Radiation Blog

Radiation PPE: Current Status and its role in Ensuring Safety

06.21.23 | Wednesday | Liv Weiner

A nuclear catastrophe such as the nuclear power plant meltdown that occurred at Chernobyl in 1986, or the deployment of an Improvised Nuclear Device (IND) by terrorists, puts civilians at great risk of exposure to extremely dangerous ionizing gamma radiation. Such exposure to high levels of radiation poses significant threats to human health and can lead to the development of Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS), also known as radiation sickness. ARS is a severe and potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when individuals are exposed to high doses of ionizing radiation over a short period of time.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), a class of products that aims to protect individuals from injury and death, includes products that protect from radiation. The risk of radiation exposure requires proper PPE in order to protect the lives of first responders and civilians.

Current State of PPE Technology 

Despite significant advancements in radiation and personal protective equipment (PPE) technology, the standard options available for first responders are insufficient, leaving them vulnerable to debilitating diseases and even death. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that first responders adhere to the principle of ALARA (As Low as Reasonably Achievable), which discourages their entry into areas with high levels of ionizing radiation to provide support and rescue services.

According to OSHA, it is advisable for emergency response workers entering contaminated areas to obtain appropriate PPE, including respirators and other protective equipment and clothing. However, the standard PPE falls short of providing adequate protection against high levels of ionizing radiation, specifically gamma radiation. Unfortunately, first responders may find themselves in situations where exposure to such radiation is unavoidable while carrying out life-saving tasks.

StemRad’s 360 Gamma radiation shield emerges as a crucial solution. Designed to protect the wearer’s bone marrow, specifically the hematopoietic stem cell niche, StemRad’s 360 Gamma offers the necessary survivability against high levels of deadly ionizing radiation. It stands as the sole option available to effectively safeguard first responders in these challenging scenarios.

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360 Gamma Civilian Version Gamma Radiation Shield

Current Radiation Response Recommendations

When faced with the potential of high-dose radiation exposure, government agencies like the HHS and OSHA primarily offer recommendations to minimize the risk of exposure. However, these recommendations often fall short of providing adequate protection when exposure to gamma radiation is unavoidable. Furthermore, the HHS explicitly acknowledges that commonly available personal protective equipment (PPE) cannot effectively safeguard against the high energy and highly penetrating forms of ionizing radiation typically associated with radiation emergencies. In fact, they state that PPE offers no protection against such radiation.

While adopting an ALARA approach is prudent for minimizing exposure, it also prevents first responders from entering areas that have experienced high levels of ionizing radiation. This limitation hampers their ability to fulfill their critical role in containing further radiation release and saving the lives of those already exposed.

Policy Recommendations

The StemRad 360 Gamma radiation shield offers a compelling solution by employing its patented bone-marrow selective-shielding approach, effectively protecting individuals from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation. By significantly reducing the risk of deadly exposure, StemRad’s PPE plays a pivotal role in ensuring the safety of first responders.

Given the importance of safeguarding those on the front lines, it is imperative to introduce a mandate requiring the use of appropriate PPE, such as the StemRad 360 Gamma radiation shield. This proactive step will enable first responders to carry out their life-saving duties with enhanced protection, ultimately saving more lives in the process. Now is the opportune moment to prioritize the implementation of effective PPE measures and ensure the well-being of those who selflessly serve our communities. To date, the OECD/NEA, one of the leading nuclear authorities in the world, has taken action and recommended use of bone marrow selective shielding in severe accident management (Radiological Protection, NEA/CRPPH/R(2014)5). Many more are in the process of following.

360 Gamma Professional Version
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