[ RadSafe ] Radioactive medicine being tracked through rivers

Stewart Farber SAFarber at optonline.net
Fri Mar 23 13:49:12 CDT 2012

The issue of radioactivity in discharges by hospitals into sanitary sewers
and the contamination of sewerage plant sludge and effluents has been
discussed widely and well regognized since the 1980s.  I recall seeing a
document issued by the NRC in the late 1980s specifically on this subject.

In 1991 the NRC modified 10CFR20 in issuing the following, which reads in
part as quoted below:


(b) Excreta from individuals undergoing medical diagnosis or therapy with
radioactive material are not subject to the limitations contained in
paragraph (a) of this section.

[56 FR 23403, May 21, 1991, as amended at 60 FR 20185, Apr. 25, 1995]

So a Hospital can discharge I-131 from patient excreta undergoing thyroid
ablations, each of which patient might receive 50 to 100 mCi or more. 

There is probably no major hospital in the US that does  not discharge many
multiples of 1 Curies [ 37 GBq ] of I-131. I believe there is no nuclear
plant in the US which comes close to discharging 1 Ci of I-131 either in
liquid or gaseous release.

In the 1970s when I was involved with the Maine Yankee Radiological
Environmental Monitoring Program [REMP], this 800 MWe generating plant
airborne Tech Spec release limit for I-131 was 50 millicuries, or less than
the I-131 administered in a single thyroid ablation procedure.

And this researcher mentioned immediately suspected when he found some
measurable I-131 that a nuclear plant must have been responsible for the
trace levels of I-131 he detected in his sediment studies. Humorous.
Apparently the Delaware academic has been listening too much to the
anti-nuke activists, who manage not just to deceive the general public with
crude manipulations of facts, but mislead scientists that one would hope
might know better. Of course when we hope for something sensible we are only
being hard on ourselves.

Stewart Farber, MS Public Health
SAFarber at optonline.net

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu
[mailto:radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu] On Behalf Of Dan McCarn
Sent: Friday, March 23, 2012 1:56 AM
To: The International Radiation Protection (Health Physics) Mailing List;
cs at udel.edu
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] Radioactive medicine being tracked through rivers

Hi Roy:

So another one of those wild & woolly "natural scientists" gets some
insights via radioactive tracers!  Sounds interesting!

Dan ii

Dan W McCarn, Geologist
108 Sherwood Blvd
Los Alamos, NM 87544-3425
+1-505-672-2014 (Home – New Mexico)
+1-505-670-8123 (Mobile - New Mexico)
HotGreenChile at gmail.com (Private email) HotGreenChile at gmail dot com

On Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 11:34 PM, ROY HERREN <royherren2005 at yahoo.com>
> http://www.udel.edu/udaily/2012/mar/medicine-rivers-sediment-032212.html
> Sediment sleuthing
> Radioactive medicine being tracked through rivers
>  10:56 a.m., March 22, 2012--A University of Delaware oceanographer has
> upon an unusual aid for studying local waterways: radioactive iodine. Roy
> _______________________________________________

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