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Dr. Tsubokura's Radiation Lecture Vol.14

Author: Masaharu Tsubokura

Editors: Akihiko Ozaki M.D., Yuki Senoo

27. Radioactive substances have been present in our environment for a long time

Other than those spread by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident, radioactive substances have been present in our environment for a long time. Cesium 134, cesium 137, and iodine 131 are artificial radioactive substances.

Some would wonder whether their health effects differ, but they do not.The nature of ionizing radiation emitted from radioactive substances is all the same between natural and artificial radioactive materials; artificial radioactive substances do not emit a special kind of ionizing radiation.

Even before the nuclear accident, we have always been exposed to radiation; internal radiation exposure is caused by radon in the air and potassium in food, while external radiation is caused by the cosmic rays and ground (abc).

After all, the problem is the degree of radiation newly added to our environment by the nuclear power plant accident.

28. Balancing the pros and cons of medical radiation exposure

Radiation is utilized for the diagnosis and treatment of medical disorders in hospitals.

The radiation dose for a CT scan differs depending on the body parts being examined; the dose may exceed 7 milli-sieverts for a chest CT and 10 milli-sieverts for an abdominal CT.During a few seconds of CT examination, your body will be exposed to the amount of radiation that you would be otherwise experience in a few years of life. Japan performs a large number of CT scans, and the levels of radiation exposure in medical care are known to be high.

The extent of the exposure dose determines the health effects of radiation, and patients should not unnecessarily undergo multiple CT examinations. However, a CT examination is one of the most important examinations for accurate diagnoses and proper treatment in medical care. Although patients should avoid undergoing repetitive examinations, it is also too extreme to decide not to have radiological examinations at all.

It is important to consult your doctors and clarify the pros and cons of radiological examinations to decide whether to have them in your care. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Japanese version of the manuscript was originally published in Fukushima Minyu, a local newspaper in Fukushima prefecture, Japan, on July 12th and 19th 2015, and was reproduced for MRIC Global under the author's permission.

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