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1 December 2006

A Different World and Cobalt-60

Terrorist Dhiren Barot reminds us of the depravity of those we are up against and it is indeed a different world we live in. The IAEA statistics can be interpreted that authorities are more successful in sharing information, tracking incidents and stopping potential terrorists. What does this mean for our industry?

The fact is cobalt-60 is not attractive to terrorists. The design of industrial irradiation facilities, stringent control over the shipping of sources in massive containers, and the detailed safety and security plans irradiator owners have implemented ensure gamma irradiation continues to be safe and effective. In addition to the inherent safety of gamma technology, the industry has consistently regarded safety and security as a top priority throughout its 50-year history, and has fulfilled that priority with regulatory rigor.

Radiation technology provides a vital role in society with cobalt-60 used to sterilize more than 45% of all single-use medical device products used worldwide. As the global population ages we can expect the demand for healthcare services and the development of innovative human healthcare products requiring radiation sterilization to increase. The inherent ability of gamma radiation to effectively penetrate very dense materials, provides extreme flexibility in product design and packaging. This has resulted in the evolution of a wide range of essential medical devices that cannot easily be sterilized by other means.

iia members include the leading suppliers of both isotope and machine sources of radiation and many iia members employ the multiple modes of sterilization that are available today. We need all sterilization methods and technologies that transfer ionizing energy into the product to achieve the desired effect.