cancer, experiments, health and safety, hidden hazards, Hollins university, lab, public health, radiation, radioactive needle, radium, radium 226, radium needle, Research, risk management, risks of ionizing radiation, science
“The lead pig was found inside the drawer in Dana Science Building Chemistry Lab. A radiation level of 12 mR/hr was measured at about one foot from the pig… Based on the Health Physicist’s investigation and activity calculation, the pig contains a one millicurie (1 mCi) Ra-226 needle.” “Event Report ID: VA-16-11” http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/event-status/event/2016/20160726en.html
Lead lined container “pig” can also be box shaped.
One Ci (Curie) is 37 billion radioactive disintegrations (shots) per second. 1 mCi is 37 million radioactive disintegrations (shots) per second. Radium 226 has a half-life of 1600 years. For external dosage, this 12 mR/hr is approximately 12 mrem per hour, according to the US NRC (these are obsolete units).
This was really dangerous. A radiation level of 12 mrem per hour one foot away while shielded in a lead box. How long was it there? Since it is radium, it may have been on campus a very long time. Hollins University appears to have recently received a grant to renovate the building, although it doesn’t look very old. One may suspect that this radium needle may have been brought from an even older building.
If a professor had a desk one foot away and worked 10 hours per day 360 days per year then they would get 43,200 mrem or 432 mSv per year. For Ph.D. students and professors trying to get tenure, this is a realistic scenario. It could even be 12 hours per day, every day. According to the BEIR report, within a population, there will be a 1% excess cancer rate due to exposure to 100 mSv. This would be over 4% per year. More recent research suggests 15% per 100 mSv, meaning that this could be 65% excess cancer rate. Clearly, getting a Ph.D. or tenure working at a nearby desk could easily lead to cancer, which may be life-shortening on average by 14 to 15 years. https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/12/19/another-look-at-the-recent-low-dose-radiation-exposure-study-inworks/
Event Number: 52094
Rep Org: VIRGINIA RAD MATERIALS PROGRAM
Licensee: HOLLINS UNIVERSITY
City: ROANOKE State: VA
NRC Notified By: ASFAW FENTA
HQ OPS Officer: DONG HWA PARK
Notification Date: 07/15/2016
Notification Time: 14:24 [ET]
Event Date: 06/17/2016
Event Time: [EDT]
Last Update Date: 07/15/2016
Emergency Class: NON EMERGENCY
10 CFR Section:
MARC FERDAS (R1DO)
AGREEMENT STATE REPORT – RADIOACTIVE NEEDLE FOUND
The following was received via email:
“On June 17, 2016, RSO, Inc., contacted Virginia Radioactive Material Program (RMP) to arrange an investigation on a lead pig found at Hollins University, Roanoke, Virginia. On June 22, 2016, two inspectors from the RMP went to the University to observe the investigation performed by Health Physicist from the RSO, Inc. The lead pig was found inside the drawer in Dana Science Building Chemistry Lab. A radiation level of 12 mR/hr was measured at about one foot from the pig. The Health Physicist used a hand-held gamma spectrometer (Bicron Identifier) to identify the radionuclide as Ra-226. The health physicist performed calculation and also opened the pig carefully to identify the type of Ra-226. He developed and followed safety procedures to open the pig. Leak tests were performed and no removable contamination was detected.
“Based on the Health Physicist’s investigation and activity calculation, the pig contains a one millicurie (1 mCi) Ra-226 needle.
“RSO, Inc., is currently working with the University to arrange for the disposal of the source. This report will be updated when the RMP received the final disposal report.
“Event Report ID: VA-16-11”
One Ci (Curie) is 37 billion radioactive disintegrations (shots) per second. 1 mCi is 37 million radioactive disintegrations (shots) per second. Radium 226 has a half-life of 1600 years
“For practical purposes, 1 R (exposure) = 1 rad (absorbed dose) = 1 rem or 1000 mrem (dose equivalent)“. http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/radiation/health-effects/measuring-radiation.html (It is unclear if the “practical purposes” is for external radiation only, or includes internal radiation. In the international system, Gy needs to be weighted to get Sv. It seems that it is a sealed source and radon should not be an issue, unless there is a leak.)
More pictures and info on radium needles: http://www.orau.org/ptp/collection/brachytherapy/needlestubescase.htm