What do we know about the environmental impact of food irradiation operations?

(From The American Dietetic Association Position: Food irradiation)

Strict regulations govern the transportation and handling of radioactive material. Irradiation facilities are constructed to withstand earthquakes and other natural disasters without endangering the community or workers. Radioactive material is transported in canisters tested to withstand collisions, fires, and pressure. Worker safety is protected by a multifaceted protection system within the plant (11).

The 60Co used by US commercial facilities is specifically produced for use in irradiation of medical supplies and other materials. It is not a waste product of any other activity, and it cannot be used to make nuclear weapons. It is estimated that all the spent 60Co to date could fit in an office desk (8,9). Disposal of 60Co is carefully arranged by the producer.


Prepared Summer 1997 by Bernadene Magnuson, Ph.D.
University of Idaho, Dept. of Food Science and Toxicology - EXTOXNET FAQ Team.