Child laborer in Turkey’s northwest hospitalized after taking radioactive material home
SAKARYAA child laborer in the northwestern province of Sakarya was hospitalized after taking a radioactive material home on the supposition that it was a type of prayer bead.
The 17-year-old construction worker, identified only as Eyüp B., took the piece of iridium-192 home, subjecting himself and his family to radioactivity, daily Habertürk reported on March 14.
Eyüp B. moved to Sakarya’s Arifiye district with his seven-member family after a devastating earthquake in the eastern province of Van in 2011. His father, also a construction worker identified as Mehmet Emin B., was diagnosed with lung cancer, forcing Eyüp B. to take responsibility for taking care of the family.
Eyüp B. was obliged to quit his high school and started working as a metal worker for 50 Turkish Liras a day. Since the salary was not enough to pay for his father’s chemotherapy expenses, Eyüp B. sought work on the construction of the Kızılcık Dam, which offers a daily wage of around 110 Turkish liras.
After he found out that he could not work there because he was underage, Eyüp B. applied for the job in October 2016 with the ID of a cousin, Tarık B.
Two days after beginning to work on the construction site of the dam, he found an object that he thought was a string of prayer beads and put it in his pocket. The object, however, was actually iridium-192 that had fallen from a device used in the construction site.
Eyüp B. took the radioactive material home and showed it to his mother. His 19-year-old pregnant sister, Kübra, 24-year-old brother İbrahim and 1.5-year-old niece Hira Nur also played with the object.
A short while after, Eyüp B.’s eyes started to turn red and bruises appeared on his body. In addition, he started vomiting and suffering from severe headaches. He was unable to go to work the next day after his health condition worsened and was taken to the emergency service.
The doctors could not understand the root of Eyüp B.’s problems and gave an injection to him in order to soothe his pains. The worker, however, was hospitalized once more after his hips started to stiffen.
Eyüp B. informed doctors about the object, prompting medical personnel to perform an examination which confirmed the presence of radiation in his body.
The Turkish Atomic Energy Authority (TAEK) conducted radiography tests on the construction site of the dam and notified authorities that a radioactive material in a device had gone missing, while authorities also took precautions in the worker’s neighborhood.
The family gave TAEK the iridium-192, but no radioactive material was found in the measurements.
Eyüp’s family members who came into contact with the object showed no signs of radioactive effects, but Eyüp B.’s treatment in the hospital is continuing. The patient reportedly receives anesthetic once every two days and is unable to stand up. Moreover, the skin in the areas in which the bruises appeared has disappeared.
Eyüp B.’s family members are now being subjected to blood tests every 15 days in order to check if there is any radioactivity in their bodies. They have also filed a complaint against the company for not taking enough precautions regarding the radioactive material.
The company, meanwhile, filed a complaint against Eyüp B. for applying to the job with someone else’s ID and taking the radioactive material home.
The first hearing in the trial will be held on May 10, while Eyüp B.’s father will also need to attend because his son is underage.