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Environ Health Perspect. 2014 Jun;122(6):587-93. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1306848. Epub 2014 Mar 14.

Assessment of the risk of medium-term internal contamination in Minamisoma City, Fukushima, Japan, after the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident.

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1
Department of Global Health Policy, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster, the first level-7 major nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, raised concerns about the future health consequences of exposure to and intake of radionuclides. Factors determining the risk and level of internal radiation contamination after a nuclear accident, which are a key to understanding and improving current nuclear disaster management, are not well studied.

OBJECTIVE:

We investigated both the prevalence and level of internal contamination in residents of Minamisoma, and identified factors determining the risk and levels of contamination.

METHODS:

We implemented a program assessing internal radiation contamination using a whole body counter (WBC) measurement and a questionnaire survey in Minamisoma, between October 2011 and March 2012.

RESULTS:

Approximately 20% of the city's population (8,829 individuals) participated in the WBC measurement for internal contamination, of which 94% responded to the questionnaire. The proportion of participants with detectable internal contamination was 40% in adults and 9% in children. The level of internal contamination ranged from 2.3 to 196.5 Bq/kg (median, 11.3 Bq/kg). Tobit regression analysis identified two main risk factors: more time spent outdoors, and intake of potentially contaminated foods and water.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our findings suggest that, with sensible and reasonable precautions, people may be able to live continuously in radiation-affected areas with limited contamination risk. To enable this, nuclear disaster response should strictly enforce food and water controls and disseminate evidence-based and up-to-date information about avoidable contamination risks.

PMID:
24633072
PMCID:
PMC4050509
DOI:
10.1289/ehp.1306848
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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