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The radiological accident in Goiania An overview of dosimetric and medical aspects: 

The radiological accident in Goiania An overview of dosimetric and medical aspects Cincinnati, 2000

What is it about ? : 

What is it about ? The accident occurred in September 1987 in Goiania where a group of people and the environment were contaminated by Cs-137 as a consequence of the rupture of a medical teletherapy source Goiania is the capital of the Brazilian state of Goias. It had about 8 hundred thousand inhabitants at the time of the accident Goiania is located 1000 miles from Rio de Janeiro and 600 miles from São Paulo, where the main Brazilian radiation protection centers are located.

Where is Goiania? Well... Where is Brazil ???: 

Where is Goiania? Well... Where is Brazil ???

What led to the accident ?: 

What led to the accident ? In 1985, the Goiania Institute of Radiotherapy moved to a new location taking a Cobalt-60 teletherapy and discharging an obsolete Cesium-137 teletherapy unit in a partially demolished session of the old building in downtown Goiania Hospital owners informed Brazilian authorities about the Cobalt-60 unit but not about the Cesium-137 unit Brazilian authorities argued the owners of the hospital two times by regular mail about the destination of the Cs-137 unit but no reply was received until the accident occurred


How did it happen? Two young men without permanent jobs looking for a way to make some money learned that there was a heavy equipment at an abandoned and partially demolished hospital building in downtown Goiania Possibly on September 13, they forced the entrance of the building and decided to remove the shielding head of the teletherapy unit and sell it to a junk yard. So they did. The two men, the owner of the junk yard and his two employees initiated attempts to dismantle the equipment

The accident (cont..): 

The accident (cont..) The rotating assembly and a capsule containing about 1400 Curies of Cesium-137 were dismantled presumably on September 18 The capsule was ruptured and the cesium released Pieces of the source were distributed among the junk yard owner’s relatives, neighbors and most close friends Everyone was impressed with the “power of the stone” as it glowed blue in the dark. Some of them scrubbed the material on the skin in order to appreciate its brightness Residences about 100 miles from Goiania were found with cesium contamination

The accident (cont..): 

The accident (cont..) The owner’s wife observed the occurrence of the first symptoms of acute radiation syndrome among her relatives and decided to look for medical assistance at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases Pieces of the source were put in a bag that she took along with her by bus to the hospital On September 29, the Brazilian Nuclear Energy Commission was notified by a goianian physicist about the occurrence of a serious radiological accident

First countermeasures and contamination survey: 

First countermeasures and contamination survey About 112000 people (10 % of the total population) were monitored at the Olympic Stadium using survey meters 250 were identified as contaminated 50 contaminated people were isolated in a camping area inside the Olympic Stadium for more detailed screening 20 people were hospitalized or transferred to special housing with medical and nursing assistance 8 patients transferred to the Navy Hospital in Rio de Janeiro Contamination survey in the residences was initiated

Early consequences of the accident: 

Early consequences of the accident Four fatalities (2 men, 1 woman and 1 child) Radiation induced skin injuries observed in 28 patients Widespread contamination of downtown Goiania External exposure to members of the public Four main foci of contamination identified: 3 junkyards and 1 residence 85 residences found to have significant levels of contamination (41 of these were evacuated and a few were completely or partially demolished)

Hematological aspects: 

Hematological aspects Critical phase of the ARS (acute radiation syndrome) characterized by hematological injury 14 patients developed bone marrow depression 8 had classical signs and symptoms of ARS 4 died due to bleeding diathesis and infection (sepsis) caused by Klebsiella

Monitoring of internal contamination: 

Monitoring of internal contamination In vitro bioassay (excreta samples were collected in Goiania and sent to IRD in Rio de Janeiro) In vivo measurements (a whole body counter was set up in Goiania in November at the General Hospital) 4 out of 8 patients transferred to the Navy Hospital in Rio de Janeiro were monitored in IRD before they were transferred back to Goiania in November In March 1988 a Bioassay Laboratory was set up in Goiania to perform in vivo and in vitro measurements during the follow up phase

Internal contamination: 

Internal contamination Ingestion was considered to be the main pathway 50 people isolated and hospitalized with internal and external contamination Prussian blue (ferric ferrocyanide) was administered to some individuals to enhance elimination 21 treated with Prussian blue (recommended dosage = 3 g/d) 29 not treated with Prussian blue Prussian blue was effective in most cases Highest internal dose was about 4 Gy (6 yo girl who ate a sandwich while playing with a piece of the source)

External doses: 

External doses Estimated by chromosome aberration analysis 129 subjects evaluated 5 exceeded 3 Gy 16 exceeded 1Gy 24 exceeded 0.5 Gy

Late consequences of the accident: 

Late consequences of the accident Intense psychological consequences amongst the population such as fear and depression. Discrimination against the victims and important products of local economy Large amounts of money spent during and after the recovering phases Need for the construction of a large deposit to store the radioactive waste Complete revision of Brazilian regulations related to the storage and use of radiation sources

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