Introduction

Radiological terrorism is a challenge that transcends national borders and one of the most disruptive asymmetric threats to security in the 21st century.  One of the most important concerns relies on the potential use by a terrorist group, either acting independently or acting as part of a bigger organization that could detonate a Radiological Dispersion Device (RDD) or dirty bomb. The main purpose of a dirty bomb is to cause social chaos as well as panic and traumatic and post-traumatic psychological-psychogenic effects in the population. The physiological and psychological damage caused by the explosion of an RDD would most likely be greater than the effects produced by the radioactive contamination.

Radiological dispersion devices (RDDs) or dirty bombs

Dirty bombs are easily made, with a combination of chemical explosives (such as gunpowder, dynamite, semtex, or C-4) and the kind of radioactive material (ampoule, vial or depot) that is commonly found in hospitals, industries, food sterilization facilities or biochemical research centers. Both the efficiency of the dirty bomb and its radioactive contamination level depend on the chemical explosive used and the radiological toxicity of the material. The greater the amount of chemical explosives, the more effective the scattering of the radioactive material will be.

Although no attacks with radioactive agents have occurred, the relative accessibility of some of these materials presents a continuing threat of radioactive terrorism and governments must develop strategic programs to detect and prevent it, and ultimately, to respond effectively. 

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