Facts About Radioactive Contamination and Radiation Exposure

Radioactive contamination occurs when radioactive material is deposited on or in an object or a person. Radioactive materials released into the environment can cause air, water, surfaces, soil, plants, buildings, people, or animals to become contaminated. A contaminated person has radioactive materials on or inside their body. Internal contamination occurs when people swallow or breathe in radioactive materials, or when radioactive materials enter the body through open wounds or are absorbed through the skin. This radioactive materials may be deposited into a persons body organs. Other types of radioactive materials are eliminated from the body in blood, sweat, urine, and feces.

Radioactive materials can be released into the environment by a nuclear power plant accident, an atomic bomb explosion, an accidental release from a medical or industrial device, nuclear weapons testing, an intentional release of radioactive material as an act of terrorism.

People who have external contamination with radioactive material can contaminate other people or surfaces that they touch.

People can limit contamination by 1) Get out of the immediate. Go inside the nearest safe building 2) Remove the outer layer of clothing. If radioactive material is on a persons clothing, taking the clothes off reduces the external contamination and decreases the risk of internal contamination as well as reducing the time the perosn is exposed to radiation 3) Place the clothing in a plastic bag or leave it in an out-of-the-way area, such as the corner of a room. Keep cuts and abrasions covered when handling contaminated items to avoid getting radioactive material in them 4) wash all of the exposed parts of your body using lots of soap and lukewarm water to remove contamination 5) Medication can be provided if it is determined that the person had internal comination this medication can reduce the radioactive material in one’s body.

Reference: www.cdc.gov for more information go to www.bt.cdc.gov/radiation

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