In 2017, a 69-year-old man with pancreatic cancer went to a hospital with unusually low blood pressure. Unfortunately, he died only two days later, and his remains were cremated.
What nobody in the hospital or the crematorium knew was that this was not just the man's last trip to the hospital. A day earlier, in fact, he was injected with a radioactive compound at another hospital to treat his tumor – and when his mortal remains were burned, this radioactive and potentially dangerous dose of Lutetium Lu 177 is still in his  This worrying case, reported in a new study letter this week, illustrates the risks that could potentially represent 18.6 million nuclear medicine procedures involving radiopharmaceuticals performed in the United States each year.
While the rules regulate how these medicines to patients, the picture may become less clear when these patients die due to different laws and standards in each country ̵
"Creating an exposed patient vaporizes radiopharmaceuticals, which can then be inhaled by workers (or released to the community) and lead to more exposure than a living patient."
In the case of this patient, after the doctors and the radiation safety department in the initial hospital understood about the death of the person, they contacted the crematorium.
Almost a month after the cremation happened, they used a Geiger counter to find the radiation levels in the cremation chamber and the equipment, including the oven, the vacuum cleaner, and the bone crusher. elevated radiation levels, while the spectroscopic personal radiation detector identifies the major radionuclide culprit – Lutethium Lu 177, the same radioactive compound used to treat man.
This was not like the second arrival of Chernobyl or Fukushima, but it was higher than you would expect, "said Co-author of the case and Radiation Safety Officer Kevin Nelson to the Vergata
Although there is no conclusive evidence, (19659002) This is the first time that the radioactive contamination of the crematorium has
This is the first time that radioactive contamination of the crematorium has
But this is not the most important part of the story
When the scientists analyzed the urine of the crematorium operator to see if the employee had also been contaminated by radiation, they could not find any traces of Lutetium Lu 177.
However, they found something : a different radioactive isotope called technetium 99m The worker said they had never been exposed to the compound as part of the nuclear medicine procedure
Therefore, the investigators say it is plausible that the operator was exposed to vaporized technetium Tc 99m while cremating Other human remains – if they are done, we can consider a wider issue here, in contrast to the isolated, single unhappy.
However, the amount of radiation we are talking about is very low, so even if the problem of accidental evaporation is widespread in the cremation industry, it may not be as dangerous as it sounds.
"I do not think this is a problem that can lead to the risk of cancer or other radiation – induced illnesses," said Racco Paolo Bofeta, researcher at Ikana Medical School in Mount Sinai. it is clear that this is a possible source of exposure and if someone is exposed regularly, every week or every few days, then it can become a source of concern. "
Considering that more than half of all Americans are finally cremating, the management of the people receiving the radio is an area in which the US health system has to work, researchers say.
This includes better ways of assessing radioactivity in deceased patients (before being cremated) and standardizing how to notify crematoriums to their clients.
After all, no one knows how often this happens. Nuclear scientist Marco Kaltofen of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, who was not involved in the study, told BuzzFeed News: "It just happened to capture this case because they usually do not look."
in JAMA .