Leak not radioactive, says AERB

Alarm bells were sounded at the Indira Gandhi International Airport recently when a leak from a medicinal consignment that was thought to be radioactive was reported in the cargo area of the airport.

  • However, after investigation, security personnel said that the reports of a radioactive leak were false.

What happened?

A package arrived from a foreign country carrying Iodine 131 which is used in radiotherapy for thyroid. Next to these containers was another container carrying N Venal Pyrodine, which is not radioactive, that had leaked.

Iodine 131:

  • Iodine-131 (131I), also called radioiodine, is an important radioisotope of iodine.
  • It has a radioactive decay half life of about 8 days.
  • Its uses are mostly medical and pharmaceutical. It also plays a role as a major radioactive hazard present in nuclear fission products.
  • It is a major uranium fission product, comprising nearly 3% of the total products of fission.
  • It is used in nuclear medicine therapeutically and can also be seen with diagnostic scanners if it has been used therapeutically.
  • Major uses of 131I include the treatment of thyrotoxicosis (hyperthyroidism) and some types of thyroid cancer that absorb iodine.
  • The 131I isotope is also used as a radioactive label for certain radiopharmaceuticals that can be used for therapy for imaging and treating pheochromocytoma and neuroblastoma.

The only naturally occurring isotope of iodine is stable iodine-127.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

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