On January 29 – 30 the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) together with the University of California and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) held technical discussions on radiological risks associated with using cesium-137 irradiators for research and blood irradiation.
Cesium-137 is an isotope used in medical equipment such as in last generation radiotherapy systems or irradiators. Used in most countries around the world, with hundreds in the United States alone, the concerns over the dangerous radioactive isotope being used in a terrorist attack, and its safe and responsible disposable have caused issues for a long time.
Significant advancements in technology in recent years have yielded safe and effective alternative non-radioactive x-ray devices that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, such as Xstrahl systems. Replacing the cesium-137 irradiators with these x-ray devices has both security and fiscal benefits: It requires less security and doesn’t require expensive disposal at the end of the machine’s life cycle.
The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) works with hospitals, governments and the private sector to raise awareness about the threat of cesium-137 and other dangerous isotopes, and to encourage responsible use, where feasible, of safe and effective alternative technologies for eliminating the threat permanently.
Lynn Sponholz, Business Development Director “The use of Cesium-137 poses a huge potential threat. I am glad NTI is bringing awareness to these risks, which are easy to mitigate by replacing gamma source equipment with safe x-ray systems. The events like this help educate research and healthcare professionals about the availability of safe and effective alternative technology that can help eliminate the threat of cesium-137. We are happy to support NTI in order to raise awareness and make the world a little safer place.”
Working with the framework of safe disposal, the US Department Of Energy (DOE) has introduced a funding program called CIRP (Cesium Irradiation Replacement Program). In an effort to reclaim as many Cesium and Cobalt research and medical instruments based on national security. The DOE is offering a no cost removal of old Cesium and Cobalt systems and will provide a purchase credit to cover half the cost (up to $135,000.00) of a new and safer technology like X-ray. For more information about whether you qualify for this program, please go to their website.