Screening for Radioactive Contamination and Health Monitoring of a Large Population Who Do Not Need Hospitalization

Armin Ansari PhD
Radiation Studies Branch
National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Atlanta Georgia USA

Abstract

Following a large-scale radiation incident, there will be people who may be contaminated with radioactive materials or think that they have been exposed to radiation or contaminated with radioactivity. This population does not need hospitalization, but they need to be monitored for radioactive contamination, provided assistance with decontamination, and registered for subsequent follow-up and health monitoring if necessary. Depending on the nature of the incident, the number of people in need of such services could reach tens or hundreds of thousands. Without adequate and advanced planning, it would be difficult to meet the needs of this population. If so, many of them may seek assistance from area hospitals and overwhelm the already-scarce hospital resources. Furthermore, many people who evacuate the affected areas will need shelter and other health-related services. Examples from past radiation accidents and the most recent accident at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will be described. The burden of providing radiation screening and monitoring services is likely to fall on local authorities who host this displaced population. This presentation will discuss strategies and resources that are available to local public health, medical and emergency management officials to plan for population monitoring activities using – to the extent possible - locally available resources.