[ RadSafe ] Radioactive medicine being tracked through rivers

Miller, Mark L mmiller at sandia.gov
Mon Mar 26 09:04:24 CDT 2012

Not to confuse anti-nukes with the FACTS, but medical facilities WORLDWIDE discharge significant (a.k.a. spew massive) quantities of radiopharmaceuticals into wastewater every day (and there's a good technical justification for the practice).  But then, that's GOOD RAD rather than BAD RAD.  Heavy sigh.

-----Original Message-----
From: Stewart Farber [mailto:SAFarber at optonline.net] 
Sent: Friday, March 23, 2012 12:49 PM
To: 'The International Radiation Protection (Health Physics) Mailing List'
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] Radioactive medicine being tracked through rivers

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.ht
> ml
> 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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