Database of radiological incidents and related events--Johnston's Archive

Mexico City orphaned source, 1962

compiled by Wm. Robert Johnston
last modified 26 October 2008

Date: 21 March-August 1962

Location: Mexico City, Mexico

Type of event: lost radiography source


In March 1962 a 10-year-old boy discovered a 5-Ci cobalt-60 industrial radiography source, not in its shielded container. The boy carried the source in a pocket for several days, then it was placed in a kitchen cabinet in his home. Four family members died of resulting radiation sickness: the boy died 29 April (day 38), his mother on 19 July, his 2-year-old sister on 18 August, and his grandmother on 15 October. Radiation exposure was not identified as the cause of the deaths until July-August. The father survived with lesser symptoms. Estimated doses for the four who died were 4,700-5,200 rad, 3,500 rad, 3,000 rad, and 2,870 rad; dose to the father was about 990-1,200 rad.

Consequences: 4 fatalities, 1 injury.


© 2004-2007, 2008 by Wm. Robert Johnston.
Last modified 26 October 2008.
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