India Creates Medical Caesium-137 from Nuclear Waste

India’s scientists at the Bhabha Atomic Research Center in Trombay, near Mumbai in the western state of Maharashtra, recover caesium-137 from radioactive waste to protect babies and vulnerable patients from adverse reactions to blood transfusions.

A rare and usually fatal complication from blood transfusion is Transfusion-Associated Graft Versus Host Disease, which is a major risk for fetuses and very premature newborns, as well as patients with suppressed immune systems, says World Nuclear News.

Doctors normally irradiate donated blood either with x-rays or gamma rays sourced from cobalt-60. However, cobalt-60 has a short half-life of 5.3 years which means technicians have to regularly make, transport and install new sources. Though Caesium-137 offers a longer-lasting alternative with a half-life of 30.2 years, it is usually presented in powdered form as caesium-chloride that has the potential hazard of dispersal if not properly handled and managed.

Making Vitrified Caesium Pencils at BARC

Making Vitrified Caesium-137 Pencils at BARC

Researchers at the Bhabha Atomic Research Center created a solid form of caesium-137 (from the stream of reprocessed spent fuel from India’s nuclear power plants), with the benefits of long life, reduced handling and no risk of dispersal. The same product will replace cobalt-60 for applications such as food irradiation, brachytherapy and sterilization of medical equipment.

 

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Posted on by Gunjan Bagla
Gunjan Bagla
California-based management consultant Gunjan Bagla runs Amritt, a consulting firm helping American companies to succeed in India. Amritt is the trusted advisor for India market research, India business development, India market entry, Global Engineering, Global Technology Scouting, India R&D and Open Innovation. Gunjan is author of "Business in 21st Century India: How to Profit Today from Tomorrow’s Most Exciting Market" (Hachette Book Group, 2008), Amazon's top rated title on the subject. He has appeared as the India Expert on BBC Television, Bloomberg TV, Fox Cable Business and has been quoted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Hollywood Reporter and Business Week for his expertise on India.

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