This week a 20-year study was published which tracked over 110,645 workers who helped clean up after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in the former Soviet territory of Ukraine shows that the workers share a significant increased risk of developing leukemia. The new research is the largest and longest study to date involving Chernobyl cleanup workers, also known as liquidators, who worked at, or near the nuclear complex in the wake of the nuclear disaster.
The scientists conducted a followup health survey covering 110,645 cleanup workers through 2006. Of the workers, 137 contracted leukemia, including 79 chronic cases.
Of those surveyed, 87 percent had been exposed to cumulative radiation doses of below 200 millisieverts and 78 percent to below 100 millisieverts, indicating the impact on health of low-level exposure is not negligible.
“Low doses of radiation are important,” said the lead researcher Lydia Zablotska, MD, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at UCSF. “We want to raise awareness of that.”
Keigo Endo, a radiologist and president of Kyoto College of Medical Science, pointed to previous data showing an increased risk of leukemia with cumulative radiation exposure of as low as 120 millisieverts. ”The latest finding underlines the importance of long-term followup surveys. Further details of the survey should be examined to confirm specific dose levels that could cause leukemia,” Endo said.
The study sheds light on the need to consider some measures for protection from radiation exposure for workers engaged in procedures to scrap reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station crippled by the 2011 quake and tsunami.
Source: The Japan Times
Source: E-Science News