Let’s learn more about the radiation disaster that took place in Goiânia, a city in central Brazil with approximately one million residents, in 1987.
Two individuals, while searching for scrap metal, found a radioactive source (cesium-137) in medical equipment located in an abandoned radiotherapy clinic. The protective shielding of the source was removed. The contaminated scrap metal was sold at a scrap yard, and the owner distributed radioactive fragments among relatives and friends.
For 16 days, the radiation source was moved to several locations around the city before it was recognized as radioactive. At first, the victims’ symptoms were thought to be related to some tropical disease. Radiation was later identified as the cause and four people died from excessive exposure. 249 people were found to have been contaminated with radioactive material.
In the weeks after the radiation source was identified, over 112,000 sought medical evaluations, representing about 11 percent of the city’s entire population. Of the individuals monitored for radioactive contamination, 74 percent had spontaneously sought monitoring due to fear of radiation. Many being screened had extreme anxiety.
Goiânia, a city in central Brazil with approximately one million residents in 1987.
Two individuals, while searching for scrap metal, found a radioactive source (cesium-137) in abandoned medical equipment:
- It was sold at a scrap yard
- For 16 days, the source was moved around the city before it was recognized as radioactive
- 4 people died from excessive exposure
- 249 were contaminated
- 112,000 sought medical evaluations (11% of the city's population)