Friday, January 29, 2016

Acute Radiation Syndrome

Table 8 – Acute Radiation Syndrome
Subclinical Range
0 – 100 rads
Therapeutic Range
100 – 500 rads
Lethal Range
500+ rads

100 – 200
200 – 300
300 – 500
500 – 2000
2000+
Appropriate Action
None
Clinical surveillance
Therapy effective
Therapy promising
Therapy palliative (comfort patient only)
Incidence of Vomiting
None
100 rads: 5%
200 rads: 50%
75%
75%
100%
100%
Delay Time
n/a
3 hours
2 hours
1 hour
3 min.
3 min.
Main Organs Affected
None
Blood Forming Tissue
Gastro-intestinal Tract
Central Nervous System
Characteristic Signs
None
White Blood Cell Decrease
Fatigue, infection, erythema, sterilization, loss of hair above 300 rads, hemorrhage
Diarrhea, fever, electrolyte imbalance, bleeding
Convulsion, coma, loss of muscle control, lethargy, tremors
Critical Period
n/a
n/a
4 – 6 weeks
5 – 14 days
1 – 48 hours
Post-exposure Therapy
Assure of Safety
Blood analysis; assure of safety
Blood transfusion; anti-biotics
Possible bone marrow transplant
Maintain electrolyte balance
Sedatives
Outlook
Excellent
Excellent
Good
Guarded
Hopeless
Hopeless
Convalescent Period
None
Several weeks
1 – 2 months
Long
n/a
n/a
Death Rate
None
None
0% - 40%
40% - 100%
90% - 100%
100%
Death Within
n/a
n/a
2 – 4 weeks
2 weeks
2 days
Cause of Death
n/a
n/a
Hemorrhage, infection
Dehydration
Respiratory failure; heart attack

Table 8 Source: "Terrorism With Ionizing Radiation General Guidance: Pocket Guide," produced by the Employee Education System for the Office of Public Health and Environmental Hazards, Department of Veterans Affairs.

Some may think that certain data are emphasized in this and other chapters in an attempt to minimize the dangers of exposure to radiation. This is not at all true. I am trying to put the dangers in perspective and eliminate the Pavlovian negative response to even the very mention of the subject. Table 8 shows the accepted syndrome from short-term exposures. Please note that this table is in rems (not millirems) and can be mentally converted to centisieverts (cSvs) of the same numerical value. Radiation can obviously be very dangerous. But so can an unreasonable fear of radiation.