Iodine 131 is a proven treatment for thyroid cancer now being used on other cancers, but does the low-level radioactivity that patients emit after treatment pose a risk to their children at home?
The National Academy of Sciences has said that no amount of ionizing radiation is safe, despite the generally perceived safety of second-hand radiation from iodine 131, USA Today found. There's a low risk that such second-hand radiation would cause cancer in a child perhaps 1 or 2 in 1,000.
But that's a far higher risk than the Environmental Protection Agency allows when reducing exposure to toxic and radioactive chemicals at hazardous waste sites, where even the risk of 1 additional cancer in a million people is considered cause for worry.
There are safety guidelines that include such extraordinary steps as refraining from holding a child for more than 10 minutes a day during the first three weeks after treatment. The patient is, in effect, a source of radioactivity.
And beyond family members being exposed to a loved one returning home, what about hospital workers exposed by their patients?
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.