Document Details

An Estimate of the Exposure from Specks of Insoluble Radioactive Material That May Become Lodged in the Lungs
Subject Terms:
alpha emitters, pile, speck; beta emitters, plutonium; exposure, estimate, ORNL; insoluble, radioactive; lungs, health physics
Document Location:
DOE INFORMATION CENTER 1 Way, Oak Ridge, TN 37831; Eva Butler; Phone: 865-241-4780; Toll-Free: 800-382-6938, Option 6; FAX: 865-574-3521; Email:
Document Categories:
Health, Safety and Environment\Public Health and Safety; Science and Technology\Chemistry; Specific Material\Plutonium
Document Type:
Publication Date:
1948 Aug 02
Declassification Date:
1955 Jul 19
Declassification Status:
Document Pages:
Accession Number:
Document Number(s):
CF 46-8-86
Originating Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
OpenNet Entry Date:
1998 Jun 16
This document concerns an estimate of the exposure from specks of insoluble radioactive material that may become lodged in the lungs. A plutonium analysis made on some of the specks indicated the alpha activity due to plutonium ranged from 75 to 90 percent of the total alpha activity in the several specks tested. Beta ray absorption measurements in aluminum gave different values for various specks analyzed. These measurements gave evidence of the presence of a considerable amount of Ru-106 - Rh-106. Data indicated that large particles were not retained in the lungs, but there is some evidence they might be held up long enough to cause considerable damage. A number of experiments were conducted to study the gross effects of uranium compounds, radioactive strontium, etc., in relation to the half lethal effects on animals or the resultant weight loss in order to determine permissible air concentrations, but so far as the present writer can determine, no study has been made to follow the effects of the individual particles in the lungs. Some points of interest noted were normally a emitters in the body are ten times worse than b, but in this case, the b rays of some of the specks continue to a much wider radius to kill many more cells; and it may be the cells affected by, but not killed by, the radiation that cause the greatest concern. It is not certain the intensity or extent of a local radiation exposure to the lungs that will produce either a chronic or an acute damage. Recommendations were: immediate steps should be taken leading to necessary changes in the X-10 pile that can be expected to remove or considerably minimize this hazard; biological studies should begin as soon as possible on animals exposed to fission activated UO-2 dust and studied over a period of years to observe the development of any lung damage; and the Health Physics studies of the speck problem should continue. Tables are included.

<< Return to Search Results