Oops: radioactive corpse cremated

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/02/27/oops-radioactive-corpse-crema.html

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Radiopharmaceuticals… when you’re not allowed to hug your SO for two days, just to be on the safe side, on top of all the other crap that comes with cancer.
Still, it’s good to have them. A powerful tool in the right hands, indispensable for certain treatments or diagnostics.

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Glanced at the headline, then thought, “maybe I should look to make sure it wasn’t somewhere in AZ.”

Dammit.

Weird, that article doesn’t seem to say where it was. Ars does:

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And thus a deeply awkward awareness-raising partnership between NIOSH and hotornot.com was formed…

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postmortem safety challenge

Where do I sign up?

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Hmm, looks like the isotope in question is 177Lu which is a beta emitter with a half life of 6.6 days. (Some googling says that it’s used because it’s a beta emitter and this is the only radioisotope of that weigth which is solely a beta emitter 177m3Lu also emits beta, but can emit other things as well, so it unlikely the radionisotope used)

That doesn’t strike me as all that exciting of a risk. Beta partles can be blocked with a few mm of metal. The normal enclosure for a crematorium should be enough to block that. So, you’re only exposed when it’s open. I guess some of the material could get out and stick to things as it’s probably going to ash like. Oh, yeah, they do handle the charred remains. That’s not going to be a good idea for a few months…

Probably want to be a bit more careful about this next time.

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Do you want “Return of the Living Dead”? This is how you get “Return of the Living Dead”.

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It’s a potential threat to whoever works in the crematorium and anybody who’s near when the ashes are scattered (depending on when, of course). Mourners may inhale dust from the ashes; beta emitters are most dangerous when inhaled or ingested.

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Given radiation treatment days before they expired/died…

Considering the procedure radiated their body, was the treatment really necessary at that stage or a money grab and experimental ?

Once deceased no regulations over see cancer patient burial? Talk about cracks in the system.

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The Ars Technica article Ratel posted has more details. The doctors who treated him weren’t told he died until well after the cremation and Arizona doesn’t have any regulations.

It could have been a money grab, but we don’t know that. The dead patient was 69 and appears to have had multiple health issues, which isn’t uncommon.

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Shorter lived isotopes than this guy from the SL-1 accident

HEADQUARTERS
MILITARY DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON
WASHINGTON 28, D.C.
In Reply Refer To
AMHRC 31 January 1961

SUBJECT: Internment of Radioactive Remains

TO: Superintendent
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington 11, Virginia

  1. Radioactive remains of SP4 Richard L. McKinley were interred at Arlington National Cemetery on 25 January 1961.

  2. It is desired that the following remark be placed onthe permanent record, DA Form 2122, Record ofInternment:

“Victim of nuclear accident. Body is contaminated with long-life radio-active isotopes. Under no circumstances will the body be moved from this location without prior approval of the Atomic Energy Commission in consultation with this headquarters.”

FOR THE COMMANDER:

Leon S. Monroe, II
2d Lt. AGC
Assistant Adjutant General

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“Thoughts and prayers” - the GOP.

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Anyone up for roast boar?!

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Yeeeee-up, thassssssss right!
We in the Amerrrrrkn West don’t need no stinkin’ regulations from some dang nanny-state gummint!
We’re free!

Yeehaw.
Uh…

Oh hey I’m in Central Texas. Ruh roh!

Here’s some guidelines put out by the U.S Center for Disease Control… for all y’all living in the sensible, science-based, fact-based, definitely-got-your-act-together places:


Guidelines for Handling Decedents Contaminated with Radioactive Materials

Detonation of a nuclear weapon or activation of a radiological dispersal device could cause radioactively contaminated decedents. These guidelines are designed to address both of these scenarios. They could also be applicable in other instances where decedents’ bodies are contaminated with radioactive material (e.g. reactor accidents, transportation accidents involving radioactive material, or the discharge of a decedent from a hospital after injection or implantation of a radiopharmaceutical). These guidelines suggest ways for medical examiners, coroners, and morticians to deal with loose surface contamination, internal contamination, or shrapnel on or in decedents’ bodies.

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It’s The Sun. I doubt there were any radioactive boar just based on the source.

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Well by all means, let the panic begin!

Far more worried about cesium being “harvested” from junked medical equipment for terroristic uses, honestly.

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a mistake that released potentially dangerous Lutetium 177 into the environment.

Elements. Aren’t. Capitalized.

You don’t breathe Oxygen, those thieves aren’t stripping your walls for Copper, and there ain’t no Lutetium to panic about.

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