This is a breaking alert of considerable note; the information and analysis is subject to change. We make note of this alert because it has a LARGE upside risk of potentially injured people and because of the strange way the NRC seems to be under-reporting the event.
A person was stopped at the US border because of high radioactivity readings. That person had undergone a medical cardiac PET scan using Rubidium -82. The person had significant levels of Strontium 82 and 85 detected. The individual underwent further testing at Oak Ridge National Labs and "whole body counting indicated an expected dose of 4.9 rem"
In a very strange situation the NRC has apparently used this person's dosage as the reference point above which they will claim a "medical event" has occurred. This methodology seems to be designed to under report the risk. In essence the NRC is defining a "medical event" as the ability of the Border Patrol to detect high levels of radiation from a person crossing the border.
For all legitimate intents and purposes it seems as if the NRC has picked a reporting threshold that is not defensible by its own standards. Per the NRC's event report "the definition of a medical event is '[a] dose that differs from the prescribed dose or dose that would have resulted from the prescribed dosage by more than 0.05 Sv (5 rem)' and that 'differs from the prescribed dose by 20 percent or more.' " Note: that it does NOT say -"which ever is greater", which seems to be the standard the NRC is using.
One would think that the real medical event would be a person being injected with a Rubidium-82 source that was contaminated with Strontium-82 / Strontium-85 and as a result getting a bone seeking dose of radiation that is lasting for many months instead of the mere minutes it was supposed to have lasted.
In that regard the FDA has recalled (voluntary) the CardioGen-82 product apparently responsible for this incident. But we question why the NRC has chosen benchmark for reporting that seems to be designed to under-report the issue. Moreover, one has to question if the risk goes beyond the CardioGen-82 product, and applies to any Rubidium-82 generator. One thing is for sure, the POTRBLOG team will not be undergoing any PET scans using Rb-82 and if we knew anyone who had undergone such diagnostic testing would would alert them to the issue.
Given that Rb-82 has replaced Technetium-99m in PET scans because of a shortage of Tc-99m, there are potentially a large number of people who may be affected by this issue, probably MANY more than the NRC would like to have show up in its event reports; likely, to the extent that one should expect to start seeing advertisements from lawyers looking for people who had PET scans with Rb-82 and now have or are likely to get bone cancer.
Expect this story to potentially explode as these patients come to understand their risk of bone cancer. On the other hand, we suspect that only a small percentage of the actual risk pool was ever notified. If the safety of the public were truly the foremost issue, anyone who had undergone a Rb-82 PET scan would have been notified of the issue much sooner than now.
See the NRC event report here: Event Report #47503
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