[ RadSafe ] FW: New CDC site on UK's Polonium-210
james.g.barnes at att.net
james.g.barnes at att.net
Fri Dec 1 07:31:31 CST 2006
This was posted to the Occupational Medicine BB this morning.
-------------- Forwarded Message: --------------
From: "Gary Greenberg" <gngreenberg at gmail.com>
To: Occ-Env-Med-L <james.g.barnes at att.net>
Subject: [occ-env-med-l] New CDC site on UK's Polonium-210
Date: Fri, 1 Dec 2006 03:52:15 +0000
Information Regarding Polonium-210 Involved in Recent Events in the
Recent events in the United Kingdom have brought attention to the
radioactive material Polonium-210 (Po-210) as a possible public health
concern. The U.K. Health Protection Agency has information about
Po-210 and this event on their Web site:
(www.hpa.org.uk/polonium/default.htm). Additional information on this
topic can be found on the U.K. National Health Service site
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed the
following basic questions and responses about this topic.
What is Polonium 210?
Po-210 is a radioactive material that occurs naturally at very low
concentrations in the environment; although it can be produced in
university or government nuclear reactors, it requires expertise to do
so. The exposures to this radionuclide in London represent a very rare
event. Po-210 emits alpha particles, which carry high amounts of
energy that can damage or destroy genetic material in cells inside the
body. Po-210 is a particularly energetic radionuclide, giving off
5,000 times more alpha particles than does the same amount of radium.
Po-210 is used in some industrial applications such as static
eliminators, which are devices designed to eliminate static
electricity in processes such as paper rolling, manufacturing sheet
plastics, and spinning synthetic fibers.
Is Po-210 harmful to humans?
Po-210 is a radiation hazard only if it is taken into the body through
breathing or eating or by entering a wound. This "internal
contamination" can cause irradiation of internal organs, which can
result in serious medical symptoms or death. Po-210 is not an external
hazard to the bodyneither polonium nor its radiation will penetrate
intact skin or membranes. Most external traces of it can be removed
through careful washing. For more information about contamination and
irradiation (exposure), see CDC's fact sheet "Radiological
Contamination and Radiation Exposure"
Are other people at risk if they come into close contact with a
People will not be exposed to radiation (irradiated) simply by being
near a person who is internally contaminated with Po-210. Health care
workers who are providing care for a contaminated patient will not be
exposed to Po-210 unless they inhale or ingest contaminated bodily
fluids. Normal hygiene practices in hospitals for microbial
contamination will be sufficient to protect workers from radiological
contamination. For more information on radiation protection for
health care workers, see CDC's "Radiological Terrorism: Tool Kit for
Emergency Services Clinicians"
What should you do if you have concerns about possible exposure
related to the London incident?
If you were an overseas visitor during early November 2006 and think
you might have had contact with persons or locations involved in the
London incident see http://www.hpa.org.uk/. Send an e-mail requesting
information to the U.K. Health Protection Agency at
overseasadvice at hpa.org.uk.
Gary N. Greenberg, MD MPH Sysop / Moderator Occ-Env-Med-L MailList
Univ. N. Carolina School Public Health & Duke Univ. Med. Ctr.
GNGreenberg at gmail.com http://occhealthnews.net
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