[ RadSafe ] Hospital scanner could curb nuclear waste threat

John R Johnson idias at interchange.ubc.ca
Sun Jan 31 09:17:18 CST 2010


They are talking about Tc-99 (halflife = 21200 years), not Tc-99m (halflife 
= 6 hours).

John R Johnson, PhD
4535 West 9th Ave
Vancouver, B. C.
V6R 2E2, Canada
idias at interchange.ubc.ca

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "*** ******" <royherren2005 at yahoo.com>
To: <radsafe at radlab.nl>
Sent: Saturday, January 30, 2010 4:25 PM
Subject: [ RadSafe ] Hospital scanner could curb nuclear waste threat

I am preplexed by the following article. Perhaps someone can explain the 
rational behind using a "Hospital Scanner", to perform environmental sample 
*** ******

Public release date: 29-Jan-2010

Contact: Alex Waddington
alex.waddington at manchester.ac.uk
University of Manchester

Hospital scanner could curb nuclear waste threat
Medical equipment used for diagnosis of patients with heart disease and 
cancer could be a key weapon in stopping nuclear waste seeping into the 
environment, according to new research.
A team of scientists from the Universities of Manchester and Leeds have 
joined forces with experts in nuclear medicine at Manchester Royal 
Infirmary, using medical gamma-ray cameras to track radioactive isotopes in 
soil samples from a US civil nuclear site.
This is the first time the technique, which is used in hospitals for heart, 
bone and kidney scanning, has been used to study the environmental behaviour 
of nuclear waste – and its success could help scientists find new ways of 
using bacteria to control the spread of radioactivity.
Radioactive isotopes of the element technetium (Tc) are produced in bulk by 
nuclear facilities, while a specific isotope of Tc with a very short life is 
routinely used as a medical tracer in human bodies.
Nuclear fission of Uranium has released tonnes of Tc from nuclear facilities 
over the past decades, with the element remaining radioactive for thousands 
of years.
But although the short lived medical isotope is chemically indistinguishable 
from that in long lived waste, it can be used safely in tests.
In the study researchers from The University of Manchester, led by Prof Jon 
Lloyd, took soil samples from the Oak Ridge nuclear facility in the United 
States and successfully tracked the movement of medical Tc through the soil.
Scientists at The University of Leeds were then asked to verify the 
observations using a special microscope technique called Transmission 
electron microscopy (TEM).
With the help of DNA analysis the Manchester team confirmed that certain 
microbes – and particularly some that use ferric iron for energy – can fix 
Tc in place in soils.
Researchers found that nearly all the Tc remained fixed when ferric iron was 
present with these 'iron-reducing' bacteria.
This finding itself is not new – Professor Lloyd and his colleagues had 
previously reported that microbes in laboratory cultures could perform this 
role in fixing Tc.
But the researchers' success in using the gamma camera could see the 
technique being used to probe how Tc and ferric iron move together in far 
more complex soil systems more representative of the 'real world' – helping 
develop future remediation techniques.
Prof Jon Lloyd from the School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental 
Science (SEAES) at The University of Manchester, said: "Using this medical 
scanning technique we were able to explore, in real time, the mobility of 
one of the most problematic and mobile radionuclides in sediments.
"Our success will allow scientists to accurately monitor the success of new 
biological methods in trapping radioactive elements in sediments and 
stopping them spreading further into the natural environment."
The findings coincide with the opening of a new Research Centre for 
Geological Disposal at The University, supported by a £1.4m endowment from 
BNFL, while a new Nuclear Medicine Centre recently opened at the Manchester 
Royal Infirmary, as part of the £500m Central Manchester Hospitals 
Prof Lloyd added: "Investment in these two diverse but important areas of 
scientific research has helped bring about interesting and unexpected 
research findings that could ultimately have great benefit for society."
Notes to editors
Prof Lloyd is available for comment by arrangement. For more information 
please contact Alex Waddington, Media Relations Officer, UoM, Tel 0161 275 
8387 / 07717 881569.
The research was published in a special edition of the American Chemical 
Society journal Environmental Science and Technology. A copy of the paper, 
'Probing the Biogeochemical Behaviour of Technetium Using a Novel Nuclear 
Imaging Approach' is available on request.

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