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Life-Cycle Analysis and Product Stewardship

Radiation Source Reduction & Management
 Source Reduction  Source Tracking   Orphan Source Detection
  and Response
 Orphan Source Recovery

As EPA seeks to reduce the impact of radioactive materials in the U.S. The Agency uses Life-Cycle Analysis to identify where sources can fall out of regulatory control and where non-radiation technologies can be substituted. The Agency also embraces the principle of Product Stewardship by which manufacturers and industry accept responsibility for the health and environmental impacts of products during manufacture, use, and end-of-life management.

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Life-Cycle of Radionuclides Typically Used in Gauges and Devices

Since 2003, EPA has been applying life-cycle analysis and materials flow to the radionuclides Cobalt-60 and Cesium 137, which are commonly used in industrial gauges and other devices. We have tracked the flow of these radionuclides through the various processes by which they enter and leave the economy:

EPA also intends to analyze the life-cycle of products, such as tritium exit signs, that use radionuclides. A cost/benefit analysis is planned for gauges and radiography cameras.

The life-cycle analysis/materials flow approach offers a number of benefits:

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Data Sources

EPA obtained data for the life-cycle analyses from a variety of government and industry sources:

In 2006, NRC launched the National Source Tracking System (NTS), which provides data for the most hazardous radionuclide sources (Category 1 and Category 2). However, the availability of data on sources in Categories 3-5 depends on economic drivers. EPA used estimates and statistical information to complete life-cycle analyses where data was unavailable.

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Radionuclide Life-Cycles

Working with Yale University, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, World Resources Institute, and the Center for Responsible Environmental Strategies, EPA has been constructing Life-Cycle Analysis/Materials Flow Accounts for four commonly used radionuclides. Studies have been completed for two, Cesium-137 (Cs-137) and Cobalt-60 (Co-60) and are underway for Americium-241 (Am-241) and Irridium-192 (Ir-192).

Next Steps

In conducting these initial life-cycle analyses, EPA identified important next steps that will help meet the goals of the alternative technologies project:

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Product Stewardship

Product Stewardship is a principle by which all participants involved in the life-cycle of a product take shared responsibility for the impacts to human health and the natural environment that result from the production, use, and end-of-life management of the product.(PSI) Exit EPA Disclaimer

All projects in EPA's Alternative Technologies Initiative emphasize a product stewardship approach to identifying and overcoming market place barriers by bringing together manufacturers and researchers, state and local governments, and end users and other stakeholders. This is particularly important since the transition from devices using sealed radioactive sources to non-nuclear alternatives is very application-specific and requires communications among all involved.

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