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Updated: May 2, 2010 15:33 IST

BARC issues acute radiation exposure guidelines

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A team from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board conducts searches at the premises of Delhi University’s Chemistry Dept., in the radiation leak case on Saturday. Photo: R.V.Moorthy
A team from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board conducts searches at the premises of Delhi University’s Chemistry Dept., in the radiation leak case on Saturday. Photo: R.V.Moorthy

Experts from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre have cautioned people in Delhi’s Mayapuri area about the possible physical symptoms due to acute radiation exposures of high dose. They have asked the public to immediately report to authorities if such symptoms were noticed.

“Symptoms of acute (high) radiation exposure are radiation burns, loss of hair and nausea and vomiting. However, nausea and vomiting can be initiated by other reasons including anxiety,” health physicians and safety experts of BARC told PTI.

People should not be carried away by rumours regarding the incident, they said.

“Rumours can create panic. Cases of people suspecting themselves as affected will go up. In such incidents, people can look for such symptoms carefully and report to the police in Mayapuri,” they said.

The Mayapuri police station was cooperative with Radiation Emergency Response system (RERS) during the entire operation carried out last month and continues to help the joint team of DAE-AERB-RERS for further investigation, which is on to search for more suspected sources in the area.

The National Disaster Management Authority, along with BARC health division, has already issued some of the safety measures to be taken up by people in the affected area.

The measures include taking additional caution with potential sources of contamination (do not get attracted by any shiny objects and report to police immediately if found); no eating, drinking, smoking in potentially contaminated areas; keep hands away from mouth; cover open wounds, avoid smoke and wash hands after working with radioactive material or leaving a “suspected area“.

When asked about the radiation dose limits and level for biological damage, the BARC scientists explained as follows:

Dose limits and level for biological damage

Natural Radiation exposure — 2.5 mSv

Yearly dose limit for public — 1.0 mSv

Yearly dose limit for occupational workers — 20 mSv

Dose level at which chromosomal aberrations can be measured — 100 mSv

Dose at which nausea, vomiting may start — approx 1000 mSv (1 Sv)

Dose level for 50 per cent death of exposed population in 60 days — approx 4000 mSv (4 Sv)

Dose level for nil survival without medical support — more than 10,000 mSv (10 Sv)

(Sv denotes Sievert, a measure of radiation dose. mSv is milliSievert)

A senior official of Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) told PTI that all efforts are on to save persons who were exposed to high radiation.

Deepak Jain, the shop owner and the first person admitted in the hospital, although exposed to a very high dose, is showing signs of improvements.

However, Ajay Jain who kept the Cobalt-60 source in his personal pocket is very critical.

Others are improving once the doctors came to know the line of treatment, the official said.

The search for missing Cobalt-60 sources is still on and will continue for some more time, he added.

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