Health Phys 2012 Sep;103(3):255-67
Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, NH 03755, USA.
With possibilities for radiation terrorism and intensified concerns about nuclear accidents since the recent Fukushima Daiichi event, the potential exposure of large numbers of individuals to radiation that could lead to acute clinical effects has become a major concern. For the medical community to cope with such an event and avoid overwhelming the medical care system, it is essential to identify not only individuals who have received clinically significant exposures and need medical intervention but also those who do not need treatment. The ability of electron paramagnetic resonance to measure radiation-induced paramagnetic species, which persist in certain tissues (e.g., teeth, fingernails, toenails, bone, and hair), has led to this technique becoming a prominent method for screening significantly exposed individuals. Although the technical requirements needed to develop this method for effective application in a radiation event are daunting, remarkable progress has been made. In collaboration with General Electric and through funding committed by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, electron paramagnetic resonance tooth dosimetry of the upper incisors is being developed to become a Food and Drug Administration-approved and manufacturable device designed to carry out triage for a threshold dose of 2 Gy. Significant progress has also been made in the development of electron paramagnetic resonance nail dosimetry based on measurements of nails in situ under point-of-care conditions, and in the near future this may become a second field-ready technique. Based on recent progress in measurements of nail clippings, it is anticipated that this technique may be implementable at remotely located laboratories to provide additional information when the measurements of dose on-site need to be supplemented. The authors conclude that electron paramagnetic resonance dosimetry is likely to be a useful part of triage for a large-scale radiation incident.