World leaders attending a nuclear security meeting in Seoul this month will try to tackle the problem of discarding old atomic material, Bloomberg News reported.
Delegates from 54 countries will attend the event and discuss how to get rid of old radioactive items, among other nuclear-related issues, according to a press release.
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A new Bloomberg News investigation on atomic waste disposal shows that the problem has no easy fix. More than 120 shipments of contaminated goods were denied entry into the US between 2003 and 2008, Bloomberg found. The discarded waste ends up in scrap metal yards. One Dutch company found 145 nuclear items in scrap last year.
India and China have been the two major sources of radioactive goods shipped to the US, Bloomberg found. One Indian employee working at a scrap metal yard died when he took apart an X-ray machine.
In January, Bed, Bath & Beyond recalled tissue boxes from 200 stores because one of the box's materials emitted low levels of radiation, Reuters reported.
“The general public basically isn’t aware that they’re living in a radioactive world,” Ross Bartley, a technical director at a recycling agency, told Bloomberg.
Radiation is most commonly associated with cancer but can also cause a range of other health problems, the EPA says.