Radiation-induced lung cancer risk is currently estimated based on epidemiological data from populations exposed either to relatively uniform, low-LET radiation, or from uranium miners who inhaled radon and its progeny. Inhaled alpha-emitting radionuclides (e.g. Pu and Am) produce distinctive dose patterns that may not be adequately modelled at present. Thus the distribution of Pu is being measured in formalin-fixed autopsy lung tissue from former workers at the Mayak Production Association, and which is maintained in a tissue archive at SUBI. Lungs are sampled using contemporary stereological techniques and Pu particle activities and locations are determined using quantitative autoradiography and morphological identification of lung structures. To date, > 80% of Pu particles have been observed in parenchymal lung tissues with higher concentrations being found in scar tissue. Concentrations of Pu particles in conducting airways are uniformly low, thus indicating that long-term-retained Pu particles are non-uniformly distributed in human lung, mostly in the parenchyma.
During the 1950's, in the early years at the Mayak Production Association (MAYAK) in the Southern Urals, there was a rapid expansion of plutonium output. This was carried out when nuclear technology was still being developed and knowledge of the effects of radiation exposure on humans was not well understood. As result of the discharge of liquid waste into the Techa River, there was large scale overexposure to both the workers at the facility and the population of riverside localities on the Techa River. There were also other environmental discharges, due to an accident and problems of waste storage, which contributed to exposure of other populations around MAYAK. Although all information on the MAYAK operation and its consequences for both workers and population was kept secret, studies on nuclear technology improvement, the handling of radioactive waste, of medical sequence of radiation exposure, radiation safety improvement, and prevention and treatment of radiation injuries were initiated virtually from the onset the of nuclear weapons production program.
Bone cancer mortality risks were evaluated in 11,000 workers who started working at the "Mayak" Production Association in 1948-1958 and who were exposed to both internally deposited plutonium and external gamma radiation. Comparisons with Russian and U.S. general population rates indicate excess mortality, especially among females, plutonium plant workers, and workers with external doses exceeding 1 Sv. Comparisons within the Mayak worker cohort, which evaluate the role of plutonium body burden with adjustment for cumulative external dose, indicate excess mortality among workers with burdens estimated to exceed 7.4 kBq (relative risk = 7.9; 95% CI = 1.6-32) and among workers in the plutonium plant who did not have routine plutonium monitoring data based on urine measurements (relative risk = 4.1; 95% CI = 1.2-14). In addition, analyses treating the estimated plutonium body burden as a continuous variable indicate increasing risk with increasing burden (P
At present, direct data on risk from protracted or fractionated radiation exposure at low dose rates have been limited largely to studies of populations exposed to low cumulative doses with resulting low statistical power. We evaluated the cancer risks associated with protracted exposure to external whole-body gamma radiation at high cumulative doses (the average dose is 0.8 Gy and the highest doses exceed 10 Gy) in Russian nuclear workers. Cancer deaths in a cohort of about 21,500 nuclear workers who began working at the Mayak complex between 1948 and 1972 were ascertained from death certificates and autopsy reports with follow-up through December 1997. Excess relative risk models were used to estimate solid cancer and leukemia risks associated with external gamma-radiation dose with adjustment for effects of plutonium exposures. Both solid cancer and leukemia death rates increased significantly with increasing gamma-ray dose (P
At Branch No. 1 of the Russian State Research Center "Biophysics Institute", a registry has been created of workers at the "Mayak" Production Association, the first nuclear complex in Russia. This registry includes 18,830 persons hired at Mayak's nuclear reactors and radiochemical and plutonium production plant between 1948 and 1972. Twenty-five percent of these workers are women. As of December 31, 1994, the vital status is known for approximately 90% of the cohort members. A total of 5,118 persons have died. The cause for 97% of total deaths has been ascertained. The cohort members were exposed to both external gamma radiation and internal radiation from incorporated plutonium. The plutonium body burden has been measured in 30% of the cohort members with potential for plutonium exposure. External gamma-ray doses were in the range from tenths of milligrays to about 10 Gy, and plutonium body burdens were up to about 260 kBq. In view of the nature of the Mayak worker cohort, it has the potential to provide reasonably precise, quantitative estimates of the long-term health effects associated with chronic low-dose-rate exposure to external gamma radiation as well as internal radiation from plutonium. However, a number of issues must be addressed before credible risk estimates can be obtained from this cohort. These issues include the development of an appropriate internal comparison group and/or external rates and separating of the effects of internal and external exposures on risk estimates.
Lung tissues from workers at the Mayak Production Association were examined to determine the distribution of plutonium (Pu) activity in various lung compartments. Stereological sampling methods and autoradiography were used. Pu particles were identified by microscopic examination of autoradiographs and localised in one of six normal anatomic sites and two sites of fibrosis (parenchymal, non-parenchymal). Particle activity was determined by counting the number of tracks emanating from the particles. Over 50% of the Pu activity was localised in sites of fibrosis, which had significantly higher than average activity for the lung. Over 40% of the activity was in lung parenchyma. Activity in the bronchovascular interstitium was significantly lower than average. These results support the hypothesis that Pu activity is not uniformly distributed in the lung, with long-term retained particles concentrated in scars of the lung. The results may significantly affect estimates of dose from inhaled Pu.
This paper presents and discusses new autopsy results and other historic data from earlier autopsies and environmental monitoring linked to releases from the Mayak PA facilities in the Chelyabinsk oblast in the southern Urals. The focus is on residents of the town of Ozyorsk located near to Mayak PA and the dynamics of body burdens and radiation doses from inhalation of plutonium alpha and americium-241, and ingestion of strontium-90 and caesium-137. It is demonstrated that accumulation and exposure from these radionuclides was mainly due to unplanned releases in the 1950s and 60s. The mean content of plutonium alpha at the time of autopsy of people commencing residence in Ozyorsk from 1949 to 1959 was about 3.5 Bq, falling to 0.2 Bq in those arriving after 1990. A reducing trend was also seen for (241)Am. The highest (90)Sr content in Ozyorsk residents was measured in 1967. The (137)Cs body content of residents arriving in Ozyorsk at any time was in almost all cases below the limit of detection. The committed effective dose from internal exposure to these long-lived radionuclides which would have been accumulated in Ozyorsk residents if present from 1949 to 2013 is estimated to be 13 mSv. This dose is primarily attributed to intakes during 1949 to 1959 when the annual effective dose rate was approximately 1 mSv y(-1). The current value is about 0.1 mSv y(-1). This dose is about 20 times higher than the dose from global man-made fallout, which is about 0.005 mSv y(-1) at present, but much lower than that from natural background radiation, i.e. about 2 mSv y(-1). The experience gained from this work and continuing activities can contribute to the development of improved international guidance in legacy situations, particularly as regards the provision and use of monitoring data to test and thereby build confidence in prognostic models for radiation conditions and potential future exposures. The scope includes evidence for the rate of reduction in radionuclide concentrations in environmental media and in their bioavailability, resuspension of long-lived alpha radionuclides, uptake of (90)Sr and (137)Cs in the food-chain, and confirmation of cumulative uptake via autopsy and whole body counting measurements. Continuing investigations will thus support decisions on future planned releases and contribute to planning of remediation of other areas affected by historic releases.
Lung cancer mortality among 4,279 workers at the Mayak nuclear complex who were exposed to chronic irradiation both externally and internally from incorporation of plutonium was analyzed in terms of a linear relative risk model. It is estimated that excess lung cancer risk is about 1.9 Sv(-1), with an average latent period of 24 y.
Liver cancer mortality risks were evaluated in 11,000 workers who started working at the "Mayak" Production Association in 1948-1958 and who were exposed to both internally deposited plutonium and external gamma radiation. Comparisons with Russian liver cancer incidence rates indicate excess risk, especially among those with detectable plutonium body burdens and among female workers in the plutonium plant. Comparisons within the Mayak worker cohort which evaluate the role of plutonium body burden with adjustment for cumulative external dose indicate excess risk among workers with burdens estimated to exceed 7.4 kBq (relative risk = 17; 95% CI = 8. 0-36) and among workers in the plutonium plant who did not have routine plutonium monitoring data based on urine measurements (relative risk = 2.8; 95% CI = 1.3-6.2). In addition, analyses treating the estimated plutonium body burden as a continuous variable indicate increasing risk with increasing burden (P
Results obtained in a study of the microscopic distribution of plutonium in the lungs of deceased Pu workers from the Mayak Production Association showed that the long-term retention of Pu was greater than predicted by the current ICRP 66 respiratory tract dosimetry model (HRTM). These data were therefore applied to the HRTM by modifying selected parameters, namely the transfer rate of Pu from the transformed state compartment and the fraction of Pu that transfers to the bound state compartment. Invoking the latter compartment into the modelling allowed a better representation of the long-term Pu retention as well as providing a convenient means of describing the workplace-specific characteristics of the different Pu aerosols found in the Mayak plant. In particular, the present model describes a significantly greater long-term retention of Pu nitrate aerosols in the lung compared with the Type M default.