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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 33  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 222-223  

News and Information

Date of Web Publication1-Dec-2011

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How to cite this article:
. News and Information. Radiat Prot Environ 2010;33:222-3

How to cite this URL:
. News and Information. Radiat Prot Environ [serial online] 2010 [cited 2023 Jun 2];33:222-3. Available from: https://www.rpe.org.in/text.asp?2010/33/4/222/90480

  IAEA to Unclog Deliveries of Life-Saving Radioactive Materials Top

Use of radioisotopes in medical applications is increasing at a very rapid pace worldwide. A very important use of radioactive source is for the treatment of cancer. The cancer incidence rate is expected to reach nearly 17 million by 2020.

Radiotherapy units containing radioactive cobalt (Co-60) are used for the treatment of cancer. Most of the low- and middle-income countries need to import such units from developed countries. With an estimated shortfall of as many as 5000 radiotherapy units, close to 80% of cancer patients in these countries will be left without the radiotherapy treatment that is required in over 50% of cancer cases. Molybdenum-99, the parent isotope of Technetium-99, which is used to map blood flow to the heart or the spread of cancer to the bones in some 30 million medical imaging procedures a year, is a radioisotope with a short half-life of 66 hours. Molybdenum-99 transport depends heavily on air carriers, several of which refuse to carry radioactive substances.

Refusal to carry radioactive substances and severe restrictions on the transportation of the radioisotopes like Cobalt-60 and other medical sources (designated as UN Class 7 package) by many reputed airlines and shipping companies are causing serious problems in maintaining adequate radiotherapy services and providing the necessary diagnostic health care to the patients.

IAEA Director General urged all Member States to cooperate in finding workable solutions and ensure that thousands of medical patients are not denied life-saving treatment. The IAEA established an International Steering Committee on the Denial of Shipment of Radioactive Material, which includes industry and transport sector representatives, to address the problems caused by transport restrictions. The objective is to have safe, secure and sustainable transport networks for all shipments in terms of routes and also of carriers. The Agency has set 2013 as the target date for eliminating obstacles in shipping radioactive material.

Since late 2007, the IAEA Denial of Shipment Database recorded 87 incidents of refusal to transport Cobalt-60, used to treat cancer or sterilize medical equipment. Incidents involving Molybnenum-99 are also recorded. But many shipping denials, by air and sea, go unreported since many may not know the existence of IAEA Denial of Shipment Database.

It is suggested that the national regulatory systems should be designed to ensure transport can be carried out in a safe and secure manner rather than hindering the transportation of life-saving radioactive materials (Source: IAEA News).


Editor, Radiation Protection and Environment, C/o Radiation Safety Systems Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai, 400085, India.

Email: [email protected]

  Suppression of Experimental Evidence Against Linear Non-Threshold (LNT) Approach Top

(Based on the information that appeared in the newspaper, The HINDU, dated 22 September 2011)

American geneticist Hermann J. Muller was awarded the 1946 Nobel Prize in medicine for his discovery that X-rays induce genetic mutations. In his Nobel Prize Lecture of December 12, 1946, Muller argued that the dose-response for radiation-induced germ cell mutations was linear and that there was "no escape from the conclusion that there is no threshold." Muller, along with Curt Stern, another geneticist, had done many of the key experiments. The fruit fly germ cell mutations' experimental results at the University of Rochester in fact failed to support the linear dose-response model at low exposure levels. However, in the Muller's noble prize speech, he insisted there was no threshold. Stern raised no objection! The two successfully suppressed last-minute evidence against the linear non-threshold (LNT) from the fruit fly experiments.

According to the Edward J. Calabrese, a Professor of Toxicology at the University of Massachusetts, School of Public Health, Amherst uncovered the correspondence between Muller and Stern. He said that Muller's decision not to mention the key scientific evidence against his position has had a far-reaching impact on our approach to regulating radiation and chemical exposure. In fact, Calabrese's career research shows that low doses of some chemicals and radiation are benign or even helpful.

Within a year, th National Academy of Sciences (NAS) was forced to accept the linear model for gonadal mutations and the practice was extrapolated to somatic cells and cancer. Twenty years later, NAS adopted the linear approach for chemicals. Soon thereafter, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it would use the linear model for risk assessment. The International Commission of Radiological Protection also assumed the LNT as the basis for giving the recommendations for radiological protection.

Comment: This calls for more concerted efforts to invite/dedicate more research on this topic so that the issue could be resolved at some point of time in future to see its impact on radiological protection standards.


Editor, Radiation Protection and Environment, C/o Radiation Safety Systems Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai, 400085, India.

Email: [email protected]


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