Sri Lanka Gamma Center (SLGC)
Sri Lanka Gamma Centre (SLGC); one of the centers comes under Sri Lanka Atomic Energy Board, is the first government owned multipurpose gamma irradiation facility in Sri Lanka.
It operates since 2014, providing services for mainly medical sector, food sector and also other sectors in the country. It serves as the National Centre for the Gamma irradiation service and as the research & development centre for gamma radiation processing. SLGC enriches its quality of service by marking achievements of ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 (for medical devices) within a short period.
Ministry of Technology and Research took the step forward to establish SLGC with the initial Cobalt-60 activity of 250 kCi .The designed maximum activity of the Gamma Irradiation Facility is 3000 kCi. Upgrading of the activity will provide to enhance the processing capacity allowing many more customers to obtain irradiation service in future.
Gamma radiation and effects
High-energy photons are emitted from an isotope source (e.g., Cobalt 60). These photons can create ionization (electron disruptions) throughout a product.
High-energy gamma radiation produces electron disruptions (ionization) in any material that it encounters. In living cells, these disruptions result in damage to the DNA and other cellular structures. These photon-induced changes at the molecular level may cause the death of the organism or render the organism incapable of reproduction. This effect is useful in killing bacteria, insects, or other living contaminants which may exist in or on a product.
Applications of gamma irradiation has a wide spectrum including sterilization of medical products, sterilization of packaging material, cosmetics etc..Microbial disinfestation and insect control in food and medicinal herbs, sprout inhibition, phyto-sanitary treatments (quarantine treatments), mutation breeding, material modification and sterile insect technique for disease control.
Value to the Country
Even though Sri Lanka is one of the major glove manufacturers, as the country has natural resource like latex rubber, surgical gloves were imported spending a lot of money to fulfill the requirement of Health sector, as there was no possibility of sterilizing gloves. Since the establishment of Sri Lanka Gamma Centre, it was possible to fulfill the requirement of surgical gloves manufactured & sterilized within the country for all the government hospitals, saving foreign exchange, making direct impact to the Economy of the country.
As Irradiation service is readily available, several entrepreneurs initiated manufacturing facilities for Aprons, Urine collection bottles etc..while some are irradiating imported finished products from SLGC and some are in the process of initiating manufacturing facilities for syringes, Gauze, making opportunity for man power utilization & capacity building within the country.
Some of the export products of Sri Lanka such as spices are irradiated in a European country before it is re-exported. The production and the use of methyl bromide which is widely used for fumigation of export products including spices, is being phased out and can affect the export trade if a viable alternative is not found for disinfestation of these products. Gamma irradiation is a viable alternative and now it is available at Biyagama.
Concerning the Agricultural products, sprouting of products such as onions, potatoes etc.. , microbial growth and insects growth on fruits render the product value to a lower level making hindrance to local farmers to obtain profit and sustain in the local market and even closing pathways for export market. Irradiation facility allows achieving acceptable levels of microbial disinfestations and also avoiding sprout inhibition and insect growth, facilitating to have quality products.