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Body of cancer patient left radioactive material in Arizona crematorium



Crematorium of Arizona was infected with radiation after cremation of a patient who received radiopharmaceutical treatment, according to a new example.

Radioactive materials have different uses in medicine, both for diagnosis and for treatment. Occasionally, the question is what to do with the body after the patient died, a problem for which there are no federal rules. In the United States, where the cremation rate exceeds 50 percent, the effect of radiation contamination after the cremation of the patient receiving radiopharmaceutical treatment is particularly important.

"Without regulation, communication is very important" in such cases, Kevin Nelson, author of a study at the Department of Diagnostic Radiology at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, told Arizona. This communication has not happened here.

The study provides examples of a 69-year-old man with an unusual tumor in the pancreas who received radioactive treatment intravenously, called lutetium-1

77. He suddenly died two days later in another hospital, where he received his radiotherapy. This hospital did not tell the funeral home / crematorium about its radiotherapy, and the days after it was cremated. After the researchers learned about the case, they asked the Arizona radiation control office whether there were rules for these situations. They did not exist, and the Bureau sent representatives for the survey crematorium. The researchers also checked the cremator's urine to determine if the operator was unintentionally exposed to radioactive lutetium

In fact, the equipment was exposed by a Geiger counter used to measure radiation with a maximum exposure of 7.5. mR at an hour when the meter touched the equipment. This is almost 200 times the average radiation that is felt by people living at sea level, with the fact that radiation is rapidly decreasing from distance, so the operator will not get such an exposure level only from standing in the room. In addition, lutetium splits into non-radioactive elements, so after about two months there were no detected levels of radiation, Nelson said.

The crematory operator did not have lutetium in the urine, but researchers found a small amount

"The crematorium operator never had technetium 99m introduced as part of the procedure," Nathan Yu, author of the study at the radiation oncology department at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, state of Arizona – said Gizmodo. "This reveals one of the mechanisms by which there is a potential superfluous exposure for crematorial workers."

The researchers noted that the operator probably did not receive more than the exposure limit set by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Nevertheless, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, "further research is needed to assess the frequency and extent of radiation contamination and the effects of repeated or prolonged exposure of workers in crematoria in the United States."

I appealed to the National Association of Funeral Directors on what this means for the operators of cremators, and the representative made the following statement:

Given the widespread use of radiation in nuclear medicine (diagnosis and treatment) and radiation oncology (cancer treatment)) procedures in the United States of America and around the world, it's likely that crematoria operators are caring for the bodies of those who have undergone such treatment. One of the principles of the Certified Program for the operators of the National Association of Funeral Craft Association is to ensure that the crematorial operator has the necessary information about the deceased for the safe conduct of cremation. Crematorial operators are expected to be informed of the presence of any device, including pacemakers, radioactive implants, or other implanted devices, which may require special measures if they are placed in a cremation chamber and heated. This article reports the only case involving individual cremation that has been treated with certain radionuclides for pancreatic tumors and who died shortly after treatment and was cremated for about ninety days after treatment. Before the cremation, the operator had not been given any reports of cancer treatment, including whether appropriate measures were in place in these conditions. The NFDA supports further study on this issue and welcomes recommendations on how the health and safety of crematorium and community staff can be protected as much as possible, including, as research shows, assessing the radioactivity of deceased patients to cremation and ensuring that operators Crematories received a message that is sufficient to apply appropriate security measures, if necessary.

This is not the first time anyone has realized that patients with radiopharmaceutical products may leave residual radiation after themselves, but this is one of the first studies to report infection by the institution itself. However, this is just an example, which means that it is not necessarily representative of the model. The authors of the study recommend that agents should check dead patients for radioactivity to cremation.

Yu. Gizmodo said the next step is to "determine the frequency and scope of this issue and see if there are potential effects for repeat actions." and the long-term impact of these workers. "


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