[Analysis of the epidemiological data concerning radiation carcinogenic effects and approaches to the low doses' upper limits determination in the aspect of a threshold of the unhealthy influences of ionizing radiation]
The analysis of the epidemiological data regarding cancer mortality in cohorts of Japanese A-bomb survivors and Chermobyl liquidators exposed to different doses suggests that there are good reasons for recognizing the threshold of the radiocarcinogenic effect in the region of about 200 Gy (mSv). The analysis of solid cancer mortality in Japanese cohort, which exceeded the expected one in a dose diapason of 5-200 mSv, revealed a (quasi) plateau in a dose-effect curve and led to the conclusion that the nature of the overshoot is non-radiogenic. The analysis of supposedly dose dependent leucosis incidence in the limited low dose diapason in the Chernobyl cohort showed that the real coefficient of the excess absolute or relative radiation risk could not be received in the case because the larger part curve was placed under the control level. In supporting the principle of single hit in a cell nucleus as a base of microdosimetric determination of low radiation doses, the approach to objective delimitation between low, intermediate and high doses regions has been proposed. The low doses upper limit of sparse ionizing radiation for cell nucleus of 8 microns in diameter has been evaluated as 0.65 mGy. It can serve for evaluation of the dose rate threshold regarding the safe chronic radiation levels in the environment.
Three underground nuclear tests representing approximately 15-16% of the total effective energy released during the United States underground nuclear testing program from 1951 to 1992 were conducted at Amchitka Island, Alaska. In 1996, Greenpeace reported that leakage of radionuclides, 241Am and 239+240Pu, from these underground tests to the terrestrial and freshwater environments had been detected. In response to this report, a federal, state, tribal and non-governmental team conducted a terrestrial and freshwater radiological sampling program in 1997. Additional radiological sampling was conducted in 1998. An assessment of the reported leakage to the freshwater environment was evaluated by assessing 3H values in surface waters and 240Pu/239Pu ratios in various sample media. Tritium values ranged from 0.41 Bq/l +/- 0.11 two sigma to 0.74 Bq/1 +/- 0.126 two sigma at the surface water sites sampled, including the reported leakage sites. Only at the Long Shot test site, where leakage of radioactive gases to the near-surface occurred in 1965. were higher 3H levels of 5.8 Bq/1 +/- 0.19 two sigma still observed in 1997, in mud pit #3. The mean 240Pu/239Pu for all of the Amchitka samples was 0.1991 +/- 0.0149 one standard deviation, with values ranging from 0.1824 +/- 1.43% one sigma to 0.2431 +/- 6.56% one sigma. The measured 3H levels and 240Pu/239Pu ratios in freshwater moss and sediments at Amchitka provide no evidence of leakage occurring at the sites reported by Buske and Miller (1998 Nuclear-Weapons-Free America and Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Anchorage, Ak, p.38) and Miller and Buske (1996 Nuclear Flashback: The Return to Anchitka, p.35). It was noted that the marine sample; 240Pu/239Pu ratios are statistically different than the global fallout ratios presented by Krey et al. (1976) and Kelley, Bond, and Beasley (1999). The additional non-fallout component 240Pu/239Pu ratio, assuming a single unique source, necessary to modify the global fallout 240Pu/239Pu ratio to that measured in the marine samples is on the order of 0.65 (Hameedi, Efurd, Harmon, Valette-Silver, & Robertson, 1999; Kelley et al., 1999). While this potentially suggests another plutonium source, such as high burn-up nuclear reactor fuel, rather than underground nuclear tests, the uncertainties in analyses and environmental processes need to be fully assessed before any conclusion can be reached. Further work is needed to evaluate these findings and to support any radiological assessment of the marine environment surrounding Amchitka. Based on geohydrological testing and modeling, leakage from the Amchitka Underground Nuclear Tests is projected to occur to the marine environment (Claassen, 1978; Fenske, 1972; Wheatcraft, 1995).
The prevalence of thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer was studied in the indigenous population residing on Ebeye Island, Kwajalein Atoll, in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. This island, centrally located in the nation, is home to about 25% of the nation's population, many who have migrated there from other atolls. The objective of the study was to obtain thyroid disease rate statistics on as much of the population as possible that was alive during the years of nuclear testing and to test the hypothesis that described a linearly decreasing prevalence of palpable nodules with increasing distance from the Bikini test site. 1,322 Marshallese born before 1965 were given a thyroid examination using neck palpation, fine needle aspiration biopsy, and high resolution ultrasound imaging. Approximately 40% of the total population living on this island who are at risk from exposure to radioactive fallout during the years 1946-1958 were screened. Of that group, 815 were alive at the time of the BRAVO test on 1 March 1954. Two hundred sixty-six people with thyroid nodules were found (32.6%): 132 were palpable nodules (16.2%), and 134 were nodules that could be diagnosed with ultrasound only (15.7%). Prevalence of palpable nodules was particularly high in men and women older than 60 y, in men who were 6 to 15 y of age at the time of the BRAVO test, and in women 1 to 10 y of age at the time of the BRAVO test. In 22 people, the clinical diagnosis was most likely cancer though histopathological evidence was only available from 11 operated cases. Of the 11 operated cases, 10 were cancer. Cancer prevalence was particularly high in those women born between 1944 and 1953 (7/220 = 3.2%), i.e., who were children during the early years of nuclear testing. The Ebeye data showed a marginally significant correlation between palpable nodule prevalence among women and distance to Bikini (r = -0.44, p = 0.06). This report summarizes the clinical findings of the thyroid examinations, the age distributions for nodular disease and cancer, and examines the relationship between prevalence of nodules and present day levels of 137Cs in the environment of each atoll.
According to the conclusion of the International Programme on the Health Effects of the Chernobyl Accident (IPHECA) Haematology Pilot Project (1991-1995), there was no increase in the incidence of malignant disease in hematopoietic and lymphoid tissues after the Chernobyl accident. Nevertheless, since studies of A-bomb survivors indicate that the peak in morbidity may occur more than 10 years after radiation exposure, long-term studies of hemoblastoses and myelodysplastic syndromes are needed today. Study of these leukemias and lymphomas that are potentially induced by ionizing radiation must include both fundamental and applied approaches, i.e., A) epidemiological design; B) utilization of modern methods of diagnosis (cytomorphology, immunocytochemistry, cytogenetics); C) studies of gene mutations, mechanisms of apoptosis, and G1 delay; D) monitoring of oncogene and multidrug resistance gene expression, and E) tracking changes in cell-cell signaling in the bone marrow microenvironment.