During their stay on Eros, Miller and Holden are exposed to a lethal (if untreated) dose of gamma radiation. After their escape undergo extensive treatment on-board the Rocinante.
Depending on the level of exposure radiation may have no effects, cause cancer in the long run, temporary radiation sickness (as explained below) or death. Event when lethal radiation sickness takes time (24h to several weeks) to kill the patient.
- Radiation Poisoning (or Acute Radiation syndrome, ARS) is an illness caused by exposure of the body to ionizing radiation, that is, radiation that can break molecular bonds creating reactive radicals. Its immediate effects are characterized by nausea, bleeding, hair loss and diarrhea. Long term effects are damage to the bone marrow (where red and white blood cells are produced as well as platelets which are involved in healing) and central nervous system.
- Radiation poisoning may not be lethal. The patient may survive for months, years without further symptoms. Cancer is the most common long term effect. Infertility and damage to germ cells (eggs and sperm) are also common.
- If lethal the patient may enter a Walking Ghost phase, where he feels better and shows no apparent symptoms, followed by a sudden rapid decline, as in internal bleeding and certain death.
- Possible treatments for radiation poisoning :
- If external exposure to radioactive material: Remove all attire immediately, including shoes, followed by a Decon, or Decontamination shower. Gently washing with water and soap and clothing removal reduces 90 percent of external radiation particles from the skin. Decontamination prevents further distribution of radioactive materials and lowers the risk of internal contamination from inhalation, ingestion or open wounds.
- If internal (radioactive material ingested) or heavy gamma exposure (as int eh case of Holden and Miller):
- Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, a protein which promotes the growth of white blood cells, includes - filgrastim (Neupogen), sargramostim (Leukine) and pegfilgrastim (Neulasta), may increase white blood cell production and help prevent subsequent infections.
- Transfusion of red blood cells or blood platelets.
- Potassium iodide (Thyroshield, Iosat). This is a nonradioactive form of iodine. Iodine is used in the production of thyroid hormones, which in turn controls the body's metabolic processes. As such, the thyroid gland becomes a "destination" for iodine in the body. If you have internal contamination with radioactive iodine (radioiodine), your thyroid will absorb radioiodine just as it would other forms of iodine. Treatment with potassium iodide may fill "vacancies" in the thyroid and prevent absorption of radioiodine. The radioiodine is eventually cleared from the body in urine. Potassium iodide isn't a cure-all and is most effective if taken within a day of exposure.
- Prussian blue (Radiogardase), This type of dye binds to particles of radioactive elements known as cesium and thallium. The radioactive particles are then excreted in feces. This treatment speeds up the elimination of the radioactive particles and reduces the amount of radiation cells may absorb.
- Diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid (DTPA), This substance binds to metals. DTPA binds to particles of the radioactive elements plutonium, americium and curium. The radioactive particles pass out of the body in urine, thereby reducing the amount of radiation absorbed.
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