[ RadSafe ] Radioactive medicine being tracked through rivers

Ed Johnson cejjr56 at gmail.com
Tue Mar 27 10:29:24 CDT 2012

"Dilute and disperse" has been the governing policy for a long time and, in
the case of medical isotope discharges, is a reasonable approach due to the
relatively short half-life of most radionuclides used for diagnostic and
therapeutic services.  This policy has, of course, also been applied to
non-medical licensees, and the environmental consequences for discharging
longer-lived nuclides is a trickier situation due to the dynamics of
sedimentary adsorption, uptake by aquatic flora and fauna, bioaccumulation,
biomagnification, etc.

The exemption for excreta in the NRC's rule raises an interesting
question:  what fraction of a hospital's total discharged activity is due
to excreta versus laboratory analytical activities?  My WAG is that it is
way more than 50%.  Anybody know if this has been studied?  Might be a good
graduate thesis topic.

Edward Johnson

On Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 1:02 AM, John Ahlquist
<john.ahlquist at sbcglobal.net>wrote:

> Actually it goes even further back.  When I was on loan to the Radiological
> Analysis Branch of AEC Regulatory in 1973-4, this was an issue for
> licensing the
> Palo Verdes nuclear plant.  Their cooling water comes from municipal sewage
> treatment plants.  Excreted I-131 in the evaporating  effluent cooling
> water was
> a critical airborne pathway.  I don't recall the details but that source
> was of
> in the order of magnitude or larger than what the plant would emit.
> In the late 70s or early 80s, Frazier Bronson had a technique to measure
> such
> releases down to a few atoms and could see it in many places.
> John Ahlquist
> On Mar 23, 2012, at 1:49 PM, Stewart Farber wrote:
> > 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
> > d
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