patients ignored the rules or weren’t informed.

The investigation found that:



~A patient who had received a dose of radioactive iodine boarded a bus in New York the same day, triggering radiation detectors as the bus passed through the Lincoln Tunnel heading for Atlantic City, N.J. State police officers determined that the patient had ignored instructions to avoid public transportation for two days.

~About 7 percent of outpatients said they had gone directly to a hotel after their treatment, most with their doctors’ knowledge.. In 2007, an Illinois hotel was contaminated after linens from a patient’s room were washed together with other bedding. The incident would probably have gone unreported but for nuclear plant workers who later stayed in the same hotel and set off radiation alarms when they reported to work.

~About one-fourth of outpatients said they never discussed with their doctors how to avoid exposing pregnant women and children to radiation. The survey found 56 cases in which a patient shared a bathroom or bedroom with a pregnant woman or a child, or had other close contact.

~At least two states -- Maryland and Massachusetts -- said they had encountered problems with household trash from the homes of patients treated with radioactive iodine. Garbage trucks set off radiation alarms at landfills, requiring loads to be unpacked and examined, exposing sanitation workers to a range of hazards.


Article from: cbsnews.com





Related Articles
Safer treatment for thyroid cancer
NASA: The Earth Could Experience Huge Radiation Levels By 2013
Full-Body Scanners to Fry Travelers With Radiation
Too much radiation for astronauts to make it to Mars
Medical scans can give nuclear-plant radiation doses
Mobile phone radiation damages memory: study
Mobile phone radiation wrecks your sleep
The Radiation Poisoning Of America


Latest News from our Front Page

Water rationing hits California: limit of 50 gallons per person per day or face fines of $500
2014 09 29
Millions of Californians are about to be hit with strict water rationing -- daily "allocation" numbers that represent the maximum amount of water you’re allowed to use for any purpose. Households that exceed the allocation limit will face stiff fines of hundreds of dollars per violation. "In July, the State Water Resources Control Board passed stage one emergency regulations, giving powers ...
Much of Earth’s Water is Older than the Sun
2014 09 29
Much of the water on Earth and elsewhere in the solar system likely predates the birth of the sun, a new study reports. The finding suggests that water is commonly incorporated into newly forming planets throughout the Milky Way galaxy and beyond, researchers said — good news for anyone hoping that Earth isn’t the only world to host life. “The implications of ...
Did the Vikings Get a Bum Rap?
2014 09 29
A Yale historian wants us to rethink the terrible tales about the Norse. This illustration shows the stereotype of Viking marauders wreaking mayhem, even on clergy. The scene depicts the monastery at Clonmacnoise, Ireland. The Vikings gave no quarter when they stormed the city of Nantes, in what is now western France, in June 843—not even to the monks barricaded in the ...
David Cameron Says Non-Violent Conspiracy Theorists Are Just As Dangerous As ISIS
2014 09 29
David Cameron told the U.N. that "non-violent extremism" is just as dangerous as terrorism and must be eradicated using all means at the government’s disposal. He references 9/11 and 7/7 Truthers as examples of the type of extremism that must be dealt in a similar fashion to ISIS. If you thought Obama’s War is Peace speech to the U.N. was creepy, ...
NY Times: Europe’s Anti-Semitism Comes Out of the Shadows
2014 09 28
NY Times Whines about European "Anti-Semitism" In the wake of the conflict in Gaza, three communities became flash points of violence and began contending with hatred they thought was buried in the past. Read the NY Times hit piece on Europe here Below is a rebuttal from Mike King’s The Anti-New York Times at tomatobubble.com: Strike up the violins and break out the barf ...
More News »