RAI Clean Up Question

Tomorrow is my 4th day in isolation post RAI. I am going out to have my WBS in the morning, then want to come home to clean up my bedroom, launder sheets, clothes and towels, clean the bathroom, etc. Although I plan to continue isolation for 3-4 more days because I have a 15 month old in the house. I am wondering, and am probably anxious/paranoid, etc., about the nature of any contamination in the room such as things I have touched, which are going straight to the trash. I plan to throw everything away and clean all surfaces, but now I am wondering about my carpet that I have walked on and carrying laundry through the house in my arms. Am I then recontaminating my own self again through touch?? Can the contamination spread throughout the rest of the house once I am out and about if I fail to clean thoroughly enough? What cleaning agents did y'all use my doctor said not to use bleaching agents. I am almost through this tunnel and of course my mind has to worry about the next thing.

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Radiation contaminates by penetrating the actual matter itself. Most of the radiation will come from your bodily fluids, waste, etc. So, your sheets, for example, will be radioactive from perspiration. If you put them in the washing machine, you will make the washing machine radioactive. The best thing is time. Time allows for decay. I would pile up the sheets and clothing you used and just let it sit for two weeks so the radiation decays. Then wash them. What you wash items with will not matter.

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When I was through with my isolation, I bagged my sheets, pillow and the old clothes I had worn. We set the bag in the back corner of the garage to "age out" for a couple of weeks before tossing it. You can bag your laundry while in your room, carry the bag to the washer, then wash your stuff seperately from your other family members. Your carpet should be fine provided you did not have an "accident" on it. I think I just used regular non-bleach bathroom cleaner when cleaning the bathroom (twice, just like flushing!) The radiation tech told me that it is the physical scrubbing pressure that eliminates the contaminant. Congrats on getting through that tunnel!! Enjoy your freedom!

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Hmmmm everything I have read on this site plus the info my doctor gave me all said its safe to launder sheets, towels and clothing so I'm not really worried about doing that. More about recontamination while cleaning. I guess I'll clean then shower maybe even twice. Lol.

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Laundering clothes, sheets, etc should be fine... The radioactivity that comes off your body is water soluble. Just washing down the shower should be fine, too - same with the toilet, etc. I wouldn't even worry about the carpets unless you sweat, peed, or spat on them...in that case maybe a cleaning is in order. I wouldn't worry about carrying things through the house, either.

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I agree with all the good comments. Also, remember that with each passing day, you are less radioactive. By the time you clean the bathroom and such, you will have much less radioactivity in you, so any possible contamination will be even less than the day before. With a little one in the house, I would consider using rubber gloves for cleaning and throwing them and the sponge or paper towels out after "aging" for a couple of weeks.

You're almost there! Wishing you a great outcome and lots of quick hugs with your little one soon.

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body fluids are the concern. if a surface/item has not been exposed to your saliva, excessive sweat, blood, vomit, or 'bathroom fluids', your things will be fine.

you do not want anyone ingesting your fluids.

no, the I-131 is not going to spontaneously contaminate the rest of your house.

it's not a germ or bacteria.

it is radioactive material that will decay from the environment.

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I was told to just wash my clothes and sheets seperate from the family one time only and all is clean and not radioacitve anymore. I was told to use the bathroom for the week and then just clean it as usual. But now I realise my family will be using the shower so they told me to just clean the tub after my showers and it will be fine they could take their showers after me. I have 2 kids too so I hope they are right. Cannot wait for this to be done with myself.


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I was told to wash my bedding separately after the first two days, and then reuse the clean sheets on the bed in my isolation room and continue to sleep in there for the next 5 days or so. I think I'll run an empty fill and spin cycle after using it just to make sure to rinse away any traces of I-131.

I'm a bit freaked out about contaminating my partner and our house, so I want to err on the side of caution, and I'm sure I'd be 100 times more freaked out if we had small children.

One thing that I have not really gotten a clear answer on (and I'm not sure anyone really understands what I'm asking) is how much of a risk is it to re-contaminate myself during the first couple of days, and what precautions, if any, I should take with respect to this? For example, if I sweat out I-131 on the sheets and then continue to sleep in them, aren't I re-exposing myself to I-131 that my body eliminated? Maybe it doesn't matter since I'm so full of the stuff, but I don't know if I should be careful about re-exposing myself to I-131 that I excrete during the first couple days, and not reuse drinking cups, wipe down my laptop keyboard a lot, toss the tooth brush that I use the first 2 days, etc. The advice they gave me about washing my sheets after the first 2 days makes me think I should be careful about this, but I'm not sure if I'm just overly paranoid. Anyone know the answer to this?

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you're not recontaminating yourself. you are as radioactive as the sheets you use. It all decays at the same rate. The good thing is, a vast majority of it is shed out from your body in the first few days. It's not a germ. It's radioactive material that decays at the same rate.

your toothbrush is going to be as radioactive as you are, as long as you are. I-131 decays at the same rate, no matter where it is.

you're excreting the I-131 out of your system, and you can wash away the I-131 from surfaces and materials. This all helps reduce I-131 exposure.

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It is true that all of the I-131 atoms are decaying at the same rate, but the total number of atoms effects the time it takes for them to die off and it effects the amount of radiation emitted as they die. For example, if you had only one I-131 atom, after 8 days (I-131's half life) there is a 50% chance that it died and you now have zero. If you have several million atoms, the chance that after 8 days they all died is no where near 50%. As atoms decay they emit radiation. The more atoms you start with, the more atoms decaying and the more radiation emitted. Also, more atoms means a longer amount of time it takes to reach safe levels and a longer time for all the I-131 atoms that you started with to decay.

Since my body is eliminating some atoms via sweat, saliva, and urine, my question is how careful do I need to be about re-exposing myself to the ones I eliminate in this way? The amounts may be so small that it doesn't really matter, particularly compared to the amounts that stay in my body. I just don't know.

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Actually, 2 nuclear medicine doctors have told me different, jani72. Yes, it all decays at the same rate but it emits differently. Your toothbrush is definitely not going to be as radioactive as you are.

I, too, was worried yesterday as I sat in my sheets on the third day (my instructions said to wash everything on the 4th day) wondering if I was recontaminating myself. When I went in for my WBS this morning, the nuclear med doctor reminded me of this: I took 30mci of I131 on Thursday. By Sunday, 25 of those were peed out of me. 2 or 3 were sweated out of me. 1 or 2 can tend to stay in the saliva which is why they say not to kiss or share utensils for a week, but that if you have no swelling that this isn't an issue. And 1or 2 stay in the body, depending on how much thyroid tissue is left in the thyroid bed. So, those couple of mci's left in the body adter 3 days give a negligible amount of radiation off. Contamination via sweat on sheets and clothing is not a main concern. I twice washed my sheets, towels and clothing I have worn days 1-4 today, cleaned my bathroom from top to bottom, showered after doing that, re-made my bed and psychologically feel much better. I wiped my smartphone, iPad and laptop down and continue to toss disposable utensils, dental floss, etc. also, the rumor that you can't use a bleach product is false. The nuclear med doctor said today that I131 dilutes with water and that water is all you really need, but to use soap so you can see what you are cleaning. I told him I was worried I had been walking on my carpet with hot and possibly sweaty feet and he laughed at me.

Yolandat, that is not how hall life works. After 1 half life, half of the I131 has been processed. After another half life, half of what's left is then processed. After a third half life, half of what's then left is then processed, etc., etc., etc. With my 30mci dose, over 99% of what is left in my thyroid bed (a couple of mci's) will have decayed by 5 half lives, or 40 days.

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I suppose that is why they give the guidelines that they do, because they take these things into consideration.

So follow the guidelines and you'll be fine.

I-131 is I-131, and if you understand the emissions and the number of atoms then you should be able to grasp the concept of the guidelines given to you to reduce I-131 exposure.

Follow the guidelines and you'll be fine. We are surrounded by radiation, everyday.

I know my guidelines were explicit on when I could dine out, when to wash my clothes for the first time separately and how long to continue that practice.

If you want to be ultra-safe, find a radioactive decay calculator, put in your dose and see how long until the number is negligible and follow the guidelines for that long (probably 3 months).

The half life of I-131 is 8.02 days. The biological half life varies per organism.

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"Actually, 2 nuclear medicine doctors have told me different, jani72. Yes, it all decays at the same rate but it emits differently. Your toothbrush is definitely not going to be as radioactive as you are."

Then even less to be concerned about! =))

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