Increased radiation levels because of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant have raised concerns and discussion about the safe and acceptable levels of radiation. Because of this I have been thinking about the discrepancy between the handling of pet patients who have received radioiodide therapy and humans who have received radioiodine treatment for thyroid cancer or hyperthyroidism.
The usual protocol for pets being treating in this manner involves hospitalization and isolation for 4 or 5 days. After released the owners are typically instructed to take a variety of other precautions. Cuddling should be limited and sleeping with your pet is discouraged. Children under 18 and pregnant women should stay at least three feet away.Waste should be put in the toilet and not left in the yard, but it should be flushed three times. Does flushing radioactive feces down the toilet alarm anyone but me?
Guidelines for Humans
But more alarming to me is the lack of similar precautions for humans who have been treated with radioiodine. They seem a bit vague and inadequate to me. After treatment, patients are released and they can choose to go home, or anywhere else they chose. If patients chose not to go home and expose their families, they may chose to go to a hotel, apartment, or even dormitory. People may board buses, trains or planes. In fact, after receiving radioactive iodine treatment a patient took a bus through the Lincoln Tunnel and triggered radiation detectors in the tunnel.
Why the difference? This is a question I don’t even want to ponder.