Summary of the Spring Meeting of the North Central Chapter of the Health Physics Society

April 20, 2001


Submitted by Daniel J. McGrane, Councilor

The North Central Chapter held its Spring Meeting on April 20th at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Forty-five chapter members attended the daylong meeting hosted by Greg Smith, President-elect of the chapter. Greg opened the meeting with a welcome for all the attendees and recognition to our meeting sponsors, Tom Chwierut of ICN and John Yasenak of Inovision.

Jeffrey Brunette with Mayo Clinic presented our first technical presentation on "Intervascular Brachytherapy". Jeff provided a detailed review of two different bachytherapy systems now used at Mayo Clinic. Jeff discussed numerous NRC regulatory issues for bachytherapy that are currently being addressed.

Our next speaker, Genevieve Roessler, gave us a comprehensive overview of her experience on a scientific subcommittee formed in 1998 to review the ongoing thyroid studies involving I-131 in the Ukraine and Belarus in "Chornobyl Accident 15 Years Later: Health Effects Study". Gen noted a wide contrast between the Ukrainian and Belarus study groups. The Ukraine government has adopted and developed many western ways and technologies. Their equipment was up to date as was their study techniques, data gathering and dosimetry work. Belarus, on the other hand, has poor technology compared to Ukraine and conducted few direct dosimetry studies on their population. In addition, their equipment is old and out of calibration and their research facilities are unfinished. In conclusion Gen noted that the combined study of 25, 000 people had found 1,800 cases of thyroid cancer and other abnormalities. The study is slated to continue for at least another 15 years.

Joel Felmlee of Mayo Clinic gave us a spirited talk on "Radiofrequency Interactions With Tissues in MRI" (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). Joel's talk began with a discussion on risk involved with MRI. Joel explained the mechanics and physics behind the MRI process and how radiofrequency radiation (RF) is generated. He also covered RF heat limit standards and the concept of tissue interaction, called SAR (specific absorption rate). Discussion of RF heating occurrences he had dealt with and his observations and remedies wrapped up his formal discussion. The lecture was followed by an excellent tour of his MRI research facility where we all wrestled with the magnetic field emitted by a 1.5 Tesla MRI unit.

The Spring Chapter Business Meeting was held right after lunch. Chapter election results were announced. The newly elected officers will over duties at the conclusion of the fall business meeting typically held in October. The officers elected are President-elect Brian Vetter, Secretary-Treasurer Dan McGrane and Council Members Ken Kerns and Janet Silsby. Other topics covered during the business meeting included chapter website goals and committee updates.

Our first afternoon speaker, Mike Lewandowski from 3M presented "The Chapter Website: 2001 and Beyond". Mike gave credit to contributions from Janelle Braun, Scott Medling, Genevieve Roessler and Gary Yarrow. Public (open to anyone) and Private (available only to current chapter members whose dues are paid in full) areas and which items where present in which area brought about a spirited discussion.

Ken Kerns, RSO from Iowa State gave the second session of the afternoon called "Adventures in Remediation". Ken's presentation was a lighthearted; sometimes tongue in cheek discussion of the trials and headaches involved in site remediation. Ken took over RSO duties in 1996 only to discover that he had a number of sites, some dating to the Manhattan Project, that needed to be cleaned up. A number of the locations involved complex site characterization, decommissioning plans, site surveys and detailed Final Status Survey Reports.

"The Cyclotron in Our Basement" presented by Stephen Downey of the Mayo Clinic was a detailed graphical look at the new PET (Positron Emission Tomography) facility at Mayo Clinic. The complexity of the vault construction, the fabrication of the hot boxes, remote manipulators and engineering of the negative and positive pressure regions of the PET facility were covered in Stephen's slide presentation. The daylong meeting concluded with a tour of the new PET facility.