Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Technology available to attend to mass casualties in nuclear disaster evaluated

Date:
February 19, 2014
Source:
Norris Cotton Cancer Center Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
Summary:
How would a city, state, or country handle a disaster in which hundreds of thousands of people were exposed to radiation? When the number of people involved exceeds the capacity of nearby hospitals, how would a community know who to treat? In a new scientific review, researchers say that by examining a person’s teeth or fingernails with specialized equipment, it is possible for first responders to estimate radiation exposure and identify those with the highest risk of illness. The review makes the case for field-based equipment that can easily and quickly allow first responders to decide who needs treatment for radiation exposure in a large-scale event such as major nuclear power plant malfunction or terrorism.

From left, Ben Williams, PhD; Ann Barry Flood, PhD; and Harold Swartz, MD, PhD, whose research has evaluated existing methods for evaluating radiation exposure among hundreds of thousands or even millions of people.
Credit: Geoffrey Holman

How would a city, state, or country handle a disaster in which hundreds of thousands of people were exposed to radiation? When the number of people involved exceeds the capacity of nearby hospitals, how would a community know who to treat? In a new scientific review published on February 12, 2014 in Radiation Environmental Biophysics, Dartmouth researchers say that by examining a person's teeth or fingernails with specialized equipment, it is possible for first responders to estimate radiation exposure and identify those with the highest risk of illness. The review makes the case for field-based equipment that can easily and quickly allow first responders to decide who needs treatment for radiation exposure in a large-scale event such as major nuclear power plant malfunction or terrorism.

Authors Harold M. Swartz, Benjamin Williams and Ann Flood at the EPR Center for the Study of Viable Systems, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, evaluate existing methods for evaluating radiation exposure among hundreds of thousands or even millions of people.

Biodosimetry is the method used to assess the amount of radiation energy a person has absorbed. Swartz and his colleagues identify a physically-based biodosimetry called EPR as the most promising front-line strategy for triage in a nuclear disaster.

Physically based biodosimetry measures tissue changes resulting from radiation exposure. It looks for the number of free radicals in tooth enamel or fingernails. Swartz and his colleagues have developed and tested an EPR biodosimetry device that can be operated in a church basement, tent, or gymnasium in a disaster by people with little training. The device provides the person's dose after only 5-10 minutes from start to finish.

"Teeth and nails serve like 'radiation badges' that everybody always has with them," said Harold M. Swartz, MD, PhD, MSPH, the Alma Hass Milham Distinguished Chair in Clinical Medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, and professor of radiology, of medicine, and of physiology. Swartz is also co-director of Norris Cotton Cancer Center's Cancer Imaging and Radiobiology Research Program.

Alternatives have been considered, such as embedding radiation-sensitive materials in objects commonly carried by people such as credit cards, cell phones, or watches. The wide range of materials used in these belongings make it difficult to have a uniform response.

"EPR biodosimetry has been used successfully in small accidents and in major events," said Swartz. "EPR of teeth and nails make them especially suitable for initial triage of large-scale radiation events."

EPR doesn't solve every problem. Blood tests and other diagnostic exams would still need to be done to help physicians develop a treatment plan. EPR evaluates cumulative radiation exposure, including what a person has received from routine X-rays or airline travel. It can't isolate just radiation exposure from the disaster. Its main purpose, however, is to find whether the person's dose is much larger than what people receive from such usual sources, suggesting they might need immediate treatment. Swartz and his colleagues hope to secure FDA approval for their EPR dosimetry device.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Norris Cotton Cancer Center Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Harold M. Swartz, Benjamin B. Williams, Ann Barry Flood. Overview of the principles and practice of biodosimetry. Radiation and Environmental Biophysics, 2014; DOI: 10.1007/s00411-014-0522-0

Cite This Page:

Norris Cotton Cancer Center Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. "Technology available to attend to mass casualties in nuclear disaster evaluated." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140219105359.htm>.
Norris Cotton Cancer Center Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. (2014, February 19). Technology available to attend to mass casualties in nuclear disaster evaluated. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140219105359.htm
Norris Cotton Cancer Center Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. "Technology available to attend to mass casualties in nuclear disaster evaluated." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140219105359.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Drone King Says the Revolution Depends on Regulators

China's Drone King Says the Revolution Depends on Regulators

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Comparing his current crop of drones to early personal computers, DJI founder Frank Wang says the industry is poised for a growth surge - assuming regulators in more markets clear it for takeoff. Jon Gordon reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand

3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand

AP (July 30, 2014) 3-D printing is a cool technology, but it's not exactly a hands-on way to make things. Enter the 3Doodler: the pen that turns you into the 3-D printer. AP technology writer Peter Svensson takes a closer look. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Climate Change Could Cost Billions, According To White House

Climate Change Could Cost Billions, According To White House

Newsy (July 29, 2014) A report from the White House warns not curbing greenhouse gas emissions could cost the U.S. billions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins