[ RadSafe ] Nuc Med pt x-contamination of other people

Joseph Shonka jjshonka at shonka.com
Fri Dec 2 13:26:53 CST 2011

Hi Stewart

Prostate cancer is treated with radioactive seeds the size of a grain of
rice.  One of the precautions listed for the treatment is to use condoms
since seeds can be ejected into the partner during sexual intercourse.  Not
sure if this is another case of "cross contamination."

Joe Shonka

On Fri, Dec 2, 2011 at 1:54 PM, Stewart Farber <SAFarber at optonline.net>wrote:

> Hi all,
> Regarding the issue of "cross-contamination" of sorts involving I-131 from
> various practices, the following may be of interest to some. David North
> mentioned some interesting measurements he made following thyroid ablations
> [which typically involves no less than 50 milli-Ci or 1.85E9 Bq of I-131].
> He mentioned some positive measurements in some family members including
> pets above a detection level of 1/10,000 of the I-131 administration which
> would equate to something over 185,000 Bq cross contamination. Concerning
> another "cross-contamination" of sorts from a nuclear plant to
> environmental
> media consider the following.
> I used to review environmental rad monitoring program data for a number of
> nuclear plants in New England including Maine Yankee Nuclear Power Station
> --at the time at 900 MW[e] was the largest power plant in New England. The
> annual airborne I-131 release limit for this one nuclear station was
> coincidentally equal to that activity used in a single thyroid ablation or
> 50 milli-Ci = 1.85 billion Bq.  At levels slightly above the annual average
> allowable airborne  I-131 release rate from Maine Yankee [1.85 E9 Bq/year=
> 5 E6 Bq/day] we were able to measure I-131 in milk at nearby farms at
> levels
> of a few Bq/Liter [ less than 10 pico-Curies/Liter].
> It is likely that with the number of thyroid ablation procedures performed
> on people, and animals like cats at many vet centers, that if one made
> sensitive environmental measurements near some non-power related facilities
> that I-131 activity could be measured even in various environmental media,
> including air in the general environment not just in sewage systems or
> solid
> waste of many sorts.
> Stewart Farber, MS Public Health
> SAFarber at optonline.net
> 203-441-8433
> -----Original Message-----
> From: radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu
> [mailto:radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu] On Behalf Of North, David
> Sent: Friday, December 02, 2011 10:17 AM
> To: The International Radiation Protection (Health Physics) Mailing List
> Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] Nuc Med pt x-contamination of other people
> I did an investigation of the cross-contamination of household members
> after
> patients were sent home following large doses of I-131 for metastatic
> thyroid cancer. I counted the thyroids of 43 people and 7 dogs living with
> the patients. Three people and four dogs were positive at the level of
> about
> 1/10000 of the administered doses. Most of the dogs were licking the
> patients, I think. A couple were definitely too small to drink out of the
> toilets! (I submitted this to Health Physics for publication, was asked to
> revise it a bit, and then I got REALLY busy clinically. So, I will probably
> have to submit it all over again when I can get back to it.)
> Anyway, it does happen occasionally, but doesn't seem to involve a lot of
> activity.
> David L. North, Sc.M., DABR
> Associate Physicist
> Main Building, Rm 317
> Rhode Island Hospital
> 593 Eddy St.
> Providence, RI 02903
> w: (401)444-5961
> f: (401) 444-4446
> dnorth at lifespan.org
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Joseph J. Shonka, Ph.D.
Shonka Research Associates, Inc.
5199 Sandlewood Court
Marietta, GA 30068

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