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, 4 (2), 260-72

Civilian Nuclear Incidents: An Overview of Historical, Medical, and Scientific Aspects


Civilian Nuclear Incidents: An Overview of Historical, Medical, and Scientific Aspects

Yuri Rojavin et al. J Emerg Trauma Shock.


Given the increasing number of operational nuclear reactors worldwide, combined with the continued use of radioactive materials in both healthcare and industry, the unlikely occurrence of a civilian nuclear incident poses a small but real danger. This article provides an overview of the most important historical, medical, and scientific aspects associated with the most notable nuclear incidents to date. We have discussed fundamental principles of radiation monitoring, triage considerations, and the short- and long-term management of radiation exposure victims. The provision and maintenance of adequate radiation safety among first responders and emergency personnel are emphasized. Finally, an outline is included of decontamination, therapeutic, and prophylactic considerations pertaining to exposure to various radioactive materials.

Keywords: Civilian nuclear incident; radiation monitoring; radiation syndromes; radioactive exposure.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of Interest: None declared.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Different types of ionizing radiation can be characterized by their depth of penetration. Alpha and beta particles have the lowest penetration, while neutrons and gamma rays are capable of penetrating materials up to and including lead. The machine-generated x-rays, physically identical to gamma rays and thus not included in our discussion, have been added for illustrative purposes. [Modified from Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Website. Available at:]

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