skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 211023 Find in a Library
Title: Dirty Bomb Detection: What's Hot
Journal: Law Enforcement Technology  Volume:32  Issue:8  Dated:August 2005  Pages:124-129
Author(s): Douglas Page
Date Published: August 2005
Page Count: 6
Document: DOC
Type: Instructional Material
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article discusses the features, threat, effects, and measures to detect a radiological dispersal device (RDD), or dirty bomb.
Abstract: A RDD consists of a conventional high explosive device as the vehicle for propelling and scattering radioactive material. It should not be considered an atomic bomb or a nuclear weapon. Dan McBride, former director of the National Terrorism Preparedness Institute and currently senior faculty member of Kaplan College's Terrorism and National Security Management Certificate Program, believes that all of the known thefts of radioactive source material in recent years would barely be sufficient to construct one good RDD. Even if exploded, however, Steve Fetter, physicist and public policy professor at the University of Maryland, does not consider "dirty bombs" a serious threat in terms of deaths or illnesses beyond that posed by any high explosive. The primary concern would be irrational panic, stress, and associated illnesses, as well as economic losses in the area of the explosion. First responders to any explosion should have direct-read instrumentation to determine the presence and strength of any radioactivity. Threshold levels should be established and linked to appropriate responses to reduce risk; however, standards for radiation detectors/monitors for first responders have yet to be established, although their development is in process. In the interest of prevention, numerous instruments can detect radioactive materials. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) already uses a range of technologies at the Nation's ports to scan high-risk incoming shipments, with some designed specifically to detect nuclear/radioactive materials. Other devices can detect trace explosives, which would be present in a dirty bomb. Still, gaps in security are significant, and "weak, easily shielded and potentially hazardous sources exist and will remain difficult to detect," according to Fetter.
Main Term(s): Police emergency procedures
Index Term(s): Bomb detection; Bomb threats; Bombings; Bombs; Nuclear terrorism; Radioactive material; Terrorist tactics; Terrorist weapons; Threat assessment
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.