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A radiation alert was issued in Australia on Saturday over a missing radioactive capsule. The warning was from authorities in Western Australia. State officials there warned residents of a "radioactive substance risk" in several regions, including the state capital Perth. The search is now on for the tiny capsule, which contains the harmful and radioactive substance Caesium-137. The capsule is just 8 mm high and 6 mm wide. However, it contains a sufficient amount of radioactive material to "cause serious health consequences". The capsule went missing as it was being transported from the mining town of Newman to a northeast suburb of Perth. Officials believe it fell through a hole in the truck transporting it.
Caesium-137 is used by the mining industry in Australia. The chief health officer for Western Australia, Andrew Robertson, urged caution to anyone finding the capsule. He warned: "Exposure to this substance could cause radiation burns or severe illness. If people see the capsule or something that looks similar, stay away from it and keep others away from it too." He added: "If you are very close to the material or touch it, the radiation risk increases immensely and could cause serious damage to your health, including causing radiation burns to the skin." Even being within a metre of the capsule could expose someone to radiation levels that are the equivalent of ten X-rays.
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