First response considerations for children exposed to a radiological dispersal device
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Children are considered a vulnerable population during an accidental or deliberate release of radioactive material to the environment due to the fact that they have more active cell division compared with the adult population and therefore detrimental effects promulgate very quickly. Additionally, physical and social characteristics of children make them more prone to internalise a toxin (for example, children are closer to the ground where heavy aerosols can collect; children also have more relaxed sanitary habits compared with the adult population, which aids in hand-to-mouth transfer of contaminants). To confound matters, many emergency protocols are based upon a reference as opposed to a child. Although numerous radiological response exercises have been conducted in the years post 9/11, very few have utilised children actively in the scenarios. This paper considers observations made during a NATO exercise with scenarios covering radiological releases and which utilised a variety of children as exercise participants.
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