Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Radiation Belt

PostedJanuary 25, 2015

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Anchor Lead: In a nuclear accident or attack, first responders can be exposed to high levels of radioactive material. Heavy shielding has been impractical, but a new device could save their lives.

Randy Atkins: The biggest immediate threat to people from high levels of dangerous gamma radiation is destruction of the body’s blood cell-producing bone marrow. But Daniel Levitt, CEO of StemRad, says even massive exposure is survivable if just your pelvis area is protected.

Daniel Levitt: That is actually the core of bone marrow production…and luckily that location is also the body’s center of gravity.

Randy Atkins: So Levitt’s company has engineered a harness that wraps the pelvis with materials like lead that block radiation, but still allows mobility needed in a rescue operation.

Daniel Levitt: It’s comprised of about twenty layers to allow for it to bend around the body and of course the outer core protected by various fire retardant materials.

Randy Atkins: Levitt says it should give first responders enough time to go into areas of high radiation, do their job, and come out alive. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.