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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Nuclear War Medication - DTPA for Radioactive Plutonium, Americium, and Curium

This article is a sub-post to Top Medication for a Nuclear War or Meltdown in this post I will discuss about the third medication for radiation fallout, DTPA to treat Radioactive Plutonium, Americium, and Curium. Like the previous post, I'll start by explaining what radioactive Plutonium, Americium, and Curium do to your body. All of those three radionuclides are very rarely used in the medical field as they are extremely dangerous. With the difference of Cesium-137 and Thallium-201, these three radionuclides can have half lives of up to millions of years. If a huge bomb was detonated and these radionuclides were released it would mean a no life zone (dead zone) for millions of years. I'll explain quickly where Plutonium, Americium, and Curium are commonly found, what is their common isotopes and what is the typical half life of the common isotopes. After that I'll discuss about what DTPA  is and who makes it. You will learn that DTPA comes in to forms and how much do you have to take to get rid of Plutonium, Americium, and Curium that you may have inhaled or ingested as a result of either the detonation of a dirty bomb made from Nuclear Waste, the result of a Nuclear Reactor accident, or a Nuclear Bomb.


Plutonium-238 and Plutonium-239:
Plutonium has 20 different isotopes that range from 228-247. Plutonium-238 and Plutonium-239 are the most common isotopes of Plutonium. The main use of Plutonium-238 is as a thermal-electric generator which require low maintenance. An example of this in in spacecraft which can't go back to earth to fuel up. It has a very long half life of 87.7 years, which if I use the ten halves formula means it would take 877 years for Plutonium-238 to be deemed perfectly safe. Plutonium-238 is also found in spent Nuclear Fuel which is why it could show up in a dirty bomb. Plutonium-239 is far more common than it's counterpart primarily due to it's ability to make nuclear chain reaction, hence it use in nuclear weapons. It is to expected that if Plutonium-239 was found, it is probably because you are near a Nuclear Test Site (Trinity, Enewetak or  Novaya Zemlya) or a Nuclear Bomb detonation site (Hiroshima or Nagasaki). It would be possible to find it in dirty bombs using waste nuclear fuel. If an all out nuclear war was to happen, Plutonium-239 would be a major concern. What make Plutonium-239 good for maximum explosive damage in nuclear weapons also makes it deadly in fallout. Plutonium-239 has a half life of 24,200 years meaning it would take 242,000 years for it to be considered perfectly safe. The result would be considered a permanent dead zone for the area which contained most of the fallout, and this for 242,000 years! As for it's biological half life, it takes 200 years for your body to naturally eliminate half of the Plutonium it contains. As for it's effects on the body it is deadly even in small quantities and it is accumulated mainly in the bone marrow, liver and lungs. Plutonium is very hard to absorbed when injected, giving us a biological advantage as only 0.04% of the Plutonium you ingest will be absorbed. Breathing fallout particles though, is extremely dangerous and most of the Plutonium will accumulate in your lungs. If the Plutonium does not kill you, it will cause cancer in the areas where it is absorbed.

Americium-241 and Americium-243:
Americium has 19 different isotopes that range from 231-249. Americium-241 and Americium-242 are the most common isotopes of Americium. The main use of Americium-241 is in household smoke detectors in which a tiny quantity it used in the process to detect smoke. Now don't jump and rip off your smoke detector, it does not emit any radiation on itself that will harm you. The problem with Americium-241 is that it is not controlled when in smoke detectors and if you could gather a large number of smoke detectors, you could gather a significant supply of Americium-241 which then would be dangerous. Americium-241 has a half life of 432.7 years making it a good 4,327 years to deteriorate to a safe level. For the body it has a biological half life of 50 years in the bones and 20 years in the liver. Americium-243 is less common that its counterpart but is found in Nuclear Waste from Nuclear Plants, Nuclear test sites, and Nuclear accident sites (like the recent Fukushima Daiichi incident). Even if it is not commonly found, Americium-243 is still very dangerous because its half life of 7,370 years makes it dangerous much longer than Americium-241. We have the same biological advantage with Americium that we have with Plutonium as only 0.05% of the amount ingested is absorbed by our body.

Curium-242 and Curium-244:
Curium has 21 different isotopes that range from 232-252. Curium-242 and Curium-244 are the most common isotopes of Curium. As you may have wondered with the picture (left), Curium has been named after Marie Skłodowska-Curie and Pierre Curie who have been very important people in the field of Radioactivity. Curium-242 has no current mass use, it has been proposed for various purposed mainly as generators in space probes. Curium-242 has a half life of 160 days (4.3 years to be safe). Curium-244 like its counterpart, has no common use, but proposed usage also include spacecraft Nuclear Generators. Curium-244 has a much longer half life of 18.1 years (181 years to be safe). Both Curium-242 and Curium-244 are by-products found in Nuclear Waste and Nuclear Explosions, and has also been found near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant in 2011. In the body Curium concentrate equally in the bone marrow and liver. Its biological half life is of 50 years in the bones marrow and 20 years in the liver. We have the same biological advantage with Curium that we have with Plutonium and Americium as only 0.05% of the amount ingested is absorbed by our body. If inhaled it concentrates in the lungs where it is a lot more dangerous.


Now that we've covered the three radionuclides DTPA can help eliminate, lets look at the medication. DTPA is in the family of chelating agents. That is DTPA sticks to Plutonium, Americium and Cesium and shortens their biological half life. DTPA once stuck to the radionuclides, is naturally eliminated through urine. It is important to take DTPA correctly as it is not intelligent, it will stick to other minerals like Zinc, Magnesium, and Manganese. This means that it is eliminating the good minerals in your body just as the Radionuclides. When taking DTPA it is recommended to take mineral supplements, mainly Zinc. There are two types of DTPA and it is important to take the right one.

Pentetate Calcium Trisodium (Ca-DTPA) by Hameln Pharmaceuticals:
Pentetate Calcium Trisodium also known as Ca-DTPA is the only FDA approved medication along with Pentetate Zinc Trisodium (Zn-DTPA) for use as a chelating agents for contamination of Plutonium, Americium and Cesium. Ca-DTPA is the strongest of the two DTPA solutions and is very effective at accelerating the biological decay of Plutonium, Americium and Cesium. Ca-DTPA is said to be 10 times more effective than Zn-DTPA when given in the first 24 hours after contamination. Ca-DTPA is supplied in single-dose glass ampoules each containing 1000mg of Pentetate Calcium Trisodium dissolved in 5ml liquid form. It can be given either by inhalation in a special device or by intravenous injection (IV). The typical treatment with Ca-DTPA is to use only one 1000mg ampoule treatment then switch to Zn-DTPA. When used by IV, use a slow IV push for 3-4 minutes. This means that the 5ml dose should be slowly push in your blood stream over a period of 3-4 minutes, it shouldn't be injected all at once. Ca-DTPA is too strong to be administered more than once and can get you very sick. Ca-DTPA is not available over the counter and thus is a prescription only medication. Furthermore, most if not all treatment are given at a hospital by qualified personnel and thus you will probably never find it in a pharmacy.
Price per 1000mg dose (1 ampoule) is 22.50$US

Pentetate Zinc Trisodium (Zn-DTPA) by Hameln Pharmaceuticals:
Pentetate Zinc Trisodium also known as Zn-DTPA is the only FDA approved medication along with Pentetate Zinc Trisodium (Zn-DTPA) for use as a chelating agents for contamination of Plutonium, Americium and Cesium. Zn-DTPA is 10 times weaker than Ca-DTPA when used within 24 hours of contamination. After 24 hours both Ca-DTPA and Zn-DTPA are equally good, but Ca-DTPA still remains very dangerous. This is why after 24 hours Zn-DTPA is the preferred treatment. It is administered exactly the same way as Ca-DTPA, by slow IV for 3-4 minutes. Even if it is less dangerous than Ca-DTPA, Zn-DTPA should be taken with at least some Zinc supplements. For both types of DTPA it is important to drink a lot of water and to go urinate the most often as possible, especially in the beginning as all the radionuclides are all concentrated in your bladder. The quicker you urinate them out,  the less damage will have been caused to your body.
Price per 1000mg dose (1 ampoule) is 22.50$US



Here is a chart of the dosage for Pentetate Calcium Trisodium (Ca-DTPA) and Pentetate Zinc Trisodium (Zn-DTPA):
Adults and Adolescents                            1000mg (One 5ml ampoule) Every 24 hours
Children (under 12 years old)                     14 mg/kg (Max 1000mg) Every 24 hours


Visit the FDA website for other details on the dosage


This concludes the post on the second type of radionuclides which there is medication for. If you have any questions or comments feel free to discuss it in the comments section and I'll be more than happy to answer. Lastly, don't count on government reserves of neither Ca-DTPA or Zn-DTPA or any other medication for that fact, as when a nuclear war will break out o simply another nuclear accident, it will be a free-for-all for medication and in a couple days time there will be none left. Both these medication are only very rarely used in hospitals and I wouldn't be surprised if some hospitals don't even have some.


Sources:

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