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Texas state health officials report missing radiographic camera but say risk of radioactive exposure is ‘very low’

<i>Texas DSHS</i><br/>The Texas Department of State Health Services shared this image of a missing radiographic camera.
Texas DSHS
The Texas Department of State Health Services shared this image of a missing radiographic camera.

By Rebekah Riess, CNN

A radiographic camera containing radioactive material has gone missing in Houston, Texas, officials said Saturday.

The 53-pound camera — which is commonly used in the construction industry — went missing on March 9 and was last seen on Little York Road in Houston, the Texas Department of State Health Services said in a news release.

Statewide Maintenance Company, the company that owns the camera, is actively searching for it and has offered a reward for its return, officials said.

The device’s radioactive material is sealed in multiple layers of protection and the risk of exposure is “very low,” Texas officials said. The radioactive material is sealed inside a capsule, which is in turn sealed inside the camera with protective shielding and other safety features.

“Levels of radiation outside the camera, itself, are not dangerous,” the release said.

Industrial radiography cameras may use a very high activity gamma radiation source and are commonly used to inspect the integrity of ships, pipes and other small spaces, according to the National Nuclear Security Administration.

Anyone who finds the camera — which has radiation markings on it — should not open it and instead call 9-1-1 or the DSHS 24-hour phone line to report its location, Texas officials said.

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