States would be unprepared for nuclear disasters resulting from natural or terrorist events, concluded researchers who surveyed health departments to assess their levels of readiness.
A survey of state health departments found substantial gaps in preparedness for a major radiation emergency, according to a report posted online by Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness. The entire issue, devoted to nuclear preparedness, is open access.
According to the study, of the 38 states that responded to the survey, including 26 or the 31 states with nuclear power plants, the majority of states had a written radiation response plan and most plans include a detailed section for communication issues.
But most states had completed little to no planning for public health surveillance. Only Four states reported having enough resources for any of the epidemiologic functions associated with a radiation incident.
Only three states reported having enough resources to conduct population-based exposure monitoring. They'd be unable to collect, process and ship samples for and conduct radioactivity analyses of biological/clinical or environmental samples.
Only four state health departments reported having sufficient resources to provide predictions on long-term health effects and medical consultations on radiation effects. Seven states reported sufficient resources for early detection of radiation contamination in first responders, and most reported insufficient resources for worker health/safety consultations, health alerts, potassium iodide plans, risk communication, and community relations.