Missing radioactive: stolen radioactive iodine, May 25 2019
On May 25 2019, Uruguay’s Ministry of the Interior issued a nationwide alert concerning a stolen lead container holding 100 millilitres of iodine-131. The stolen radioactive iodine-131 is in a liquid suspension used for the treatment of certain thyroid conditions: for example aggressive hyperthyroidism.
I-131 is highly dangerous if swallowed, it is absorbed into the bloodstream and concentrated by the thyroid gland, where it will destroy the gland’s cells. This is the reason why during a nuclear incident people are given iodine tablets. These tablets flood the body with iodine essentially making it so that the body has no need for any more, which means any radioactive iodine encountered is excreted from the body.
You can read more about its use in medicine on this Wikipedia page.
It does have a short half-life, in four months it will be completely harmless.
It is another example of why widespread radioactive monitoring is becoming a necessity, given the type of material it is unlikely that it was stolen to try to inflict harm but it is still a substance that you would want to track down quickly.
The original article can be found here: https://en.mercopress.com/2019/05/27/hazardous-radioactive-material-stolen-in-uruguay