TABLE 1.

Radionuclides Produced After a Radiation Disaster

ElementSymbolSourceRadiationRespiratory AbsorptionGastrointestinal AbsorptionPrimary ToxicityTreatment
Americium241AmNWDAlpha75%MinimalSkeletal, liver deposition, bone marrow suppressionDTPA, EDTA
Cesium137CeMFBeta, gammaCompleteCompleteWhole body irradiationPrussian blue
Cobalt60CoMF, FIBeta, gammaHigh<5%Whole body irradiationSupportive
Iodine*131INWD, NPPBeta, gammaHighHighThyroid ablation, cancerPotassium iodide
Phosphorous32PMFBetaHighHighRapidly dividing cellsAluminum hydroxide antacids
Plutonium238,239PuNW, NWDAlpha, gammaHighMinimalLung, bone, liverDTPA, EDTA
Strontium90SrNWDBeta, gammaLimitedModerateBone-follows calciumSupportive
  • Adapted from Jarrett DG. Medical Management of Radiological Casualties. Bethesda, MD: Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute; 1999.

    NWD indicates nuclear weapon detonation; DTPA, diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid; EDTA, edetic acid (ethylene-dinitrillo tetraacetic acid); MF, medical and research facilities; FI, food irradiation facilities; NW, nuclear reactor waste sties; NPP, nuclear power plants.

  • * There are numerous radioiodines, including 132I. However, 131I is the most prevalent and clinically important radioisotope.