Dr. Tsubokura's Radiation Lecture Vol.119

Author: Masaharu Tsubokura M.D., PhD.

Editors: Akihiko Ozaki M.D., PhD., Yuki Senoo


237. Radiation screening study shows no pregnant women in Minamisoma were affected by nuclear accident

 After the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster, various investigations and measures were conducted to reduce radiation exposure. Here, I would like to introduce some of the results from these investigations, which have been published in academic papers.


 Since 2012, Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital has offered an on-request screening program for internal radiation exposure to pregnant women in the city. Women’s concerns about radiation exposure understandably increase during pregnancy. The late Dr. Toruhei Takahashi, the chair of the Minamisoma City Medical Association, initiated the screening program.


 Over the past few years, we have evaluated approximately 600 pregnant women in Minamisoma city repeatedly in a certain period of time and have never detected radioactive cesium in any of them. This situation has persisted even though the fewer people today avoid food products produced in Fukushima Prefecture.


 In fact, pregnant women can eliminate radioactive cesium from their bodies at faster rates than non-pregnant adults can. Because radioactive cesium is no longer detected in general public, it is not surprising that it was also not detected in pregnant women in the city.


 This result suggests that internal exposure to cesium after the nuclear accident has not likely affect the health of pregnant women or their unborn children to date in Minamisoma City.


238. Highly sensitive measurements for screening infants

After the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster, various investigations and measures were conducted to reduce radiation exposure. Here, I would like to introduce some of the results from these investigations, which have been published in academic papers.

The previous article addressed a screening test conducted for internal radiation exposure in pregnant women in Minamisoma that did not detect radiation exposure among them. In this week's article, I would like to talk about screening conducted for infants.

 In general, infants and toddlers are less likely to accumulate radioactive substances in their bodies compared to adults. This is because an infants' urinary system can eliminate radioactive materials at a faster rate than an adult’s can. Furthermore, infants ingest less radioactive material because they eat less. On the other hand, measuring infants’ internal radiation exposure is difficult due to their small body size.


  However, in 2013, a new Whole Body Counter (commonly known as BabyScan) was developed to detect levels of internal radiation exposure in infants and toddlers. Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital, Joban Hospital in Iwaki City, and Hirata Central Hospital in Hirata Village have BabyScan devices for those who wish to test their infants for radiation. BabyScan can detect radioactive substances in the body several times more precisely than the normal Whole Body Counter used for adults can.


 The investigation results for babies were the same for pregnant women. No radioactive substances were detected in any of the more than 4,000 infants who participated in the screening program. Although this result is not surprising, continuously and repeatedly conducting this screening for infants is important. These screening results indicate that internal exposure to cesium after the nuclear accident does not affect infants' health.


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The Japanese version of the manuscript was originally published in Fukushima Minyu, a local newspaper in Fukushima prefecture, Japan, 28th of July and 4th of August 2019 was reproduced for MRIC Global under the author's permission.

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