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Technology to detect nuclear exposure

A new tool for in-field analysis following a nuclear radiation incident can rapidly provide information on potential casualties and the overall contamination. An EU initiative developed a device to reduce the impact of a radiological emergency.

Digital Economy

Whether an intentional malicious act or an accident, risks of radiological exposure have frightened people for decades. Finding a way to understand the magnitude of a nuclear radiation accident could help in developing measures for prompt action and its containment. With EU funding, the 'Bio-dosimetric tools for triage to responders' (BOOSTER) project set out to design a portable toolbox that can be easily deployed at the accident site to measure the extent of radiation contamination. The overall objective was to measure contaminating radioactive particles that are deposited on the skin, inhaled or ingested. The consortium initially evaluated the radiological situation through real-time radiological measurements by dose-rate-meters, gamma camera for hot spot location and subsequently identified the radionuclides using specialised detectors and sensors. With respect to casualties, the device should also be able to identify those requiring immediate treatment. To this end, the team members developed new biodosimetric tools and integrated them with spectrometry techniques to characterise radiation exposure. All the sensors were then integrated into the toolbox and combined with existing crisis management software that can be used by first responders on site and in the command and control centres. In this way, operators can take full advantage of a centrally installed online decision-support system to go along with the toolbox. Lastly, a terrorist attack demonstration exercise in Hungary successfully tested the validity of the radiation dose assessment system. BOOSTER introduced emergency services to an integrated mobile solution that will help them quickly distinguish casualties after a radiological incident and determine further intervention. The system functionalities optimise crisis management following accidental or deliberate nuclear events that should help society overcome its anxiety.

Keywords

Nuclear exposure, radiation accident, triage of victims, radiation contamination, biodosimetric tools

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