Tuesday, March 29, 2011

More practical advice for radiation exposure

In the years between 1981 and 2000, 50 people from around the world died from radiation exposure through local accidents of various causes, most of them not from nuclear reactors. Some were workers and some were from the public. In these accidents, hundreds of others were often exposed and became sick. In Spain, 11 people died from a linear accelorator accident. In Brazil, 4 died and hundreds were exposed from an abandoned medical test machine. I haven't been able to find records to see if these exposures caused further deaths from cancers, etc.

So in preparing for disasters, besides earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc., it is good to be prepared for a radiation exposure. We have talked about possible supplements to take in previous blogs. Listed here are some practical things to do if exposed acutely to radiation.

1. Account for family members and loved ones. Remember that often even when cell phone networks may not be working, texting will.

2. Take shelter. Find a place where windows and doors were not open during the exposure.

3. Remove clothing. After reaching a non-contaminated place immediately remove your clothes and put them in a plastic bag and place them outside. This will remove 90% of the contamination. You can later have authorities dispose of the bag safely.

4. Take a shower. Gently wash rather than scrub so there is not danger of breaking skin and gettting contamination inside. Use plenty of soap and water. Gently blow your nose and wipe your eyes with a gentle cloth. Pay special attention to feet, especially if there was any contact with radioactive water. Put anything used for cleaning in a plastic bag for disposal.

5. Seal out contaminants. Use plastic sheeting and duct tape to seal windows and doors, or if that is not possible, to create a sealed room of plastic walls. Close vents and flues, and anything else with the possibility of bringing outside air inside. If you have one, use a HEPA air filter to remove contaminants inside. This is a good product to have for your home anyway.

6. Consider respirator face masks. Regular face masks are not effective as they are not tight enough and some smaller particles can get through. However, respirator masks are quite protective. For more information go to www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/topics/respirators/factsheets/respfact.html.

7. Take potassium iodide and other supplements. See previous blogs for more information on these.

8. Consider taking Prussian Blue. In severe, acute exposure, there is a prescription medication called Prussian Blue that reduces the half life of Cesium and Thallium, allowing them to leave the body more quickly and thus reducing exposure damage. It must be prescribed by a doctor, so be sure and have access to your physician and a pharmacy. For more information on Prussian Blue go to http://www.bt.cdc.gov/radiation/prussianblue.asp.

9. Have other emergency supplies on hand. Things you would need in any emergency, such as a battery powered or hand crank radio, flashlight, etc., food, clean water, etc.

10. Be psychologically ready for disasters. The most difficult tole taken in disasters is psychological. Lives are disrupted and there is much fear about what is going to happen in the next days, months and years. Chronic fear and anxiety are often more harmful to the body than the things the body may be exposed to. Preparation reduces the fear, but if there is undue anxiety over the future and possible disasters, work through these with a trusted counselor.

Of course, none of us want to face the possibilities of going through what the Japanese are currently going through. But simple preparations and knowledge of what to do in any disaster reduces fear and risk.

Until we meet again,

Dr. Judi

No comments: