Nuclear Accident? Fasten Up Your ‘Radiation Belt’

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
April 8, 2014, 9:10 a.m.

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.

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