An Arizona Crematorium Tested Hot For Radioactive Contamination. The Source? A Dead Body.

An Arizona crematorium tested hot for radioactive contamination, as well as the likely source is usually a cremated man who was treated for cancer shortly before dying, a brand new study found.

The medical community has long been aware of potential safety risks associated with cremating cancer patients treated with “radiopharmaceuticals,” according to Nathan Yu, the study’s lead author as well as a resident physician from the Department of Radiation Oncology at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. however contamination of a facility has not been reported until at This particular point.

The injection of radioactive compounds is usually increasingly used to diagnose as well as treat cancer because This particular can be used to to deliver radiation to specifically targeted tumor cells. Given their alarming findings at the Arizona crematorium, Yu as well as his colleagues are calling for a more systematic approach to handling This particular safety challenge. There are no federal rules about exposed dead bodies, resulting in a patchwork of state regulation, according to their letter published Tuesday from the Journal of the American Medical Association. as well as Arizona currently doesn’t have any such rules.

The results weren’t surprising to Marco Kaltofen, a nuclear scientist at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts who was not involved from the study. “They only happened to catch This particular one case because normally they don’t look,” he said.

A 69-year-old man was treated last year at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona for cancer through a common outpatient procedure involving the injection of radioactive compounds into the veins. Not feeling well, he checked into a different hospital the next day as well as soon died. The place where his body was cremated didn’t know about the recent cancer treatment.

When the Mayo Clinic staff discovered their patient’s sudden death, they took steps, including reaching out to the state’s Bureau of Radiation Control, in which resulted in a survey of the crematorium. About a month after the man was treated with lutetium Lu 177 dotatate, the very same isotope was detected in low levels on the equipment used to cremate the body, including the oven, vacuum filter, as well as bone crusher.

The discovery of radioactive contamination coming from lutetium “is usually something we were looking for,” Yu said. “however there was an unexpected finding of another radioisotope” — specifically, technetium Tc 99m from the urine of the crematory operator — suggesting radioactive contamination at crematoriums is usually a more widespread problem.

Technetium is usually also commonly used from the treatment of cancer. Since the operator had not been exposed to This particular in a medical treatment, the researchers suspect the exposure came coming from handling as well as cremating a different body.

“Safety regulations are well established for radiopharmaceuticals in living patients. however they present a unique post-mortem safety challenge,” Yu said. in which’s because cremating an exposed patient may Discharge hot particles into air in which could be inhaled by crematory workers.

Both cases of radioactive contamination — on the crematory equipment as well as from the operator’s urine — were far below the limit defined as unsafe by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“I believe the situation described from the article is usually possible, however also in which the likely exposures are very low,” Chris Whipple, who previously chaired the National Academy of Sciences board on radioactive waste management, told BuzzFeed News. He said one of his friends was once treated for prostate cancer using a procedure where radioactive seeds were implanted inside his body, as well as the friend had to sign a document agreeing in which he would certainly not be cremated if he died from the following months.