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Introduction
 
Introduction

The prospect of a dirty bomb attack by terrorists has become a focus of attention across the world, reflected in images like these of emergency workers practising their terror attack response and the BBC's dramatisation of a dirty bomb explosion in London.

The technical name for a dirty bomb, Radiation Dispersal Device (RDD), sums up their unique feature and appeal to terrorists: They are designed to spread radioactive material.

People near the bomb when it goes off are at risk of death or injury from the force of the explosion, while people exposed to the radioactive material may face health problems including an increased risk of cancer.

But widespread panic amongst the public is expected to be the most dangerous effect of a dirty bomb explosion.

Two images of decontamination signs from BBC programme Dirty Bomb; two images of emergency workers in protective suits during terror attack exercises in London and Birmingham
 

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