If an accident occurred at a nuclear power plant, employess would likely be wearing dosimeters that would tell physicians an individual’s radiation dose estimate. But if a nuclear attack or disaster affected the general population, obtaining the radiation dose calculations would become more difficult.
ORAU’s primary mission with its cytogenetic biodosimetry laboratory is to provide a critical resource to our nation in the event of mass casualties involving radiological or nuclear materials.
Reestablished in 2007, the cytogenetic biodosimetry laboratory, one of three labs of its kind in the United States, supports the medical community in the evaluation, triage and management of patients with acute radiation injuries. The lab is operated as part of the Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site (REAC/TS), and is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration and Office of Worker Safety and Health, as well as the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Cytogenetic biodosimetry is a proven process for calculating the dose to individuals exposed to high levels of radiation. This exposure information is crucial to effectively treating patients and managing medical resources during an emergency.
However, this process can also offer insight into occupational and environmental radiation exposure. With a simple blood test, ORAU researchers can help determine the potential for biological effects induced by radiation. Researchers can then calculate a radiation dose to be used by the medical community in evaluating and treating victims.
ORAU continues to work on development and implementation of an international collaborative group for Web-based analysis of chromosome aberrations needed to guide medical management of radiation accidents. The lab also supports the emergency management community by particpating in national terrorism preparedness exercises.