Cesium-137 irradiators once were considered the most effective technology for sterilizing blood. As a result, they can be found in blood and research irradiators in hundreds of hospitals, blood banks and research centers across the U.S. Unfortunately, commercially available cesium-137 also is a highly radioactive and highly dispersible isotope, and many of the irradiators that contain it are poorly secured and vulnerable to theft.
Terrorist groups have said they want to acquire and use radioactive material in a dirty bomb – and the consequences could be devastating: billions of dollars in damage due to the costs of evacuation, relocation, and cleanup, as well as severe economic and psychological repercussions. Access to a contaminated area could be denied for years due to lengthy clean-up operations.
This must change. And there is good news: Today, there are safe, effective, affordable, and federally approved alternatives.
Cesium-137 irradiators can be replaced with non-radioactive irradiators that use X-ray technology. This eliminates risks and reduces liability for hospitals and research centers.