One fear in the current crisis is that terrorists might have got hold of enough RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL to make a so-called dirty bomb. What would happen to victims? In an issue with a cover story on global warming, TIME told about an incident in which cesium-137 was found in a discarded piece of medical equipment.
The lovely phosphorescent powder was unlike anything Leide das Neves Ferreira, 6, had ever seen. Her father, a junk dealer in the Brazilian city of Goiania, discovered the mysterious substance when he pried open a heavy lead casing that a scavenger had sold him. Leide rubbed the powder on her body so that she glowed and sparkled. Dust fell on the sandwich she was eating. Leide, her father and the scrap collector were in critical condition at a Rio de Janeiro hospital last week, not expected to survive...The ten Goiania victims in most serious condition, including Leide, were flown to a naval hospital in Rio de Janeiro. There they are being treated by a core team of eight specialists...Bone-marrow transplants, which were conducted on Chernobyl survivors, are not being considered. Radiation can destroy the vital marrow, which produces among other things the white blood cells that help the body guard against infection, but some of the Goiania victims are so radioactive that new bone marrow would simply become contaminated.
--TIME, Oct. 19, 1987