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Children would need different medical care in wake of dirty bomb
Date:10/30/2007

ioactive contamination might affect animals and humans. Exposure to inhaled radioactive particles is very different from exposure to external radiation exposure. When a person receives external radiation to treat cancer, for example, he or she does not become radioactive. The exposure stops once the therapeutic radiation beam is turned off.

But continuous exposure, internally, to radioactive particles is a potential health risk. In the event of an attack with a radioactive or dirty bomb, radioactive dust and particles would likely stay in the air and linger on the ground, and breathing in or eating the radioactive dust could lead to long-term contamination. After the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion, for example, children drank milk from cows that had ingested radioactive particles by grazing in contaminated fields. The radioactive material eventually caused cancer in many of those children, Williams said.

Although scientists have not studied much about the consequences of inhaled radioactive exposure since the Cold War ended, the government ramped up funding for this type of research after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The University of Rochester was among several centers nationwide selected to improve the countrys response to a radiological event.

Scientists are not sure why juvenile mice responded differently than adult mice to radiation exposure, and they are continuing that investigation.

Rochester researchers are also looking at ways to measure the original dose of radiation a person received, after the fact. Currently, doctors look for symptoms such as skin redness and vomiting in patients with suspected radiation poisoning. But those symptoms are vague and can be elicited by stress, William said. The Rochester study has focused on developing evidence such as biomarkers that could be used in a mass casualty event to assign treatment.


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Contact: Leslie Orr
Leslie_Orr@urmc.rochester.edu
585-275-5774
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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