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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Estimating cancer risk in unrestricted areas near Fukushima

Residents of communities bordering restricted areas around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant received a radiation dose of 0.89-2.51 millisieverts per year (mSv/yr) in 2012, a dose similar to the 2 mSv/yr that residents of Japan can expect from natural sources, according to a study. Explosions at the nuclear power plant in March 2011 released radionuclides into the atmosphere, soil, and water, and many residents were evacuated. In August and September 2012, Akio Koizumi and colleagues measured the levels of radiation exposure that residents of three unrestricted areas located 20-50 kilometers from the power plant and bordering restricted areas received from food, soil, and air. Study participants wore dosimeters to measure radiation they received from the ground. The authors also measured radiocesium levels in participants’ meals and in the air they breathed. Radiation from radionuclides deposited on the ground was 1.03-2.75 mSv/yr, radiation from food was 0.0058-0.019 mSv/yr, and inhaled radiation was less than 0.001 mSv/yr. Projections to 2022 and 2062 suggest that radiation exposure from the power plant accident are unlikely to exceed 1 mSv/yr, the legal limit for radiation exposure from non-natural sources. According to the authors, the lifetime increase in cancer risk for residents is between 0.28% for breast cancer in women and 1.06% for all solid cancers, suggesting that protective measures governing the food supply, entrances to the contaminated forest, and area restrictions may prevent a detectable increase in cancers in residents near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

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Article #13-15684: “Radiation dose rates now and in the future for residents neighboring restricted areas of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant,” by Kouji H. Harada et al.

MEDIA CONTACT: Akio Koizumi, Health and Environmental Sciences, Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto, JAPAN; tel: 81-75-753-4456; e-mail: koizumi.akio.5v@kyoto-u.ac.jp

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