A radiological dispersal device (RDD), or “dirty bomb,” uses a conventional explosive to spread radioactive contamination. A dirty bomb is not a nuclear bomb; it would not result in the hundreds of thousands of fatalities that could be caused by the explosion of a nuclear weapon. The total amount of radioactivity would be much smaller than from a nuclear bomb. If you are not near the explosion, the greatest danger from a dirty bomb comes from inhaling radioactive dust.
There are other ways to disperse radioactive material that do not use explosives so it might not be immediately clear that a radiological attack has occurred.
How to identify a Radiological Attack
You may see or hear an explosion
- Radiation is invisible; you will not know whether radioactive material is present until measurements are taken and you a warned by the authorities
How to Prepare for a Radiological Attack
- See Emergency Response Plan for general information
How to Respond to A Radiological Attack
Cover your nose and mouth to prevent inhalation of radioactive materials
- If you are outside at the time of explosion, seek indoor shelter in an undamaged building. If you are inside, remain in the building if it is undamaged.
- Turn off ventilation systems, close all doors and windows
- Once you are away from outdoor dust, remove your outer layer of clothing to reduce exposure to radioactive dust. Place the clothing in plastic bags.
- Wash or rinse exposed skin and hair
- Once the dust has settled, it is safer to move away from the area