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Ruthenium 106 is both a chemical and radiological hazard. With a half-life of over one year, Ruthenium 106 will stay radioactive in the environment for well over a decade. With an average half-life in the body of over 100 days, it will stay radioactive in the body for years, continuing to shoot out ionizing radiation, some of which will cause damage which may lead to cancer or other health problems. Here a combination of exposure level, random chance, and immune system apparently come into play in determining the outcome. Clustered DNA damage is uniquely caused by ionizing radiation and nearly impossible to correctly repair, and one must then hope that the body will simply destroy/clean-up any serious damage.

There is no safe dose of ionizing radiation. Increased dose is increased risk. So, when some “experts” say that the (radioactive) Ruthenium 106, which was noticed in low levels in Europe, and high levels in Russia, is not dangerous, they are lying. The risk for the overall population in Europe is just lower with lower concentrations in air. The outcome for those individuals who inhale or ingest those particles may not be good, but the cause of any cancers or other health problems will remain unproveable, because there are so many man-made radioactive materials still causing cancer and other health problems in Europe, the US, and elsewhere from nuclear weapons testing, Chernobyl, the Mayak accident, Windscale, nuclear waste processing, operating nuclear reactors, Fukushima, etc. There is also some additional risk caused by natural radiation (On this last see Spycher et. al. below).

This is the US NRC debating the risks of ruthenium in “spent” (i.e. used) nuclear reactor fuel stored or transported at room temperature.

25.4 deg C is slightly under 78 F (77.72 F). 40 deg C is 104 F.
Krzysztof Parczewski is Senior Chemical Engineer, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, US NRC. As of 2010, Timothy E. Collins was Senior Level Advisor for Reactor Safety Systems, Division of Safety Systems, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, US NRC. https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1016/ML101670536.pdf

Already in 1950, William Russell of Oak Ridge National (Nuclear) Lab stated regarding ionizing radiation: “There is no threshold dose. In other words, genetic changes may be expected at any dose, no matter how small…” And, in fact, over the course of the last 67 years, researchers keep discovering that the risks of ionizing radiation are higher than previously claimed. A 2015 study suggests that cancer risk from ionizing radiation is around 15 times higher than the US National Academy of Sciences BEIR VII (2006) report estimated, and maybe even higher. There are well-known risks of heart disease and cataracts, too. Cataract-heart disease damage occurs at lower doses than previously admitted, as well. See: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/12/19/another-look-at-the-recent-low-dose-radiation-exposure-study-inworks

According to the water purification company LennTech, “All ruthenium compounds should be regarded as highly toxic and as carcinogenic“. Furthermore, they say that “ingested ruthenium is retained strongly in bones“. They state that RuO4 (Ruthenium Tetraoxide) is both volatile and highly toxic. (See LennTech .com). Ruthenium 106 was discharged into the atmosphere during above ground nuclear weapons testing. With a half-life of a little over a year, it will remain radioactive for over a decade and so causes cancers for decades to come.

the ability of ruthenium complexes to mimic the binding of iron to molecules of biological significance, exploiting the mechanisms that the body has evolved for transport of iron.”(“DNA binding mode of ruthenium complexes and relationship to tumor cell toxicity.”, by Brabec V1, Nováková O, Drug Resist Updat. 2006 Jun;9(3):111-22. Epub 2006 Jun 21, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16790363 )

As an iron mimic, ruthenium 106 thus appears to have the trojan horse potential of plutonium: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/02/26/plutonium-trojan-horse-in-the-body/

While it has become popular to talk about ROS damage from radiation (e.g. Timothy Mousseau), ROS occurs in everyday life in contrast to radiation induced clustered DNA damage which is unique to radiation-damage and nearly impossible to correctly repair: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reactive_oxygen_species.

Clustered DNA damage is considered a signature of ionizing radiation: “clustered DNA damage sites, which may be considered as a signature of ionising radiation, underlie the deleterious biological consequences of ionising radiation…ionising radiation creates significant levels of clustered DNA damage, including complex double-strand breaks (DSB)” See: “Biological Consequences of Radiation-induced DNA Damage: Relevance to Radiotherapy“, by M.E. Lomax et. al. Clinical Oncology 25 (2013) 578-585.

The formation of clustered damage distinguishes ionising radiation-induced damage from normal endogenous damage“: https://cordis.europa.eu/pub/fp5-euratom/docs/non_dsb_lesions_projrep_en.pdf More here: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2016/12/24/on-the-unique-dna-damage-done-by-ionizing-radiation-nuclear-materials-and-on-metting-hultgren-et-al-misleading-the-us-congress-in-this-matter/

A US government 1957 study about the biological half-life of Ruthenium, how long it stays in the body, as opposed to in the environment:

Willard, D.H. & Temple, L.A. & Bair, W.J.. (1957)
Whole body turnover and tissue distribution of ruthenium in mice were studied for 427 days after single intratracheal injections of Ru 106 O2. Because of a continuously changing rate of turnover several values for the biological half-life were calculated. Following the early period of high turnover rate the biological half-life was 280 days when estimated by resolution of the turnover curve into a series of three exponentials. The retention of Ru 106 was best represented by a power function and the average biological half- life obtained by integration of the power function curve over a period of 230 days was 170 days. Integration of the exponential curve over the same period gave an average half-life of 110 days. After 164 days a portion of the animals were sacrificed to determine the tissue distribution of Ru 106. The total body burden was 12 per cent of the initial dose with 92 per cent of the body burden in the lungs. Other tissues showing high concentrations of Ru were the lymph nodes, spleen, kidney, and ovaries.

J BAIR, W & H WILLARD, D & A TEMPLE, L. (1961). “The Behavior of Inhaled Ru106O2 Particles“. Health physics. 5. 90-8. 10.1097/00004032-196103000-00012 (Even though this is a US government document, and should be public domain, we were unable even to get the abstract without retyping, which we opted not to do. It may be read online. The other article, another US government study, is available from India. )

Most nuclear fuel is now “high burn-up”:
High Burn-up fuel promotes the Ru release probably due to a higher oxygen potential inside fuel“. http://www.sar-net.eu/sites/default/files/ERMSAR_2015/Papers/Source_Term_Issues/040_Miradji_final.pdf

Source term issues: Paper N° 040
The 7th European Review Meeting on Severe Accident Research (ERMSAR-2015) Marseille, France, 24-26 March 2015 Modelling of Ru behaviour in oxidative accident conditions and first source term assessmentsF. Miradji1,4, F. Cousin1, S. Souvi1, V. Vallet2, J. Denis3, V. Tanchoux3, L. Cantrel1,4 (1) Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire, PSN-RES, SAG, Cadarache, 13115 Saint Paul Lez Durance, France (2) Laboratoire de Physique des Lasers, Atomes et Molécules (PhLAM), UMR 8523 CNRS, Université Lille1, Sciences et Technologies, 59655 Villeneuve d’Ascq, France (3) Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire, PSN-RES, SAG, 92260 Fontenay-aux-Roses, France (4) Laboratoire Commun IRSN-CNRS-Lille1 « Cinétique Chimique, Combustion, Réactivité » (C3R), Cadarache 13115 Saint Paul Lez Durance, France

For oxidative conditions in the core fuel in case of severe accident, ruthenium compounds can be released in large amount through oxides formation, next transported through the Reactor Coolant System (RCS) and reach the nuclear containment building either in particulate form or under gaseous form as supported by the available experimental database.

A review of the experiments concerning
– Ru release from degraded fuel ;
– Ru transport in a thermal gradient tube simulating the RCS ;
– Ru behaviour inside the nuclear containment building;
allows us developing a first draft modelling for Ru chemistry behavior in severe accident for PSA-2 applications. First Ru Source Terms (ST) have been calculated with the associated radiological consequences and, it lead to potentially high radiological consequences knowing that conservatism assumptions were made due to some remaining high uncertainty concerning Ru behavior. Additional experimental data combined with more fundamental works based on theoretical chemistry computations are ongoing to be able to build a mechanistic modelling which will be further implemented in ASTEC software as well as PSA-2 tools. At last, the R&D priorities which look necessary to close the issue are given….

Article here: http://www.sar-net.eu/sites/default/files/ERMSAR_2015/Papers/Source_Term_Issues/040_Miradji_final.pdf


LANL notes that they Ruthenium compounds act similarly to toxic heavy metal Cadmium:
Ruthenium compounds show a marked resemblance to those of cadmium.

Some more information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transition_metal

Important point for the record: “The worldwide annual dose of 2 mSv represents total background radiation and includes inhaled radon gas and ingested radionuclides. The appropriate comparison is with cosmic and terrestrial gamma radiation, which together contribute an annual average of 0.9 mSv worldwide (UNSCEAR 2000),“, in “Response to ‘Comment on ‘Background Ionizing Radiation and the Risk of Childhood Cancer: A Census-Based Nationwide Cohort Study“. By Ben D. Spycher,1 Martin Röösli,2,3 Matthias Egger,1 and Claudia E. Kuehni1 1Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland; 2Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland; 3University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland, volume 123 | number 8 | August 2015 • Environmental Health Perspectives, https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1510111r/