Date: 26 May 1986
Location: Kaifeng, Henan, P.R. China
Type of event: accidental exposure to source
Two individuals (one male, one female) were accidentally exposed to a 6,900-curie cobalt-60 source for about 3 minutes. Following a loss of power, a worker left the source in the irradiation position in the chamber. Shortly after, two workers entered the room and placed samples for irradiation, leaving when one felt his eyes were becoming dry. The male worker received a whole body dose of 350 rads with 1240 rads to the lens of the eyes. The female worker received a whole body dose of 260 rads with 930 rads to the lens of the eyes. Both developed acute radiation sickness.
The male worker suffered vision loss, skin injuries, and required skin grafting and amputation of fingers or limbs five times in the 35 days to 5 years post-exposure. He died of liver cancer 21 years after exposure. The female worker suffered skin injuries and other issues. She developed leukemia and died 32 years after exposure. Both deaths are assessed as likely linked to the radiation exposure.
Consequences: 2 deaths.
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Last modified 10 July 2022.
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