An Israeli company has developed a "StemRad 360 Gamma" belt that could protect its wearer from the effects of gamma radiation in a nuclear emergency.
It might not ever be an accessory spotted at Tel Aviv nightclubs. But the belt could prove to be a lifesaver for first responders who strap it around their midsection in the event of an atomic accident, Reuters reports.
The belt appears fairly smooth on the outside, but is described as "three-dimensional" inside. It contains lead as only one feature of its key technology, according to Oren Milstein, the co-founder of the Stemrad company that created the protective item. He did not want to disclose additional details about what lies inside.
The idea behind it is to protect bone marrow, which is concentrated in the pelvis and can be key to surviving exposure to radiation. A full protective suit made from the StemRad 360 Gamma technology would have been too heavy to wear, its maker said.
"Conceptually, it's agreeable that the bone marrow is the most radiation sensitive tissue and that bone marrow is able to regenerate itself," Milstein said. "So kind of like adding one plus one, we know that if we perform partial shielding on bone marrow, we get an increased survivability of the individual."
The belt does leave the rest of the body exposed -- including the liver and thyroid -- so it cannot protect its wearer fully or allow long stays at irradiated sites. But Milstein says it can allow a wearer exposure up to a dose of 1,000 rads, which otherwise could lead to illness or death.
The company has taken orders from Israel, Japan and Russia, and is looking to promote the radiation belt more widely.
This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.