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Dirty Bombs

Dirty Bomb Cleanup: Chemistry Researchers Provide Solutions

An article in the October 29th edition of Science News Online discussed methods for cleaning up radioactive contamination following a hypothetical "dirty bomb" attack on a city. Mark E. Smith (C-ADI) and Edel Minogue (C-SIC) from Los Alamos were interviewed for the article. "Dirty bombs" scatter radioactive particulates over a wide area. The particulates must first be stabilized in the affected zone and then extracted from the environment. Smith and Minogue are members of the large team which identified chelators  (organic molecules that bind with metals) that target those radioactive materials, employed modeling support, developed a peelable coating system, and demonstrated the performance of this system. The article quotes Smith as saying, "we want chelators that are specific for our radioactive metals for interest...but that don't bind to other materials, such as calcium, which is an ingredient of concrete or marble."  These chelators can be added to cleaning solutions and could potentially be used to scrub down an area following an attack.  Smith and Minogue's work is part of a joint effort between C, EES, MST, NMT and N Divisions.

The complete article goes into detail about some of the technical issues behind response, stabilization, and clean up.


posted 11/1/05




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