A dirty bomb is another name of a radiological dispersion device (RDD), that is a bomb that combines conventional explosives, such as dynamite, with radioactive materials. The idea behind a dirty bomb is to blast radioactive material into the area around the explosion. This could possibly cause people to be exposed to radioactive material, but the main purpose of a dirty bomb is to frighten people. Most people in the public have no or little understanding of what radiation is or what the risks are from it. Due to this lack of knowledge and the likely media attention given to a dirty bomb, people will over react, to the extent of having more harm done by the reaction to the event than to the event itself. If the amount of radioactive materials is large enough, a dirty bomb could also make buildings or land unusable until it is cleaned up.
Depending on how large the explosives or how much radioactive material is present and in what form will determine how much contamination is present after the explosion.
More information on Dirty Bombs and Nuclear Terrorism
- Nuclear Terrorism & Health Effects FAQ (CDC)
- Dirty Bombs (CDC)
- Dirty Bomb Factsheet (NRC)
- FEMA primer on radiological accidents
- Background information from the HPS
- Emergency Management Links
- WHO: Dirty Bomb
- The Radiation Information HomePage
- PBS: Nova dirty bomb page
- Radioactive Materials of Greatest Concern
- Radiation protection regarding RDDs: "Surviving a Dirty Bomb"
- Radiological Emergency Preparedness and Emergency Response agencies