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Belt Touted As Radiation Sickness Protection

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An Israeli company called StemRad has developed a belt that, according to the company’s website, can “protect first-responders and affected populations from the deadly effects of exposure to high doses of gamma radiation.”

The StemRad 360 Gamma is designed primarily for official personnel responding to a nuclear accident or attack. A promotional video on the website says the device increases the chance of surviving acute radiation syndrome (ARS), also known as radiation sickness, caused by gamma ray exposure:

Since most deaths are caused by bone marrow failure, the StemRad 360 Gamma has been specifically designed to protect the body’s bone marrow stem cells, found mostly in the pelvic region.

After the radiation exposure, the video says, “The stem cells are then able to exit the shielded area and replenish the whole body, allowing the individual to recover from radiation exposure.”

The video features a man identified as Brian Lowe, a firefighter/engineer in the Los Angeles area, who says he has been testing the device. “It allows complete freedom of movement,” he says. “But most importantly is, it gives us first responders the peace of mind knowing that we’re finally protected against heavy radiation, and that’s awesome.”

Well, not entirely protected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website says bone marrow syndrome is only one of “the three classic ARS Syndromes.” The others, which result from heavier radiation doses than those that cause bone marrow syndrome, are gastrointestinal syndrome and cardiovascular/central nervous system syndrome. Both are almost inevitably fatal, and the StemRad 360 Gamma would not shield against either.

The device is a wide belt supported by suspenders. According to the Algemeiner newspaper, Israel’s Channel 2 television quoted StemRad board member Ronen Melnik as saying the device weighs “a mere 15 kilograms.” That’s 33 pounds, which doesn’t seem all that “mere.” Neither does the reported price: $7,000.

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Related CME seminar (up to 8.5 AMA PRA Category 1 credits™): ALARA – CT (As Low As Reasonably Achievable)

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