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Volume 16, Number 4, 2011

Decontamination of radioisotopes

Luis Domínguez-Gadeaa, Laura Cerezo


Contaminations with radioactive material may occur in several situations related to medicine, industry or research. Seriousness of the incident depends mainly on the radioactive element involved; usually there are no major acute health effects, but in the long term can cause malignancies, leukemia, genetic defects and teratogenic anomalies.

The most common is superficial contamination, but the radioactive material can get into the body and be retained by the cells of target organs, injuring directly and permanently sensitive elements of the body. Rapid intervention is very important to remove the radioactive material without spreading it. Work must be performed in a specially prepared area and personnel involved should wear special protective clothing. For external decontamination general cleaning techniques are used, usually do not require chemical techniques. For internal decontamination is necessary to use specific agents, according to the causative element, as well physiological interventions to enhance elimination and excretion.

Signature: Rep Pract Oncol Radiother, 2011; 16(4) : 147-152

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