No impact on adult diseases from short stays in high-radiation areas: study

3 October 2015

Short-term stays in areas with relatively high radiation dosages do not lead to marked worsening of lifestyle-related diseases, according to a study by a team of physicians at the Soma Central Hospital that was recently published in an international medical journal.

The study by the team, led by part-time physician Takeaki Ishii, was based on health checkups on about 500 residents of the Tamano district in Soma city, Fukushima Prefecture, where radiation levels are relatively high following the 2011 nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant, as well as on test results of internal and external radiation exposure.

In the health checkups conducted in 2011 and 2012, body weight and blood pressure figures fell while decreases in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or “good cholesterol,” and slight drops in the white cell count were observed. Despite earlier concerns about negative heath effects as a result of reduced outdoor activities stemming from anxiety over exposure to radiation, the researchers concluded from the study that there was no significant worsening of lifestyle diseases.

Meanwhile, a survey on internal radiation exposure conducted in June to August in 2012 found no exposure was detected among infants. Internal exposure was detected in 27.4% of the adults surveyed, but all less than 1 millisievert a year.

As for external exposure, annual dosages ranged from 1.3 mSv to 4.3 mSv in 2011, dropping to 0.8 mSv to 3.6 mSv in 2012. This was lower than the projected value calculated from the area’s airborne radiation levels. This shows that it is possible to control the amount of radiation exposure at safe levels through shielding effects and decontamination.

(Translated by Kyodo News)