The nuclear accident at Chernobyl accounted for an acute radiation syndrome in 237 persons on the site. Triage was the initial problem and was carried out according to clinical and biological criteria; evaluating the doses received was based on these criteria. Thirty one persons died and only 1 survived a dose higher than 6 Gy. Skin radiation burns which were due to inadequate decontamination, greatly worsened prognosis. The results of 13 bone marrow transplantations were disappointing, with only 2 survivors. Some time after the accident, these severely irradiated patients are mainly suffering from psychosomatic disorders, in the USSR, some areas have been significantly contaminated and several measures were taken to mitigate the impact on population: evacuating 135,000 persons, distributing prophylactic iodine, establishing standards and controls on foodstuff. Radiation phobia syndrome which developed in many persons, is the only sanitary effect noticed up to now. Finally, in Europe, there was only an increase in induced abortions and this was totally unwarranted. If we consider the risk of radiation induced cancer, an effect might not be demonstrated.
The Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident happened on April 26, 1986. We investigated the cause of the striking increase in frequency of thyroid cancer in children who lived within a 150 km radius of Chernobyl and who were born before and after the accident. No thyroid cancer was seen in 9472 children born in 1987-89, whereas one and 31 thyroid cancers were recorded in 2409 children born April 27, 1986, to Dec 31, 1986, and 9720 born Jan 1, 1983, to April 26, 1986, respectively. Short-lived radioactive fallout caused by the Chernobyl accident probably induced thyroid cancer in children living near Chernobyl.
The level of radiation exposure in children in Belarus caused by the Chernobyl accident was investigated on the basis of whole body 137Cs count. The subjects were 10,062 children (4,762 boys and 5,300 girls) in Mogilev and Gomel, Belarus, who received Chernobyl Sasakawa Health and Medical Cooperation Project health examinations from May 1991 to December 1992 and who were 5-16 y old at the time of examination. The median whole body 137Cs count per body weight varied from 21-48 Bq kg-1 and from 28-126 Bq kg-1 in Mogilev oblast and Gomel oblast, respectively. (The "oblast" is the largest administrative district constituting the country. Belarus consists of 6 oblasts). Corresponding annual effective dose equivalents were all less than the public dose limit of 1 mSv y-1, but the observed levels in the children were considerably higher than the average level of 2.3 Bq kg-1 reported in the past for the former Soviet Union.
Comment In: Health Phys. 1995 May;68(5):733-57730075
Americium-241 (²4¹Am) is the second most significant radiation hazard after ²³?Pu at some of the Mayak Production Association facilities. This study summarizes current data on the accumulation, distribution, and excretion of americium compared with plutonium in different organs from former Mayak PA workers. Americium and plutonium were measured in autopsy and bioassay samples and correlated with the presence or absence of chronic disease and with biological transportability of the aerosols encountered at different workplaces. The relative accumulation of ²4¹Am was found to be increasing in the workers over time. This is likely from ²4¹Pu that increases with time in reprocessed fuel and from the increased concentrations of ²4¹Am and ²4¹Pu in inhaled alpha-active aerosols. While differences were observed in lung retention with exposures to different industrial compounds with different transportabilities (i.e., dioxide and nitrates), there were no significant differences in lung retention between americium and plutonium within each transportability group. In the non-pulmonary organs, the highest ratios of ²4¹Am/²4¹Am + SPu were observed in the skeleton. The relative ratios of americium in the skeleton versus liver were significantly greater than for plutonium. The relative amounts of americium and plutonium found in the skeleton compared with the liver were even greater in workers with documented chronic liver diseases. Excretion rates of ²4¹Am in ‘‘healthy’’ workers were estimated using bioassay and autopsy data. The data suggest that impaired liver function leads to reduced hepatic ²4¹Am retention, leading to increased ²4¹Am excretion.
A selected group of about 20 male researchers at the NIRS that reside in Chiba, Japan, was measured for total body content of radiocesium and 40K every 3 mo from February 1986 to May 1991. A whole-body counter at the NIRS was used to measure their radioactivity in a scanning mode of 5 cm min-1 in a shielded iron room with walls 20 cm in thickness. A maximum radiocesium level of 59 Bq was observed in May 1987. The annual change in the body burden decreased with an apparent half-time of 1.8 y after May 1987. The period of five years was sufficient to eliminate the effects of the accident in this group. Even in the most contaminated period, the dose from radiocesium was below 2 microSv y-1. The cumulative dose for 5 y was estimated to be 5.6 microSv, which is nearly equal to the total dose to the Japanese people caused by the artificial radionuclide fallout for the first year following the accident. It is much smaller than the committed dose of 82 microSv for internally deposited 137Cs resulting from nuclear explosions in 1961 and 1962 and the annual dose of 170 microSv from internal 40K. No detectable health risk was expected for the present group.
An analysis was carried out of multiaberrant ("rogue") cells in lymphocytes of persons living in unpolluted areas (controls), and in areas chemically or radioactively (Chernobyl fall-out) polluted. The total number of analysed cells was 102,391, among these 10 cells with three and more aberrations were found. These multiaberrant cells occur in persons of both sexes and various ages living in regions with a moderate degree of mutagenic exposure. The main types of aberrations in multiaberrant cells were chromosome exchanges, accompanied by double fragments.
The permissible level of a radionuclide mixture, resulted from the Chernobyl burst, in the human being lungs was determined for two kinds of compounds: absolutely insoluble compounds and soluble compounds in the state of equilibrium. For this purpose the data were used concerning the radionuclide composition and aerosol disperse in lower atmosphere which were obtained by the Department for Dosimetric Control (NPO "Pripiat'"). The results of measurements of 137Cs content taken by the use of human radiation spectrometer (HRS) needed an adequate estimation: low level of 137Cs in the human lungs and body within the Chernobyl NPP, zone does not guarantee radiation security. The notion "permissible content" and the possibility of using thereof in the individual dosimetric control are discussed.